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Living a History

Living a History

The most important events in the history of mankind have brought with them not only loss and damage but also the next radical step to human evolution and progress. To quote some - Bubonic Plague (1346 - 1353), The Protestant Reformation (1517 - 1750), American Civil War (1861 - 1865), French Revolution (1789 - 1799), are all occurrences that brought with them mass death, violence, exploitation as well as intellectual and cultural freedom, better working conditions, the rise of democracy, the lifestyles and comforts of today. 

Paul Jouve’s ‘Grave of a Serbian Soldier at Kenali 1917’, Max Ernst’s ‘Celebes’, Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Dream and Lie of Franco’ and Francisco Goya Series wouldn’t have been possible without the ruination brought upon by the World Wars. They have come to represent key periods in history that stimulated spectacular pieces of art from around the world. 

History and humankind have always had patterns that religiously repeat themselves. We would earnestly like to believe that after every catastrophic event there is a surge of antidotes to all problems that prevailed and after every pandemic, there is an evolution of a healthier human race. Though we find ourselves at an extremely significant and poignant time in history, witnessing the collective lapses of several of the world's best governments failing to provide basic requirements of sustenance, we are also living in times that are allowing us to take stock and pass on a bit of hope. 

We at POWER, have had the chance to speak with wonderful people from diverse walks of life about the various ways in which they are handling their time and minds during the quarantine. 

Tulika Bhatnagar

Founder, Parrot and Lily

How are you spending your days in quarantine?

Quarantine has been a rare opportunity to have the time to introspect. In normal circumstances, we have to find the time, remind us to slow down and maybe steal a moment of slow and calm. These days though, it’s lovely to take life slowly. I’m getting to workout more, spend time with my plants, explore the bookshelf and other corners of my home. 

It’s also a great time for recharging creativity. As you know, all P&L designs are inspired from archives so I’m taking this time to study, get inspired and derive from those designs or the things to come.

How has it been mentally?

If you think about it, this might be a point in our civilization that will come in history books. We’re not expected to go on war or an exodus to save the world, we’re merely expected to spend this time in the confines of our homes. This is exactly also the time when the importance of having an inviting home can not be understated.

I’m so happy to be fortunate to have my home filled with beautiful decorative art everywhere. Every corner gives me cheer and I can not be happier for having the porcelain of my dreams, books of dreams and of course decor and furniture of my dreams. I would definitely say that the best investment is to make your home beautiful, to have beautiful things that give you joy in your home. That was the concept of Epicurus - aesthetics inspire thoughts, so beauty inspires greatness. Even after the quarantine is over, we should realize that our true refuge is in our home. And a beautiful home will give us an inner sanctum.

How are you managing work?

I always feel that humans and their well being are more important than any amount of profits. There can be no great art if the artist and the artisan live in fear and pressure. Even before the quarantine was mandated, I closed my production atelier, while offering all my workers pay while being home with their families.

As for my workday, I have been working every day with delightful designs, more study of classics and more immersion into this niche world that we have created, while having fun with my daughter, dogs & husband. In the end, only art can save the world.

You can follow Tulika on Instagram @tulika_bhatnagar 

Besma Whayeb

Sustainable Living Expert and Blogger

Besma Whayeb

How are you spending your days during quarantine?

I’m staying home, writing a lot, cooking a lot, and taking things day by day. My plants have had a much-deserved repotting session, and my home is a lot cleaner now too!

How has it been mentally?

It’s been tough, but I’ve been focusing on staying present, staying positive, and keeping in touch with my friends and family. My sister is working at a COVID-19 test centre, and hearing from her how serious things are has ensured I take precautions like social distancing very seriously. Stay home and stay safe.

How are you managing work?

I feel very fortunate to be able to continue working, although it’s clear that the pandemic has affected how sustainability is prioritised, and rightly so. We need to ensure social sustainability first before we can talk about the environment. I’m taking small steps to highlight sustainable ways to live at home and adapt to a new routine, but my main recommendation right now is to donate to the local.

