It has been a remarkable weekend in several ways. Firstly, COVID-19, our generation’s World War. It’s no irony that C and I started watching The West Wing this weekend, and four episodes in Josh talks of the next big threat to the world – an epidemic not dissimilar to smallpox. “If one hundred people in New York got infected, a million people around them would need to have been vaccinated to contain the disease.” That was in 1999. And here we are, 21 years later, spending a four-day long weekend indoors as over 10,000 people in just the UK have died because of a pandemic.
Actually, it is all about COVID-19.
Friday, the 10th was my dad’s 75th birthday. I was due to be in Delhi for it, enjoying a party I’d been planning before I had to cancel my trip. Instead, I celebrated it via a video call and a brownie C and I managed to buy from Gail’s.
I had hoped to paint a wall in our second bedroom this weekend. But I wasn’t the only one in the city with such hopes, and the inputs for my DIY plans were out of stock. So it ended up being a weekend of even more cooking than usual. The upside was an absolutely fabulous and authentic Keralan style mutta roast, an apple, kiwi and strawberry ‘Iron Man Juice’ that Joe & the Juice sells for one too many sterling pounds, a pina colada salad, gobhi paranthas, cheelas, and so on. Like I said, a lot of cooking.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of time was also spent watching television series and films. The latest addition during a boring browse of options on Amazon Prime is ‘Raja Rasoi aur Andaz Anokha’. I didn’t know who Ranveer Brar, the host was, but quite an engaging character with fairly deep knowledge of India’s food and traditions. His use of unadulterated Hindi words, and some Punjabi-isms made him more endearing. We have also been watching reruns of Byomkesh Bakshi lately, and the clarity of Hindi language used in that serial has also stood out for me this time around. I think I just miss that exposure to genuinely good and well-spoken Hindi.
Ranveer Brar also got me inspired enough to get up and address an impulsive craving for a besan laddoo. There’s a post-it on my fridge that reads, “IMPORTANT: we do not make halwa or kheer or cake in this household. We enjoy these things when others makes them”. I started at 10 pm. One step in, I knew it wasn’t going to be a successful attempt. But I also knew it would result in something edible and worth going to bed feeling satiated. I had it in powder form and feel glad that I made it. Let’s leave it at that.
The weather these past four days was like our four days of summer. The sun shone bright, the skies were a clear blue, the sakura and magnolia trees continued to bloom. We went for a few government-approved walks and more than a few moments were spent soaking in the sun by the window.
C’s dad’s cancer is at the last stage. We learned that he might not get to see him again. I made a feeble attempt at finding some contacts who could help take him on some kind of a special plane to Delhi. That’s not happening. This is how the pandemic has impacted us – so far.
Remembering his father, C told me about his love for Mohammed Rafi today, after six years of knowing that I love his songs too. Nonetheless, we played pukarta chala hoon main on Spotify while C did the dishes and I made my non-besan laddoos. Pretty remarkable, these moments, this weekend.