Because the show must go on
As India's active coronovirus cases hover close to the 100 mark, government and institutions suggest restrictions on travel and movement. But it's summer, and we are not about to let yours get ruined
Virtual Tours and movies
Tour the canals of Venice on VR
Jaison Lewis, Sunday mid-day's tech columnist, says that with the restrictions and travel advisories in place, most plans over the next few weeks have been cancelled or postponed. This restriction, though mostly on international travel, should ideally be implemented for local vacations, too.
Is it then possible to experience everything you are missing? Over to Lewis.
While it isn't a substitute for being, say, in Paris, Virtual Reality could be a good way to get a feel of the vacation you are missing out on. You may need to invest in a low-cost VR headset. The Google Cardboard is a great option. You can find one for as low as Rs 250 on popular shopping websites. Once you have the hardware, here's where to log into:
YouTube VR: YouTube has a surprising amount of VR content geared towards vacation travellers. Since its construction in 1889, the Eiffel tower in Paris has been one of the most visited spots in the world. It's estimated that nearly 19,000 head here every day. But, you can also enjoy a guided tour of the tower or go sail through the canals of Venice without leaving home. Ascape (https://ascape.com/) includes destinations from across the world, including Latin America and Africa.
Google Maps VR: This unfortunately requires a better grade of VR Headset like the HTC Vive or the Oculus. If you happen to own these, Google Maps VR, lets you fly, teleport and walk around and enjoy the streets of your favourite cities, right from the comfort of your couch.
Discovery VR: If you like the way Discovery Channel explores various places around the world, you will love their VR presentations that take you to key locations, letting you experience everything in 360-degree VR (available on their YouTube channel).
Home movie experience: Tech could also step in and help with another social activity: Watching movies in the cinema. Of course, a tiny screen can't replace the cinema experience, but with a little bit of money or some jugaad, you can set up your own home theatre with surprising ease. At the heart of any theatre is the projector. While you can spend and buy a decent low-cost projector for Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000, a true jugaadu would build one out of cardboard, cellophane and magnifying lens.
Watch the video on How to Build Your Own Projector here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKL9_bdtHq0)
For sound, you could buy a soundbar or a cheap 5.1 wired setup. Most low-cost soundbars with a woofer come for around Rs 8,000, while you could get passable 5.1 wired speaker setups from R2,000 onwards. Bluetooth speakers work well if you are willing to sacrifice bass.
If buying is not something you are considering and building is not your forte, look at renting. Projectors start between Rs 900 and Rs 1,200 depending on quality. Home theatre sound on rent is a little harder to find, but you can buy a decent second hand 5.1 speaker setup on OLX or Quikr.
Do: build your projector from scratch
Don't: buy when you can rent
Travel and Parties
Italian village has a twin in Kamshet
Devendra Parulekar of SaffronStays at their Swiss-styled chalet L'attitude in Kamshet
It's summer and Europe is out of order. But as Devendra Parulekar, founder, SaffronStays, says, "Why go to Switzerland, when you can have the same experience at Lake Mulshi or Pavna?" The firm which offers private vacation homes on rent, says they have received a flurry of cancellations, which are accompanied by queries about what sort of vacation to take that's safe in the time of the coronavirus outbreak. "People have already taken leave, so, we are suggesting that they rediscover their own backyard. Why not book a private villa and enjoy the vacation two hours away from home?" he says.
His team has launched the Doppleganger campaign, which means that you can mirror an international vacation right here in India. "At Kamshet, two hours away from Mumbai on the way to Pune, we have a property where a lovely table is laid out, all trussed up. You will mistake it for a venue in Italy."
He suggests you also consider the hygiene standards before booking a place. At SaffronStays, the welcome drink is being served warm, not cold, linens are changed more often, and only warm desserts are available. "It's all about having fun, but at smaller, exclusive properties," he adds.
Atul Parekh, who runs Latin Aventuras, says that if you must travel abroad, then the Southern Hemisphere is where it's safer, whether Latin America or South Africa. "The flights to Latin America go via Africa. So, it could be a safer to travel there. The weather is beautiful, too. It will keep you happy in the mind, and mental immunity is important right now."
