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BY Chetan Mahajan

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No amount of gratitude is enough if our only concern during this lockdown is about how to make the best of our house arrest while millions struggle to keep themselves and their loved ones alive. The mood is somber and the heart-wrenching stories either drag you to depression or gradually turn you into someone insensitive to the pain and misery all around. Some have extended help to the poor migrants fleeing cities, realising how insignificant it would be in the light of helplessness written largely on their faces. Many people have come forward to provide these migrants with the daily essentials while others arranged for buses to take back these migrants to their native towns and villages.

Making the Most of the Lockdown Period: Like many others, I did not escape the collateral damage from COVID-19. Though the impact on my finances and budget has been hurtful, I decided to look at this forced lockdown differently. I decided to utilize my free time in upskilling and reskilling myself to stay relevant in the post-COVID world. I picked up a course on Coursera titled ‘Learning How to Learn’, by McMaster University, California conducted by Dr Barbara Okaley and Dr Terrence Sejnowski. It taught me the difference between focussed and diffused thinking, chunking techniques to help improve memory, thereby, unlocking your full potential.

 Learning New Skills: We are often uncomfortable to go beyond our comfort zones and learn something unrelated to our existing knowledge and skills. There are ways to overcome these challenges provided we are willing to learn new techniques that can potentially allow us to conquer our fear of the unknown and open our mind to a whole new world of knowledge and skills. The following are the courses I wish to complete and learn from in 2020:

  • Game Theory: Stanford University
  • The Strategy of Content Marketing: UC Davis
  • Digital Marketing Specialisation: University of Illinois

Staying Fit: Any form of exercise offers two unique benefits apart from the newly discovered benefit of helping boost memory. One, we get to enjoy a qualitative me-time. Secondly, it pumps up our energy levels immensely. I also wanted to shed some of the extra fat, and exercising with intermittent fasting helped me do so, while also boosting my immunity levels and activating growth hormones. I took up running about five years ago, and to make it exciting, I challenged myself to run across 100 cities. Till date, I have run across 49 cities. Some of my favourite destinations include Mana (near Badrinath), Philadelphia (my longest run on the Schuylkill River Trail for 24 kilometres), Hampi (a magnificent, historically rich place that finds itself listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site), Punakha (erstwhile capital city of Bhutan), Srinagar and Sangla (closest to the last inhabited village of Chitkul on the Indo-China border).

Irrespective of how understated it may be, a strictly followed fitness regimen improves emotional health and keeps your creative juices flowing. Something that is critical during these challenging days.

Lockdown Cooking: Experimenting with cuisines from different places and whipping up new recipes is something that I have always loved. Assisting my grandmother in the kitchen during my early days helped me learn some authentic Himachali cuisine that I love to cook till date and would be happy to share with my kids. That said, I also enjoy cuisines from Kerala, Rajasthan, Punjab and international ones from Mexico, Italy and Tibet. Relying on my children’s appetite is another deciding factor of the choice of condiments and spices that I cook. The ones that my kids enjoyed the most in the last 60 days of being at home are burritos, momos, pizzas (completely home-made including the cheese, sauce and base), mushroom risotto, carrot cake, chicken biryani and more! Good cooking is a creative art that can be honed through a thorough understanding of the flavours and continued experimentation. Besides, there is the ‘Me Time’ available along with an increased scope of self-expression.

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