Mango lassi blended goodness: very ripe mango, very ripe banana, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, macerated medjool dates, a dollop of coconut yoghurt, and a squeeze of lime juice. Yum.
Sanoop and I get as hooked on the tv adaptation of Normal People as everyone else has seemed to be over the past week. We watch 2 episodes a night, Monday through Saturday, and I’m amazed to see how the show, the first of the ones we’ve watched together, I think, makes a deep impression on both of us, really sucking us in and propelling us to keep on processing and analysing it, hailing the intricacies of Sally Rooney’s wisdom, the raw talent of the actors, and the beauty of the filming. I’m kind of surprised that Sanoop doesn’t find it too dark and destructive; so relieved that he draws heaps of gems from its depth and wit. He is even intrigued by the book, and by the particularly poignant excerpts of it that we read out to each other now and then, albeit doesn’t inhale it the same way I did when it first came out. At least he loves BBC’s take on it as much as I love both versions, one slightly steamier and saucier than the other, both just so incredibly well-crafted.
On one of our lovely morning calls, my friend in Sydney recommends Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facing Fear with Compassion concept of sending yourself a love letter whenever you feel anxious, inferior, or otherwise overwhelmed by a task ahead or other looming monster. It’s such a simple, brilliant idea, which I’ll start incorporating into my daily practice of self-care, which, this week, also encompasses the first magical instalments of Deepak Chopra’s 21 Days of Abundance Meditation, the 5 Tibetans and other exercises, with and without light weights, and then a run on the track or trails of the Heath, except for Sunday, when I skip the run and go for a long morning walk with Sanoop instead in that gorgeous 24-6 degrees, cloud-free weather that accompanies us throughout the week, except for Sunday afternoon.
‘Indefinitely’ is how long Laurie Nouchka says she’ll continue doing her online life drawing classes on Wednesday evenings, introduced by a loosening-up guided meditation and accompanied by excellent Spotify playlists. This week’s theme is Courage, while previous ones have been Freedom and Play. True for all sessions is that they force / inspire you to be in the moment and in your body and focus on movement more so than any end result, and that they care less about skill and talent than pure expression and creativity. Brilliant. In my, thankfully, growing collection of lockdown silver linings this is definitely a shortlisted recurring event.
Bird song and leaves rustling from early morning to late evening. Lemon-coloured light flooding into our yoga room in the morning, shining light on the 5 Tibetans. Orange evening light flickering through the lush trees between our kitchen window and the pond, reflecting beautiful ever-moving patterns all over our kitchen-dining room-living room.
Friday. Bank Holiday (VE Day) means meandering off a bit further than usual for our daily sip of fresh air … picking up a coffee from Black Truffle in England’s Lane, Belsize Park, we walk down across Primrose Hill, whose beauty never ceases to excite me, and along the canal to St John’s Wood, where we pick up some delicious dal bowls, an acai bowl to share, and some green juices, which we enjoy in a secluded, overgrown corner of Regent’s Park, daring to lie down in the grass for a bit and take in the stunning beauty of full-blown, colourful, brimming spring. On the way back, we pick up a couple of bottles of organic red wine from Bottle Apostle in Regent’s Park Road, just around the corner from idyllic Chalcot Square, where nothing bad in the world can happen, the houses look like a perfect pastel-hued rainbow of meringue sweets, and the occupants of these houses sit in perfect household-specific (presumably) little clusters of joy in the luminous green square at the centre. Ah. As we climb back up the grassy hill to the viewing point at the top, we once again decide to stop for while and sit down in the grass, now reading out the intro to the novel Gloucester Crescent, in which the author reminisces on walking with his dad to this very spot. London is in lockdown and so many big and small things are super uncertain, tragic, and terrifying, but being here you can easily be lulled into thinking that everything is all right. Back home we enjoy the orange sunset from our window, wine and snacks in hand, acoustic guitar tunes streaming up from the balcony a floor under us in the next building over, where a guy is jamming away while his daughter is playing with an iPad next to him.