Rashmi Gianchandani and Parul Sharma

Founders, Marigold Weddings 

Rashmi (on your left)

How are you spending your days in quarantine?

My days are mostly filled with house chores and then I go to the terrace at 5 pm every day to practise yoga (more than yoga, I just click a bunch of pictures of pretty birds flying and record the chirping and of course the sunset and then the moon). Parul and I also play Ludo with a few friends. We talk less about work now but more about what’s on our mind and how our day is going, the fun stuff Tanisi (Parul’s daughter) did and more. I have two great chefs at home, so I’m very content and getting to eat great dishes every day. 

This time is finally letting us do things we never did or never found time for. I always wanted to get my hands on tools and so I finally drilled curtain rods. I am also editing videos and practising the tabla a little extra now. 

How are you managing work?

Well, work has been slow and is on pause since no wedding can happen and most of it being postponed. We have decided to post pictures on Instagram and edit them. So, for now, our team member is on the edits. Then we’re going to do a round of ‘What kinds of decor themes we would like to do for our brides’, but not just yet. 

How has it been mentally?

It’s been challenging for sure. Mentally it does take a toll every now and then. There are moments of paranoia about my family and then hits in the anxiety about the lockdown’s timeline. And of course, there is frustration which leads to small tiffs at home, but it’s cool, haha. 

Parul (on your right)

What do you feel about the quarantine?

We had been working non-stop since last October. No Sunday’s and no breaks for us. We were desperately waiting for March 18th to wrap our last event before a short two-week break and then back to work. This unfortunate break coincided with our original break time. 

I had planned outings with family, some activities and mommy and daughter time with Tanisi but we are trying to do as much as we can from home. 

How are you spending your days in quarantine?

Playing board games with Sheldon, online ludo with Rashmi and a few other friends, reading in the mornings before Tanisi wakes up and lots of cooking new things are keeping me sane right now and cleaning the house is keeping me fit for now. 

How has it been mentally?

I am thoroughly enjoying being a homebody for now and not having to deal with nonstop stress. I do miss working, but hey this is a rare opportunity in our business. 

How are you managing work?

The business has been great and the uncertainty of this time might affect it overall, but we are positive that while the functions might get more intimate, the focus will shift more into customising. For now, Instagram and updating our portfolio on other apps will be our marketing tools.

You can follow Parul & Rashmi's work on Instagram @marigoldweddings

Preetham Jukalker

Designer and Celebrity Stylist 

How are you spending your days in quarantine?

I’m spending my time cooking as I love it. After very long I got to cook my favourite dishes, watch Netflix and practise yoga. 

Some dishes you’ve cooked?

I made Amritsari Pindi Chole and Jeera Chawal, South Indian Sambar with quinoa, smoothie bowl and Marathi dish called Thalipeeth.

I am planning to make Wheat Atta Halwa in the evening, haha.

How has it been mentally?

For now, I am ok. Hoping I will survive being home next 19 days too. Meanwhile, I bought a few colouring mandala books. I video call my sister to see my niece and also my family and best friends.

How are you managing work?

My work is on pause right now and I believe it is for good.

You can follow Preetham on Instagram @jukalker

Johannah Hull

Entrepreneur and Community Engagement Manager at InnoPark

How are you spending your days in quarantine?

I am working from home, I cook, I do the dishes, clean the house while working and I take Flash (my dog) for walks. Apart from that, I squeeze in some fitness routines. Yesterday was the plank challenge. Today is Pilates. I vary it a bit. I have watched a lot of movies.

How has it been mentally?

I'm too busy to be worried. Of course, my grieving has always been a part of my everyday life (I lost my son, Jared, 3 years and 4 months ago). I guess I'm handling this quarantine like a pro. On a serious note, it's good to be busy.

Have you picked up something new?

Started crocheting (a skill I picked up when I was 11). Made bobbatlu for the first time ever, so cooking fun stuff with Natalie. She learnt to make healthy pancakes. And of course, branding. Enhancing my existing skills.