For those who don't wish to leave the city, plan a stylish soiree at home. Wedding and party planner Palkan Bandekar, who most recently was behind the sit-down dinner to mark Mandira Bedi's 21st wedding anniversary, says that it's best to hold small gatherings, preferably with people you know. "Get the food cooked at home. If you can't, hire a reputed catering company that will follow health directives. Ask guests suffering from cold, cough or fever to skip, and have hand sanitizers placed at accessible and visible spots around the home," she suggests.
Maitri Shah, who runs Mai Stories, an experiential event management company, prefers to take a more philosophical view of the circumstance. She says that this is a time to stop and smell the roses. She suggests holding an intimate gathering. While her firm was hired to plan a corporate event for 100 people, she suggested they split the party into two, for 50 guests each over two days. "For me, supervision is key. Supervise your cook, or any other catering company you work with. Deep clean the table tops. Everyone should wear disposable gloves and regularly wash their hands."
Making your home look elegant is hardly a task. Add a personal touch—a vintage vase or a candle stand you bought on a trip. Pretty up your table, work on plating and food presentation, and display some flowers." She also suggests you have a killer playlist ready. But, if dinner is too much for you, follow the worldwide trend of the midnight tea party. "Just get some lovely Moroccan tea and bite-size appetisers, and you are good to go."
Do: Book an intimate, exclusive property with few rooms
Don't: Attend/host parties of more than 10
Food and Drink
Party only with close friends, buy local, rethink priorities
Dining out may seem dodgy, but spirits expert Keshav Prakash of The Vault, says that if owners of F&B establishments make their hygiene practices visible, diners will be reassured. "They can offer sanitisers to guests, and make sure their staff follows hygienic practices that are evident to the customer." Ice buckets and water supply will be a good place to start the checking. Is drinking a good way to keep the virus at bay? "Drink moderately, so your immune system is functioning well," he suggests. And, any meat that has been cooked well, is not rare, is fine to eat.
Kurush Dalal, home chef and anthropologist, explains that it's about how the meat is handled. "Cooking kills the virus." It's also important to wash your hands regularly with soap while cooking. Wash vegetables with potassium permanganate.
Chef Shilarna Vaze, aka Chinu, who helps the swish set organise snazzy home parties, says that we should use this time to go local, and try the indulgences we don't get to in our hectic lives.
"It's the time to slow down. Let your parties include very close friends. Cook at home, buy from local markets, rethink your priorities. Your friends and domestic staff will need to take responsibility for themselves. If they do that, and you maintain hygiene standards, there is little need to worry."
If you are having a do at home, and want to impress your guests, Vaze says that a mezze platter is the way to go. "Make a plate with moringa hummus, baba ganush with saffron and turmeric, kaffir lime tzatziki and ragi lavash. It's bound to be a hit." Her last tip: Eat amla to keep your immunity levels high.
Do: Cook your meat well
Don't: Over-drink; you need to build your immunity
Get the kids to build a library
Pic/ Suresh Karkera
Dr Om Srivastava, Infectious diseases specialist
T cells in the body start the defense mechanism and build the immune system. However, in children, this starts developing only between ages 12 and 14. "And so, you will see that children who had problems when they were younger are fine once they hit this age. Similarly, when the body starts ageing, the immune system weakens. However, there can be exceptions. You will also see a fit 80-year-old and a fragile 25-year-old," he says. Care should involve ensuring that infections are not transferred. Tissues should be disposed of properly and surfaces cleaned well. If it's possible to break the chain of transfer, that's where the focus should be. In places where children are present, there needs to be a constant disinfectant and sterilisation policy. Do it as many times as required.
Priya Srinivasan, director, The Pomegranate Workshop
With children cooped up at home, the best way to keep them absorbed is to read out stories to them. You could also build a home library. In fact, this is the best time to do so. Stock up on some great books—you can find recommendations of the top children's books online—and even have other families come in with their books.
