I had a mixed day a few days back. There was a debate in our gated residential society whether some of the residents who insist on going for their daily morning and evening walks or jog should be permitted to do so or not – I belong to the category who absolutely must walk with my wife. We have formed a local task force of interested volunteers in these difficult times and a WhatsApp group has been constituted for communication. A few of the volunteers felt that this is a complete lockdown and even the government wants us to remain locked up in our homes. There was another group which obviously included me which felt that it is not healthy to remain cooped up at home and hence these exercises may be permitted provided adequate precaution of covering face and maintaining adequate distance was followed. Secretary of our RWA cautiously approached the local authorities for guidelines who were sympathetic to the cause of exercise and advised us to issue appropriate dos and don’ts to be followed by this very limited group of outdoor people. It fell upon me to draft these rules and after due deliberation on the WhatsApp group, the same were circulated.
I was a satisfied person for having completed a job well done at least by my standards and sat in my study to work on the draft of my book till the time my wife rushed into the study to tell me that all hell had broken loose on the other wider WhatsApp groups of residents. It seemed that a few of those who apparently were happy that they now had a valid reason for not going out for exercise and could conveniently pass the buck on government orders now realised that with these rules they did not have a valid excuse to put before their spouse who had always wanted the partner to at least look a little more fit. One illustrious person who is also on the task force group chose to air his dissent to the rules on the wider group also – something similar to what many of our politicians have mastered the art of doing – leak their dissent to the press to only show that they have the best interests of everyone at heart. It reminded me of a recent political drama where a leading politician from one ideology joined a totally divergent ideology.
I had my lunch and I have now become adept at having my afternoon post-lunch siesta in these difficult times – after all one does get tired with so much of work from home. I had my sleep and then opened my mail. Now here was a mail to gladden my heart – my first book published last year had been featured in the top 100 debut books of the year by a leading literary organisation – I definitely rate them as leading. I spent half an hour informing all my Facebook friends and various literature groups on Facebook about my award hoping that it may sell a few more copies and then promptly went out for my evening walk with my wife, with both of us covering our face and maintaining a decent social distance – though it is not easy to maintain distance when we have been married for more than 35 years now – I hope happily. We came back happy having released sufficient quantities of endorphins, the feel good hormones, reducing SAD. For the uninitiated SAD is not the name of a political party of India when written in this context, but simply means seasonal affective disorder, a depression caused by changing seasons. The season is indeed changing not just from winter to summer but also from being a free bird to now getting used to a world which will not be the same after our friend the novel corona has chosen to inhabit our world.
Out of a force of habit to which I am now addicted and I hope my friends will refer me to some good detox centers, I opened my WhatsApp. It did not take long for all the endorphins to retreat in the face of a very stiff onslaught of stress hormones – a few of those potato couches had called up the PCR to complain about those stupid walkers in the society. I waited nervously for my bell to ring and for the police to haul me to the local police station for interrogation. I even thought that a jail may really not be such a bad deal as I may actually get to exercise there unlike here in the free world. I was to be disappointed though as the police actually saw the dos and don’ts and went back satisfied and happy.
Last Sunday I was reading an article written by a very famous writer whom I find using an immaculately polite and decent language in his articles and his tweets, though for the life of me I can’t understand why he calls his articles as rude. He wrote that one could find the generation to which a person belonged by simply seeing his response to 4 or 5 queries about food. I was flattered to find myself belonging to the category of millennium generation, I am certainly not a youngster whatever I may think of my youth – I completed 61 years last month only. It was not because of any flaw in the questionnaire – I did not know the correct answers because a few of the questions referred to some recipes. I am a foodie only to the extent that I love eating and have no idea about what ingredients go into those favourite dishes of mine. I realise that most of the people opposing the move to exercise are much younger people, including my own daughters, and it is oldies like me who want to go out, even if for short durations.
I had read another short article a few days back where the father of the writer was dismissive of his concerns with a logic that what could such a small being as this corona virus do to him and he couldn’t care less and would go out and enjoy life. The writer felt that such an attitude might have come from the risks that a middle-class man of that generation took to his life to make his earning and to look after his family. For such a man risk to life had become a second nature. Probably the writer was right even though I can say with certainty that I had led a fairly risk free life – all the risks had been taken by my parents to ensure that we led a risk free life. But now I have reached that stage in my life where I feel responsible for the safety of a generation before mine as also a generation – if not two generations – after me. And nothing brings out this urge to be protective more than adversity in our lives.
Adversities bring out the best and the worst in people. So, what is the best that this has brought out in my life. A bucket list of my resolutions in this changed world which is the best that this adversity has brought out in me reads something like below – at least for now – till the next adversity brings out something else.
This is the only life that I have and I don’t know how much of it is left. We keep fighting or arguing with each other over some fairly petty issues – it does not make sense. But then does it mean that we have to give in to the other person even when I think that the other person is wrong? If I do that, I will just be a doormat over which everyone will walk. I have resolved that in any argument I will try to understand the perspective of the other person and put forward my perspective politely but firmly.
Those close to me in my life are important. I will try to spend more time with my loved ones and take out time from my busy schedule to interact with each other. It has its limitations though, particularly when I realise that the list includes elders who are a generation older than me and there are youngsters from a generation younger than me – if I am right this is generation distancing. This will require me to learn more about generations diverse to mine – though sometimes I find it difficult to understand people from my generation also.
I will read a lot – spend a set time every day on reading. My previous resolution will require me to read – authors from different genres and generations. I do read a lot, but had created a list of a limited number of authors. I will expand my list.
I will travel at least twice a year and see places that I have never visited. The travels will not be to tick list of things to do or sights to see. They will be for me to understand the place, its people, its culture, and its food – I told you, I am a foodie.
I will start spending some time in the kitchen. This of course will require the permission of my wife since there is a conflict here – I want to do exquisite recipes and she says to start from the basics. But on this I will go back to my first resolution – understand her perspective – and then probably decide to be a doormat in this argument.