Family matters – Cover Story News

6 WAYS TO WITH ENGAGE WITH YOUR FOLKS, REJUVENATE RELATIONSHIPS AND TAKE CARE OF HEALTHY

Revisiting memories

Mohit and Shivani Jain. (Art gallery owner; homemaker.)

1. Cataloguing their art collection and arranging old photos in albums, apart from cooking and playing board games.

My husband and I have very little patience for each other, so this exercise in isolation is particularly challenging, confesses homemaker Shivani Jain, 40, who lives in Delhi with her husband, Mohit Jain, 47 owner of the Dhoomimal Art Centre. Though they have been married for nearly 20 years, the close confinement soon began to feel interminable, so they both agreed it was time to change the rules of engagement and find ways to reconnect without getting on each other’s nerves. Just the other day, we realised that we had never seen our honeymoon pictures since we returned from our honeymoon. So we took all our photographs from the time and started arranging them in albums, which we had promised to do but never gotten around to it, says Shivani. The same thing goes for our art collection, which we have started cataloguing together, adds Mohit. It has actually been really fun and rewarding. The two have also started redecorating the house. He never had the time before and I didn’t want to do it alone. Now we are planning and executing the changes ourselves, says Shivani. They have also started cooking together and playing games such as Uno and Monopoly with their 17-year-old daughter Aashika and 12-year-old son Aaryansh.

Space to Grow

Suvir Saran and Charles Burd, Star chef; homemaker

2. Organising pyjama parties with family members and taking virtual tours of museums they plan to visit in the future.

The best relationship pointer I ever picked up was from my dogs, says Suvir Saran, 47, star chef and owner of restaurant, House of Celeste, in Gurugram. I saw my dog Clouseau sitting on my other dog Luca’s head, who just ignored him. That is the sanest advice I can give for surviving and nurturing long-term relationships. It works even better in times like these days of confinement. That, and giving each other space, adds his partner of 18 years, Charles Burd, 44. The two have been hosting pyjama parties with their families on Zoom and gardening and nurturing their terrace herb garden in their South Extension home. Also, we are finally putting away our winter clothes and arranging our book collection since we are still in the process of setting up our home, says Saran. When not cooking and posting videos on Instagram, they are walking their dogs and pursuing their independent passions.

Tales of Childhood

Advait P, Businessman

3. Socialising with friends online

Advait P., 32, has been digging out pictures from his childhood to post on a WhatsApp group made up of his college friends, with whom he has reconnected during the lockdown. Most of our chats have been about planning where to meet next, says Advait. We are using this free time to get to know each other better by sharing anecdotes from our childhood. They also post quizzes, puzzles and do video conference calls. With life slowing down, we can have more meaningful conversations, he adds.

Joint Battle

Priyanshi Kapoor, Homemaker

4. Playing online games with the members of her joint family

Priyanshi Kapoor, 40, is thanking her stars that she lives in a joint family. The household comprises six adults and four kids and there is never a dull moment. Right before the pandemic set in, her 71-year-old father-in-law had gone through a knee surgery and had been feeling frustrated that no one understood the challenges of his confinement. However, with everyone on a lockdown now, they understand his problem a bit more. We play board games and online games, says Kapoor. You can connect everyone’s cellphone and play against one another in real time.

Lessons in Life Skills

Virat Vilas Pawar, Founder, Epitome Media Management

5. Virat Vilas Pawar, 25, says he has not spent this much time at home with his parents since he was a child. But Pawar and his mother are keeping things interesting with an informal work from home contract. Pawar’s mother is teaching him the basics of cooking and how to make some of his favourite dishes. In return, he is teaching her how to text faster and navigate social media. The result? Pawar now knows how to make poha, upma and sheera, and his mother now uses her thumbs instead of her index finger to text like a pro. The mutual arrangement is helping them beat these days of enforced isolation in an amicable way.