Involve the children in the library building process. Labelling, stamping the books and cataloguing will give them a sense of responsibility towards organising and maintaining their own personal library.
Parents could organise activities based around books. Parents. not children, could go online and search for a number of resources that will guide them to different activities around each book. These should not be boring worksheets or tests. The text should be linked to the live world. Ideally, read the book yourself before reading it out to the kids.
The activities could also be linked to found material like wool, sack cloth, cotton or anything in the house with which they can make art or build things. It works for all age groups.
But, these will have to be facilitated activities. A parent can't organise this and walk away.
It's important to restrict screen time during this period. The first thing parents do is put a screen in the child's hand as if it's a pacifier. Instead, keep it to a specific hour and stick to it; the child will respect it.
You can also buy a large 15-feet roll of paper, available at most art shops. Stick it to the wall and get the kids to paint on it, not with brushes, but larger items like pieces of cloth, using poster colours.
Do: restrict screen time
Don't: walk away; facilitate the activities
Fitness and nutrition
Do the dand baithak, work with body weight
Sweat doesn’t transmit the virus, but respiratory fluids can. Following the same logic of protection that you would, during the flu season, avoid contact with people who may be ill, and with them if you are unwell. Ensure surfaces are clean. It might be a good idea to rethink your fitness regimen if it involves working out in air conditioned, closed spaces in a crowd. Here’s how to redesign your workout.
Mustafa Ahmed, co-founder-partner at AKRO Fitness
Mustafa Ahmed shows you how to do the crab reach animal flow exercise
Step 1 - Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up off ground
When they re-open, gyms should stock alcohol-based sanitisers near all equipment so that clients and trainers can clean their hands before and after every session. Also, the equipment should be wiped regularly. We sanitise our dumbells, for instance, every three hours.
If you’d rather exercise at home, I suggest you try the Tabata and Animal Flow.
Tabata is high-intensity workout, each phase lasting 20 seconds, with a 10-second break. Five tabata workouts mean a 20-minute workout, which will help you sustain your fitness levels till you are back at the gym. I also recommend the Hindu push-ups and doing the dand baithak (a form of squat). I used to be a skinny teenager and my uncle gave me exercises to do at home, since I couldn’t go to the gym and was being bullied: Free squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and leg raises. Depending on your fitness level, if you do a set of 300-200-100-50 or 50-20-10-1, within a certain timeframe—for instance, to a member I would say, 100 pushups in six minutes—you can manage.
Step 2 - As you rise up, reach one hand over the opposite shoulder, twisting at the torso. Pause, squeezing your core and glutes to stay solid (avoid arching your back), then return to starting position. Repeat on the other side
Thirty minutes is enough for a home workout. Resistance band training will also help.
In fact, this period could be a blessing in disguise because when you are working with your body weight, you tend to recover faster and you will find that when you return to the gym, you will perform much better.
Kirsten Varela, Calisthenics athlete, founder of Elysium Calisthenics Park
You can do push-ups or if that’s too intense, go down on your knees to do them. I also like to do tricep dips, where you pull together two chairs or sofas and pull up and push down your body in a controlled fashion. The dip can also be done at a public park with benches, if you find working out at home stifling, you can use a single bench and do push-ups that focus on the tripces and core.
For those who want to lose weight and burn fat, exercises like jumping jacks and mountain climbers help you sweat it out.
Parallel bar dips
Ayesha Billimori, Athlete, movement specialist
At a time like this, you need to ensure that you exercise to keep your immunity up. I suggest you drink a lot of water and eat nutritious food. I personally find it cumbersome to run with a mask, so it’s not something I would advise you to do.
Win medals at a virtual race
It would have been a good time to head out for a competitive race, weather wise at least. But travel limitations don’t have to curb your competitive spirit. A range of virtual races have been set up and curated by the Eventjini Virtual Running Events Calendar and are available on their site. From a 8K run that can be completed any time until March 31, 2020, to even a 20K run in April, this allows you to compete and finish (and you get a finisher’s medal) staying exactly where you are. There are registration fees of course, and also rules and regulations. So, confirm those when you sign up.
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