You can follow Johannah on Instagram @johannahhull

Paulami Sen

Principal Correspondent at The New Indian Express - Indulge

How are you spending your days in quarantine?

I’m just all work, read and clean, cook. 

Have you picked up something new?

Nothing new :) but taken to more reading.

Tell us some books you've read or are reading? 

I finished I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron. Love her because she is the woman behind most of my favourite women-led films - Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve got mail.

What I love about it is how it’s a humorous take on ageing. Nice to read something comforting when we are all locked up like this. Also finishing Northanger Abbey. That’s the only Jane Austen I haven’t read. So thought this is the time to finish it. Since it is just working from home, managing a few chores and not going out - it was also pretty comforting to resort to classics for relaxation.

You can follow Paulami on Instagram @sen_paulami

Punarnavi Bhupalam

Actor

How are you spending your days in quarantine?

My quarantine days are quite mundane, a lot of self-care is happening and family time. I'm taking this time to heal and grow, doing the things I thought of doing when I have ample time. This quarantine period seems very right to do so.

Have you picked up something new?

Nothing new but I started doing the things I loved doing when I had free time. I started reading, practicing yoga and also took up an online course in positive psychiatry and mental health. I'm promising myself that I'm going to exercise more, doing everything so I don't get bored, haha.

You can follow Punarnavi on Instagram @punarnavib

Joshua Karthik

Co-founder, Stories by Joseph Radhik and PEP Inc. 

How are you spending your days in quarantine?

I'm here with my mom and my grandmom in Hyderabad and post whatever I help with around the house, I'm spending my time on Youtube, specifically to learn. I have yet to sign in to Netflix or any of the content providers this entire time, and I'm sinking that into learning more about the things I love- colour, typography, design and (recently) painting.

 How has it been mentally?

 Mentally, there's quite a bit going on, from work to concern about loved ones. I've settled into a rhythm now, and having a schedule for my day helps me quite a bit.

 How are you managing work?

 Setting a fixed time for it during the day is helping. My work also involves creating art (photography, painting and so on). And even this is in my schedule.

 What have I managed to do with scheduling and all this time? Please find a painting I completed yesterday on the iPad.

You can follow Joshua on Instagram @joshuakarthikr

Madhulika Jhawar

Brand Sales Manager, Reliance Brands Limited 

How are you spending your days in quarantine?

There's been a bunch of things that I've been practising and doing while I've been home. I am waking up very early because I'm sleeping late. My sleep patterns have just gone for a toss and apart from that I'm reading, I finished a book. I'm on my second book at the moment, I'm just using this time to get back to reading and catch up on that for sure because I was meaning to. Fortunately, I went and bought a bunch of books before the lockdown happened, so luckily I do have some books to finish before 14th April.

How are you managing work?

I am working from home currently, but there's not much work which is why our employers have arranged for a lot of training sessions for us so that we use our time productively. I'm thoroughly enjoying that, at the moment. So every day we have a bunch of calls that keep me a little busy. 

Also, how has it been mentally?

I'm catching up with friends, just checking on people, apart from that I'm spending time with my family, playing cards and board games and whatnot. I'm probably going to inculcate a little bit of working out and try to get into a routine in the next week. That's the plan!

You can follow Madhulika on Instagram @madhulikajhawar

Varun Kumar Pitchuka

Preserver, Kalamkari Craft

How are you spending your days in quarantine?

We usually organise the block room during the rainy season. Now that I have so much time at hand, I am reorganising and also counting the total number of blocks. I have also been reading some books and surfing the internet. I have been actively involved in preparing food for the local tribes of Machilipatnam, 300 of them, every day since 26 March. 

What was scheduled for the hand block printing unit before the lockdown was announced?

We had quite some orders from Les Petits Bohemes- France, Les Indiennes- USA, stores in Germany and of course India. 

What about the artisans from the unit?

They are safe and at home. As soon as the lockdown was announced, on the last day, we gave them some rice bags and money to help them during these times.

Also, how has it been mentally?

