We are nine months into the pandemic and let's face it, banana bread is no longer magically lifting our spirits anymore. We've all deleted Ludo King from our phones and we no longer have three different video calls scheduled with our friends on a single day. When the lockdown was first enforced, it brought along a sense of uncertainty, and to deal with it, we cocooned ourselves inside a fantasy world of baking, virtual games and home workouts.
Spending the majority of our time indoors is no longer exciting now. Social isolation is no longer #TheNewNormal, it is simply normal--it is the reality we have now fully accepted. And yet, the pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down. Since the past one week, India has been reporting close to one lakh new cases every single day. So it's time to come to terms with the fact that until there is a vaccine, we're stuck in this dystopian nightmare we can't seem to wake up from.
Mental health experts often say that when the external world is in chaos, exercising control over the few things in life helps keep anxiety at bay. So we're not going to keep you in denial with hollow inspirational quotes. We're not going to claim to 'lift your spirits' or 'brighten up your day'. Instead, we've decided to bring to you a little bundle of activities to keep you engaged during these trying times--something to watch, something to read, and something to listen to. No frills.
When I heard that BBC was turning the 1000+ page Vikram Seth masterpiece into a television series, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I was super excited by the prospect of finally seeing my favourite characters come to life. On the other, I knew there was no way the series would be able to condense the massive book into a six-part show without messing a few things up. So when the show came out, I watched it with zero expectations--and I was pleasantly surprised.
Set in the background of a newly-independent India, A Suitable Boy juggles multiple themes--of following traditions and defying them, of love and loss, of the metamorphosis of a new nation, and of making--and accepting--your own fate. The BBC's adaption, although a condensed version of the story, doesn't disappoint. Most of us will be able to relate to Lata's pressure from her mother about 'finding a suitable boy'. Many have also drawn parallels between the social-political setting of the Hindu-Muslim divide in the book and our current political atmosphere. And if that isn't enough to convince you, watch it for the beautiful sets and the glorious outfits.
A Suitable Boy will soon be available to stream on Netflix. If like me, you're desperate to watch it already, you can use a VPN to stream it on the BBC One website, or go the good old torrent route.
'Hygge' had become a viral internet trend last year. Our feeds were flooded with pictures of warm coffee mugs, mood lighting and cosy socks posted with the hashtag #hygge. In fact, Instagram also has several dedicated 'hygge' filters. However, hygge is much more than an internet fad. Wikipedia defines Hygge as the Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of cosiness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. In simple words, it is the decision to actively indulge in activities that bring you comfort and joy--be it chatting with a friend, a warm bowl of Maggi, the luxury of reading a book on a rainy day or simply everyday walks with your pet.
Hygge may mean different things to different people, and during this time of collective anxiety and social isolation, we need it now more than ever. So forget the Instagram posts, and go straight to the source to learn how to integrate the concept of hygge into your life--by reading The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking. Besides teaching us how to hygge, the book's detailed description of how much the Danes love lighting candles and eating dessert (with pictures!) will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy.
Buy it here.
When it comes to conversations around wellness, women's health is an often-ignored topic--especially reproductive health. This is because talking about 'vagina problems' is considered a taboo. Even in 2020, shopkeepers will hand you a packet of sanitary pads wrapped in a newspaper or a black plastic bag. If we can turn something as natural and common as menstruation into a taboo--who will talk about the big stuff like PCOD or endometriosis?
Dr Munjaal Kapadia, a well-known Mumbai-based gynaecologist, is on a mission to smash these very taboos by discussing them in detail on his podcast, She Says She's Fine. Through this podcast, he aims to "explore and open up conversations around sex, periods, contraception, miscarriages, IVF, etc in the context of changing lifestyle choices, misinformation, social taboos and more." We think the pandemic is a good time to start learning more about women's reproductive health, and if you agree, give this podcast a listen.
We'll be back next week for another list of recommendations. Until then, stay home and stay safe.