I am essentially a person who hates cooking, cleaning or for that matter doing any work around the house . In other words you could call me a lazy bum !
I had worked in a prestigious travel company ( perhaps the first fully owned Indian company in the country ) for 37 years . I enjoyed every minute of it . Meeting people , organising their travel , getting to know them and their families … that was my priority ( apart from my immediate family) . I would always find excuses not to enter the kitchen to cook or get involved in any activity that needed attention at home . I was fortunate to have reliable help at home which allowed me this luxury.
I retired in July 2018 to spend time with my mother who was diagnosed with leukaemia. She moved in with us in April of that year . That was the best decision I have ever taken in my life since I was able to spend quality time with her , chat and watch crazy Indian serials with her . I lost my mom in April 2019 and with no job and no mom to take care of I was totally lost . I went to the USA along with my husband in May 2020 to spend time with our two sons and returned in October . Then I started to travel , met my two brothers in Chennai and Mumbai respectively and decided to visit the third and eldest sibling in Australia in August 2020 . In the interim period I had some super visits to meet school and college mates and a visit to Coorg with cousins . This went on till March when two events changed the course of my existence!!
One ,the whole world knows ,was the dreaded corona virus which threw normal living as we know it totally out of gear . The other which most of you are unaware of , was the entry into my life of an angel in the form of Sushma Shetty, my lovely neighbour on the first floor. I have known her and Kishan ever since they moved into the building nearly two decades ago . I have seen their two kids since their birth and who have grown into fine young lads . .
The first time I visited their apartment was for their gruhapravesham ( house warming) . The Shettys keep a very elegant home … something I had always dreamed of but too lazy to get involved with ! I love to see beautiful homes, pretty but practical kitchens, lovely gardens and many other things which are a visual treat . Kishan is an amazing architect and interior designer . Sushma adds to his expertise with her flair for placing stuff at the right spots to make it aesthetically appealing.
From the time I retired I had been planning ( in my mind ) to do a make over of my place specially the kitchen and balcony but kept dragging my feet on the issue as usual .The idea was to hand over the place to the Shetty’s while I was away in the USA . But the demise of my mom left me in no mood to consider this plan .
However during the lockdown period when I had no option but to enter the kitchen to not only cook but to wash the dishes too . I realised how I had neglected the place with the excuse that I was too busy . During this period I was hospitalised ( no , not COVID ) due to severe pain in my stomach . I was there for about 4 days when angel Sushma took over the task of ferrying my husband to and from the hospital and insisted on picking me up when I was discharged ! Something no one would do in these stress filled times ! God bless her ! She would even take care of her immediate neighbour ….another senior citizen ! For folks like us whose children are away Sushma was indeed a godsend . Her concern for us was so great that one lady worker asked me if she was my daughter ! I said yes but unfortunately not a biological one
Soon realisation dawned on me that if Sushma could do so many different things ( voluntary teaching at a school for the blind , conducting Vedic classes on line , keeping her home Spic and span , taking care of her family etc ) why I was so reluctant to get anything started ??? I had over a year ago consulted them regarding redoing the kitchen by totally dismantling the place and also to beautify the balcony . However I developed cold feet and requested them to just upgrade the kitchen . They couldn’t change it dramatically as I told them not to break the granite counters and so that limited their creativity .
As soon as the decision was made everything went like clockwork . The Kitchen was taken over by masked workers ( lockdown had been lifted ) , sanitizers in place , regular washing of hands were all part of the drill . On day one all the old cupboards etc were pulled out , the place was cleaned up of the clutter and then for a week no activity . They had taken measurements for new cupboards and were getting them ready at the factory . I could just make coffee at home and fortunately for me my own Swiggy ( my cook Uma Garu who lives close by )used to send us our meals.
Once the workers came back it was chaos and I for a few hours regretted starting this venture . I could not run away to any other city as no transport was available. So with mask on I used to sit in my bedroom with my two good friends ( Amazon prime and Netflix) for company and I would watch the workers troop in and out going about their job . I also used to watch the serials my mother other had got me addicted to when she was with me. My friends ask me why I continue to watch them especially when my mother is no more . I tell them that she will insist on an update of her favourite shows when I meet her in the other world.
There were times when I wondered if the work would ever get done , whether it was worth the effort , whether it was necessary…and to add to this my husband was trying to scare the daylights out of me about social distancing !! But I am made of sterner stuff . I believe in taking as much precautions as humanly possible but refuse to get paranoid about the situation . I am a firm believer of karma and destiny and that what has to happen will happen .
For three weeks we had painters carpenters masons at home ofcourse at different times . Kishan and Sushma would come quite often to oversee their work . They would pay such attention to minute details and make them redo stuff which was not upto their expectations. I must confess that Kishan had some unique and novel ideas of how to use the space that had earlier been unused as it was not accessible.e.g taking a window back to make the kitchen look bigger and allow more light . He also put up a tank in the wash area so that I did not have to fill buckets out of fear that I would not have water . Not just that , their choice of fitting a beautiful basin in the dining area is indeed a piece de resistance.
Once the work was done Sushma took over and rearranged the entire kitchen and balcony . She also helped reorganising the furniture in the living / dining area . She did such an amazing job and I am so thrilled with the outcome .The tributes paid my friends and family who had seen the old and present pics of the renovated areas bordered on the superlative.
Finally a miracle has occurred . Lazy J ( that’s me ) is no longer that . I have reinvented myself much to my own surprise. I actually sit for hours in the balcony , meditate, (again insisted upon by Sushma ) listen to music and read a book. I developed an interest in knitting also ( my brother Giri jokes that the family is happy and relieved that I knit and thankfully do not nitpick )
Active J also spends time in the kitchen doing a little bit of cooking and of course making sure that it is kept as clean as possible But I have gradually found myself learning how to cook a variety of dishes, (Indian, Italian Thai and Chinese) from the cookery recipes online . It has come to a stage when my fussy husband actually looks forward to taste the dishes I make, rather than order food from restaurants.
People who know me well can see how these various activities have been an inspiration for me in making lifestyle changes . They are surprised or should I say shocked at my change in attitude about house work. They were even more surprised to notice how COVID 19 has brought about this miraculous change in me by bringing about a constructive and positive attitude to life .
I cannot thank Sushma and Kishen enough for their help , advice and support over the years . Their son Yash has been our saviour when it comes to electronic stuff and computers ! Ravi and I are part of the computer illiterate senior citizens group . We have told Yash he cannot leave Hyderabad unless he trains his younger brother Tanay to cater to our needs in this area .
I am eternally grateful to Kishan and Sushma for creating a fabulous atmosphere …much more than my expectations , but they can be sure I will enjoy their creations to the maximum !!