I have waxed eloquent as far as Pandemic Diaries go, on the thrills and the gloom of being “benignly incarcerated”. This piece will dive into the nuts and bolts of the experience as I try and capture a typical curfew-bound day in the muculant environs of the Colombo lockdown.
It all starts at around 9.30am as I have yet again (quite happily) switched my circadian clock to the later morning hours. Less hours to stew a Lockdown Potpie in, being the resounding sanity preserving logic! The regimen that follows is fundamental to helping keep it all together through week 8 of the confinement, and counting…..
I make my bed, with the assiduity of a 7-star hotel housekeeping staff. Fitted sheet pulled until the 800 thread-counts crackle at their seams. The duvet laid out just so, followed by the bed cover. I then wash and change into my day-time lounge wear which is different from my nightwear only because i wear it during the day really! It’s the doggedness of routine that is paramount here. I’m still passing the Lipstick Test* as i put on my tinted chapstick and my eyeliner. Thus fortified with the elixir of my morning regimen, i sally forth from my bedroom.
The electric kettle is filled and switched on, almost immediately permeating the kitchen with its ensorcelling “double double, toil and trouble” caffeine chant. I busy myself with cutting up a whole host of greens….and reds and yellows as i pull together a big salad. The chopping and the dicing and the slicing are profoundly cathartic, as pent up frustration at Time sliding by in the unchanging surroundings of a limited space…yes, ok, home… is released with every deliberate lancing exploit. The ensuing digital fatigue (of the fingers!) is the sweet pain of yet another daily protocol dutifully delivered.
Then it’s my first mug of coffee in hand and an hour of watching the Pandemic unfold on the CNN and the BBC. The addiction to what Rosemary Church and David Eades have to say of a Pandesday* morning has taken on disturbing fervour. I am aware of it though, and as a logical, responsible person with every intention of safeguarding my sanity, i have reduced the News deluge from 10 hours a day to 9 and a half hours. It’s been a struggle well worth it as i fill in the extra time with mulling over the tenacity of the Chinese ambassador to the UK on Hard Talk while i beat a salubrious path along my now very beloved, very well-trodden corridor.
The hunger pangs hit around 1pm. The once rather vague attention to “where’s the next meal coming from”, has during the course of the curfew, morphed into an armageddon-level phobia: i must have a view of where my next 3 meals are coming from or my dreams are suffused with so much biryani and spaghetti bolognaise that i wake up with a heartburn. Mind over matter at disconcerting play here….
So while I’m whipping up some Fixed breakfast-component toast with the Variable accompaniment of last night’s leftovers or eggs, I’m also feverishly contemplating the contents of my main dinnertime meal. I have been insidiously photographed by a near and dear one while thus occupied, and i can best sum it up as “there’s a pleasure in being mad which none but madmen (and desperate sustenance seekers) know”! I’m happy to add though, that since the food delivery services have resumed feeding the hordes of the Urban Ravenous, the victual deprivation disquietude and lunatic anticipation have much abated.
I am also one of the more fortunate who can, of a torrid locked-down evening, indulge in (suffer through?!) heart-healthy aerobic workouts. The sizeable parking lots of apartment buildings are very effectively doubling as walking tracks for their home-bound residents. And come heat or humidity, or even torrential tropical downpours, my brisk evening walk is another regular liturgy that has helped to keep the cerebral northern lights in calm luminescence.
Even so, the healthful mental effects of a regimen built largely around a 3-room space can last only so long. And some days when the painstakingly cultivated mental tranquility is shattered by the lock-rattling of the inner social beasts that we all still are, i quell the frenetic urge to scream, rant and even bawl by initiating yet another salutary ritual: i set myself up to write. The iPad is set up, the TV is put on mute and almost instantaneously, the mind collects itself as i immerse myself in the next best thing to a companionable walk at the racecourse/ a trip to the spa/ a belly laugh over a drink/ or just a warm reminiscence over a latte. The world slows down and the frustration abates as the words spill out like a cathartic mist over another clean page. And in that endeavour is also the promise of a new day.
Positivum Cogitandi; Tabula Rasa.
De Khudai pe aman
*Positivum Cogitandi: Positive Thinking
*Tablua Rasa: clean slate
*Lipstick Test: a psychological/ mental wellbeing gauge
*Pandesday: any day in the course of the novel Corona pandemic