Singing away the Blues

Parth Parikh and Monica Mewar, Product designer; interior designer/ stylist

Parth Parikh, 31, and Monica Mewar, 28, got married only 18 months ago, but it’s the current lockdown that is proving to be true test of their marriage. Luckily, they feel more connected than ever. How have they been passing the time? By singing the blues away. She now works out of my studio, we take breaks together and do a little bit of gardening and play music. Monica is the better singer, so she sings and records it, and I add funny’ noises to trouble her, ruin the song or just to give the music that extra something. It’s a blast, says Parikh, who is based out of Delhi. This doesn’t mean that they don’t fight, but they are more like disagreements, cute fights and better ways to connect.

Exercise in Harmony

Saumyaa Vohra and Nandan Rosario,Lifestyle journalist;PhD scholar

For 29-year-olds Saumyaa Vohra and Nandan Rosario, social isolation hasn’t been very difficult. Married for just two years after living together for five years, they are still in the honeymoon phase. During this lockdown, the one thing they are discovering is how to exercise together. Till now, each had been following different workout modules, timings and tempos. Now, they exercise together with a fitness app every day. If I slack off, he is quick to encourage me and when I find him too exhausting, I make sure he adjusts to my rhythm, says Vohra.

TWO’S COMPANY

Our jobs allow us to have a life outside of home. But with COVID-19 enforcing a compulsory break, tempers at home may be fraying and relationships getting tested. Here’s a primer on how couples can stay out of each other’s way while being together

Think before you speak. To express an issue, try using I’ phrases. So, instead of saying, Why are you making this a big deal?, try saying I’m feeling very anxious about this situation.

Establish boundaries. Take up separate rooms in the house to make time for your own activities. Boundaries help give each individual a sense of space.

Have meaningful conversations. Take this time to discuss important things and reinstate etiquette in your conversations. Showing gratitude for the things your partner does goes a long way.

Get fit together. Something as simple as light yoga can help bond and battle boredom. Physical activity also helps establish structure in your day.

Create home dates. You can do things at home, like cooking a meal together and eating it by candlelight. You can also consider activities, like a cocktail making session or online dance classes.

Explore intimacy. Work on new avenues to discover the sexual breadth of your relationship.

Work on yourself first. If there is a frustrating situation involving your partner, first look at what you can do. For instance, if your partner is making noise while you’re working, try using headphones or earplugs to focus.

(Aakriti Verma, counselling psychologist, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi)

Illustration by Siddhant Jumde

The elderly need you

For 95-year-old Maya Dasgupta in Kolkata, the one welcome aspect of the lockdown to fight COVID-19 is that she gets to spend quality time with her extended family. She hears peals of laughter and snatches of conversations through the day and even if she is confined to her room, attended to by one family member at a time, she is happy. However, she does realise that other elderly people, lacking the kind of support she enjoys, are not faring quite as well.

Those above the age of 60 are most at risk of dying from COVID-19 and for many, the prospect of self-isolation is daunting. In his televised address to the nation on March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown, which will cut off many elderly people who live alone from the services of domestic help or professional caregivers. Some NGOs, such as HelpAge India, are attempting to plug gaps by sending mobile units that include doctors, pharmacists and counsellors around the country. But these are few. Prakash N. Borgaonkar, state head, Maharashtra and Goa, HelpAge India, says elderly people living alone need the support of the local administration and police during lockdowns. He suggests that the elderly should continue to exercise at home and sit in the sun in their courtyards and balconies. Dr Anuttama Banerjee, a mental health professional, also advises families to not confine elderly relatives to a single room since it could aggravate their anxieties.

The elderly cannot be isolated to such an extent that they are left to fend for themselves. More than ever, they need their family’s and society’s support and access to care.

A LOCKDOWN GUIDE FOR SENIORS

Don’t step out of the house or entertain outsiders and unnecessary visitors

If alone, call the HelpAge India helpline number (1800 180 1253) or the local police station and its teams working for the elderly for prompt response

If you can’t go out of your house for some fresh air and are missing your walks, do yoga and free-hand exercises. Stay in the balcony and look to the sun for some cheer.

Include protein, fruits and vegetables in your diet to boost immunity

If you live with your family, spend quality time with them. Play indoor games with your grandchildren. Share recipes with your sons- or daughters-in-law.

Take out an old photo album and revisit the milestones in your life.

(Prakash N. Borgaonkar, state head, Maharashtra and Goa, HelpAge India)

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