from Brenda in Hove, UK: Some things have to change!

25 April: I am not a person who likes routine. This quiet life that Corona has visited upon me, and the  routines, I find very irksome. This week I sought to change at least some things. Other changes were thrust upon me!

  1. I decided that my daily walk in the park would incorporate a walk through the meditative maze in the park. This particular maze is a “labyrinth-like design based on a fingerprint set into the turf using stone, on a slight incline in the park”. Such a design is said to be “an ancient, mystical pattern – a meandering path to the centre, which is often used to symbolize the journey through life.” http://www.publicsculpturesofsussex.co.uk/object?id=358 Rather unlike life, the labyrinth has only one path to the centre, requiring no decision and allowing the mind free to contemplate – in theory. I set off rather pleased at the prospect of something different only to find that two people were sitting right in the middle of the maze – and showing no signs of moving. Pipped at the post. Tomorrow is another day. And the day after that.
  2. Our shopping list has been, more or less, the same – week after week. Nice enough dinners but the sameness is what gets one. An Instagram advert presented the possibility of a change. A company called #Mindfulchef delivers – once a week – a box containing five selected recipes and all the ingredients necessary. Everything is fresh – and all are gluten free. Today is Day One of a more adventuresome diet. Can’t remember when I was more pleased.
  3. I have big plans for my balcony garden. Getting planters and pots was easy enough but pot trays impossible. I couldn’t get potting soil either. Everybody who could was out there, gardening their heads off! Finally a kind gardener I know said he would deliver potting soil and some plants to my front door – if I put out plastic sheeting. His choice of plants, not mine. Beggars can’t be choosers. Nearly fifty plants and eight (eight!) bags of soil were duly deposited in the passage outside our door. I already had taken delivery of three dozen plug plants. The first hurdle was the absence of crock. We have recently moved and I didn’t think to bring such a thing with me. Any delivery that entails polystyrene has been greeted with unusual delight and I spend evenings pummeling pieces of polystyrene into suitable sizes to go at the bottom of my pots – and, in the process scattering little white balls all over the apartment. Some routine that! Watering not a simple matter either: one watering can at a time from the kitchen to the balcony – taking care to only water when the woman in the flat below me is safely tucked in bed and cannot be rained on from above! This is not gardening as I know it. Bloody but unbowed, I continue.
  4. I signed up with the Commonwealth of Learning to act as a mentor for young women in far-flung places. I was informed of the names of my mentees today. None of my present cohort would imagine that they are doing me a much greater favour than I am doing them. I will tell them!

from Rajan in Mumbai, India: Quarantine!

My daughter Janhavi Welukar, Consultant Skill Education            B.L.S/LLB, MA in Public Policy and Masters in Development Management added the following story.

April 9. QUARANTINE has become the new “it” word. Everything in our lives has started revolving around the “quarantine” issues. Memes about quarantine have been flowing in like biblical flood since the start of lockdown period; your WhatsApp, Facebook Instagram everywhere there’s just one thing trending. In this time of social distancing Virtual has become the new Real. Screen time has increased since personal interaction has reduced. If you scroll through your feeds on social media, you’re bound to run into many perspectives of people about this quarantine period.

Some people are looking at the optimistic side for mindfulness and are of the view that maybe we all should practice this for more days in a year to enhance mindful living. There are retrospective talks about missing one’s loved ones and missing important things in life like the growing up years of your child, children or parents living abroad, maybe a broken relationship or friendship which was worth much more and many such thoughts and feelings. Some people said it’s a great reminder of how important nature and environment is and we are nothing but small specs of a much larger system. Some even said that it is an humbling experience as one understands the true meaning of life itself and what it means to live. Whichever medium you use today, you’re sure to have come across one of these things. But in my mind, it’s just intellectualizing things.

I dedicate today’s article to my mother and many such mothers across the world. My mother was a housewife. Every day when I returned from school, she would greet me with an enormously enthusiastic smile like I had just made the discovery of the century. She would then proceed to feed me healthy food (for which she would have to find new ways of garnishing to make it more interesting for me). Then it would be the time for my homework, sleep and then sending me off to play time. By this time, it would be the time for my father to come home. She would greet him so very lovingly and chit chat about his day and share a nice cup of tea with him and move on for dinner. Then sleep then again breakfast, send child and husband to school/office and the same routine would continue. She went out once a week to get the groceries and would get about 5 hours per month to do her own thing. And yet I never heard her say I am bored, or life is too monotonous, or I feel caged, or I am depressed, or any those fancy things we discuss today in times of quarantine.

One thing to note is that my mother lived in the pre-social media age. Our lives today are nothing different than a regular housewife’s life every day. But see the hoopla around it. This comes from a life of privilege and luxury of spending our time on our own terms without any restrictions. I can’t imagine how my mother and many other mothers kept their morale, energies and creativity high every day of their lives. The only thing they strive for is a happy and healthy family, good education for their children and prosperous lives of their children. Now imagine having to do all of this on a tight budget. Today I pledge that I dedicate all my 21 days or more to all those housewives who imbibed the simplicity within the complexity that we know as “life”. And henceforth promise to keep my spirits high, help people around me and find innovative ways of keeping my mind active and healthy for as long as I can.