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Realizations on one’s quarantine birthday

Ispent my birthday on lockdown. I'm no special snowflake. An estimated 21 million others share my birthday, and more than 1/3 of the world population or more than three billion people from 70 countries have been on lockdown due to Covid-19. If we put together birthdays from mid March to end of June and divide that by a third, that means around 480 to 500 million people have spent their birthdays during the lockdown. My quarantine birthday was unusual in many ways. I spent it in our condo, whereas on normal days, I would spend it out of town. I watched a nature documentary whereas on normal days, I would be swimming in the sea. I received an unusually high number of homemade food deliveries from loving friends, whereas on normal days, Facebook greetings would be enough. I thought I'd be celebrating my "Dirty 30" doing something else—most likely "walwal" in a

bar with my friends. The world had other plans. On my 30th year on earth, I treated myself to a cup of steaming hot masala chai, praying that the lockdown would not be extended and we could finally have some semblance of normal life.

Afternoon delight in the form of masala chai

I brew my tea in a purposeful manner. I boil hot water, add milk and some spices: cinnamon, star anise and saffron. When the pot comes to a simmer, I add Darjeeling black loose tea leaves for a few minutes before I pour it onto an insulated metal teapot. "That sure is a lot of work," my mom said one time. My parents have noticed how I’ve increased my kitchen time as of late. Normally, I would probably just steep a Twinings teabag in hot water in haste. Or more accurately, I would just go to the downstairs CBTL and order one chai latte to go. The faster, the better. But I have all the time in the world now. I'm not doing things just for speed or convenience. I'm doing it with purpose. It's a self-love ritual. The end product, the masala chai, is my daily afternoon delight. A couple of my friends have found their chi in kneading bread, baking chocolate chip cookies or mixing cocktails. My slightly overachieving friends have found comfort in daily circuit training practice at home. Whatever ritual you've found, keep it. Make it your thing. These little rites reaffirm us and nourish our soul, doing wonders to our mental health. They remind us to appreciate the little things, fill our senses, appreciate day by day and be conscious of how we spend our precious hours. I hope that during the GCQ, we won't forget our self-love rituals. We might not realize it, but these rituals have probably saved us.





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