Saturday. I talk to my gran on the phone as Sanoop and I walk up through the village in the late morning. Just checking in to hear how she’s doing and show that I’m thinking of her. She’s fine, if a bit bored, but my parents, brother, and uncle have started hanging out with her on a regular basis again, carefully avoiding direct physical contact and keeping all surfaces super clean, so she’s not all alone all of the time any longer. As Sanoop and I pass by the sprawling gardens and wisteria-clad white mansions on Downshire Hill, I ask my gran if she remembers this exact week 75 years ago, knowing very well that it’s as vivid in her mind as any memory, and that she adores repeating the story … which, sure enough, she immediately launches into. Denmark was declared free from German occupation on 4 May, but it was only on the 8th that our family could really celebrate the liberation. When dusk came creeping across their large house in the south of Jutland, Denmark on the 4th, she and her German mum were sitting quietly in their unlit living room as usual: her mum always found comfort in sensing the transition from light to dark without any visual or auditory disturbances. When eventually it grew completely dark, they switched on the electric lights and the radio and heard the news, which gave them hope, but only tentatively. Gran’s older brother had been born in Germany to a German dad shortly before their mum took the baby to Denmark where she met and married my great-grandad — who was very active in the resistance movement throughout the war — and had my gran. The two of them were just teenagers when he, being a German citizen, was forced to go fight on the Nazi side of the war. By the time it ended, the family hadn’t heard from him in 1.5 years. This week, 75 years ago, he spent walking from Berlin to the Danish border, selling his camera and other few possessions on the way in exchange for food. I ask what it was like to see him when they finally heard from him and took their truck (which had been used to smuggle stuff for the freedom fighters) to pick him up. Oh, touching for sure, she assures me, but to be honest she didn’t really recognise him: he went to war a boy and returned a very big man. Whoa, I exclaim as we pass the long queue outside the butcher on the high street, my voice trembling slightly and tears welling up in my eyes. Well, it was the same for many families, she responds. Eventually wrapping up the call by assuring her that we’ll be home as soon as we can, I get back to my reality of walking hand in hand with Sanoop through our village on a sunny morning. Outside the florist in Flask Walk, we spot Ricky Gervais, who smiles at me, nods, and says, Hey! That’s a first; normally, when I’ve seen him walking his dog on the Heath or browsing through the antiques stalls in the narrow lanes of the village, he’s always been too preoccupied with what he was doing to delight a fan with a greeting like that. Not that anyone would expect one of him, I guess. But this must be his tactic when faced with a sillily smiling person who looks straight at him as though they knew him personally. Don’t we all think we know our idols personally, especially the grounded, brutally honest, comedian-type ones? Back home, we make shakshuka and call into an early Mother’s Day meeting with Sanoop’s parents in India and his brother and his family in Hastings, New York. Very nice to see everyone together, even if it’s just on the screen. And then I meet first a Canadian, and then a Bulgarian friend for two distanced walks in remote areas of the Heath, which, as much as I’m thriving with the tranquility of isolation, is also very, very life-affirming and nice. The Heath is buzzing like on a regular summer’s day, but everyone does seem to behave with respect and sensibility as they move around the paths and meadows.
Sunday. Having internalised the mantra, exercises, and breathing techniques of the morning Kundalini sequence for energy and release that we picked up last week, we spontaneously decide to kick it off on the Heath. Halfway through our fresh, breezy morning walk, we find a lovely secluded spot under a large birch tree and settle down with folded legs, straight spines, relaxed shoulders and arms, and try to get rid of any gripping sensations in muscles or minds as we go through the powerful sequence together. So good. Back home, we stay in a state of bliss by doing yoga with Adriene, calling both of our mums and wishing them a happy mother’s day, cooking a delicious Sunday lunch together (lamb for Sanoop, baked herbal falafels for me, accompanied by plantain chips, roasted pumpkin, courgette, tomatoes, broccolini, and garlic, as well as a green pea puree with lots of lime juice and mint leaves) while listening to classical music, baking chestnut bread, reading bits of FT Weekend articles out to each other, and generally just enjoying ourselves in a very chilled manner, getting ready for the week ahead.
Some consider COVID-19 a realisation of Groundhog Day. I really find this so interesting. I’m sure lots of people would find my life super repetitive, lockdown or not, but not once in my life have I ever been able to think of two days as being alike, regardless of how objectively monotonous and similar they might have been. I’m not even sure I can really think of them as such. How do you even define a day ‘objectively‘? But anyway, you know what I mean: ‘characterised by similar successions of events, input, and thoughts.’ I still get so excited that we get to spend time at home, continuously expanding our sense of what ‘home’ and ‘familiarity’ is, and the days pass so quickly with endless amounts of positive stimuli each of which I am so grateful for.