Initially, it was frustrating. But now I have found ways to pass my day. There are agricultural fields behind my house, so I spend some time there. I’ve also taken to growing vegetables and polishing my drawing skills.

Supriya Lahoti

Owner, The Gallery Café 

How are you spending your days in quarantine?

I’m cooking or studying, for the most part. 

Anything new you've picked up?

Meditation. Just trying to do 10 mins a day

Also, how has it been mentally?

Trying to stay calm and busy through it. The thought of not being able to go out is daunting. But I guess, as long as you are busy; should be able to survive it.

You can follow Supriya's establishment on Instagram @gallerycafehyd

Devika Narain

Founder and Director, Devika Narain & Co.

How are you spending your days in quarantine?

I’m in week four of being at home and the past few weeks have been rather trying. The first few days were rather overwhelming with me being able to do no work at all. But now I seem to have found a rhythm to my day- which truly is the only way to deal with the current time at home. I continue to wake up early, grab a cup of coffee and spend the first hour as I would do normally- fussing over my plants and just being. The first half of the day is dedicated to housework and the second half to sitting on the desk and working. 

How has it been mentally?

Routine has been the key to keeping me positive.  I have stopped checking the news daily and try to stay away from my phone for a few hours every day. The one good thing about being at home is that I have been able to catch up on my reading, movies and exercise and I make sure I do a little of each every day. This has also been a great time to catch up- I pick a random person from my contact list every day and check on people.

These are tough times and the only way to keep yourself positive is to do things that make you happy.

How are you managing work?

I have a small workspace for myself at home, and the family knows that when I am there I am working- it also helped create and maintain the line between work and home. Spaces and energies are important to me and I advise everyone to create a little corner to work in which makes them happy.

You can follow Devika on Instagram @naraindevika

Sumitra Selvaraj

Writer and Wearer of Sarees

How are you spending your days in quarantine?

I’ve been alright. I’ve been spending this time during lockdown doing lots of reading and looking after my family and of course chores, which I can’t run away from. 

How has it been mentally?

I’ve been trying to keep my mental health in check by reaching out to friends and family when I can. But I must say I don’t really mind the isolation because I am an introvert by nature. But I understand that it is really important to many people to keep up social interactions. 

How are you managing work?

In terms of managing my work, I haven’t been as productive as I thought I would be, but that’s okay. This is an unusual situation and nobody expects you to produce a novel or a masterpiece by the end of it. Just be healthy and safe. Take care, everyone. 

You can follow Sumitra on Instagram @sareesandstories

A simple phone call laced with pleasantries and dictated by impending errands to run is now being replaced by timetables earmarked for lengthy conversations with loved ones. An afternoon siesta is not an unattainable dream anymore and good scheduling around your work can allow you to take one if not two naps every day. The kitchen once reserved only for the designated cook is now the core of every household, buzzing with activity and several helping hands. Hurried lunches at work are now swapped with elaborate dinners at the dining table with good conversations and preferably good wine. 

The world is now learning to slow down, pay attention to what it means to live, celebrate the now, cherish today and respect Mother Nature. Just as much as we are the subjects of truly trying times, we are also being given a second chance at life; to build a life that is holistic and one that is centered around healing the earth and your needs. Let's take this time to replenish our bodies, nourish our minds, explore our talents and expand our horizons.

Also, let us remember that roughly 4500 million years ago, Earth was nothing but a hot mess of boiling soup.  Such is the remarkable quality of life - out of nothing and out of nowhere it finds a way to emerge, thrive and multiply. And, this too shall pass.

Written by Trishala Nara and Yashila Nara

You can follow them on Instagram @trishala_nara and @yashilaaa


3 comments

  • I closely follow Tulika’s work and admire her…loved reading the article and discovering an eclectic curation of personalities.

    Shwetha Chandran
  • I came across this article through their Instagram page and I must say it is one of the best I’ve read during these times. The narrative is brilliant and the interviews such a delight to read. Kudos to Trishala and Yashila! <3

    Marion Ray
  • Woah! This is something. You have a long way to go girls. <3 Keep it coming. 😘

    Rashmi G

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