What Will Be, Will Be

As the birds chirp louder and happier than ever before, as the bark of the street dogs becomes more present and persistently so, we humans are left with gut-wrenching questions. It is left to us to fear the unknown, to worry about what will be tomorrow. The hows, whats and whys of the post-COVID-19 world and the new Corona world.

What will be

Will the pandemic resurge? If it does, will I catch it? Will my loved ones be safe? Can my partner and I survive another seemingly endless lockdown together? Will we live to see tomorrow?

Businessmen have additional questions. Can I reopen my business? Can I pay employees their salaries? If I can, will it function exactly the same way? Will my employees come back to work? Will customers come out in the same numbers? Will they expect exactly what they loved before?

Businesses need to strategize for a future that is as unclear to predict as any. Many new practices will need to be learned. A leap of faith and deep pockets thinking beyond personal gain are the call of the hour. No soothsayer me, but I predict the restaurant industry will comfort its base by replacing insta-worthy pics of food and drinks with insta-ugly photos showcasing their hygiene and cleaning standards and procedures. Each doing a louder job than its competitor to show off its new skills around clean environs.

Many of the practices that made businesses tick will remain relevant. Restaurants that survive this time of lockdown blessed with visionary leaders will open almost like nothing happened. Opening to the thrill of their patrons rediscovering their comfort foods and favorite cocktails, wines and spirits.

And then, for the betterment of our greater fraternity that we share across the planet, our human collective will strive to see life as we lived yesterday change its ways to reflect what we’ve learned in our Corona reflections. Seeds sown about what to do differently will bear fruit. It will require time, some living, and much learning before the harvest takes us to a new fairer-for-all playing field.

But that might be too utopian and grand a thought.

Human beings have thick skins, short attention spans, and better memories in our muscles than in our minds. Being creatures of habit, we could find our old lives comforting and charming. This pandemic and the meltdowns it brought about might be soon forgotten. We will be back to business as usual.

It’s too bad that capitalism isn’t easily forgotten. Capitalism trumps humanity, sympathy, empathy and fear. Bottom lines can outweigh our newfound respect for hygiene at home, in our streets, at our restaurants, and other public places. When the cost for security for all hits our wallets, our muscle memories can bring back selfish old and even more costly behaviors.

I hope I am wrong. I am reading and reflecting, writing and singing, and most of all, gardening away and sowing for a tomorrow with new beginnings. But I am also a realist. After 27 years of living in New York City, I am afraid that even COVID-19 is no match for capitalism.

Music Transporting Life and Living

Shubh

Brooklyn-based composer Shubh Saran counts his family and Remember Shakti, the quintet which brought together jazz and Indian music, as two of the greatest influences on his life and work.

At a recent standing-room-only performance in Delhi days before the Corona madness hit India, Saran and his band had his audience entranced by their performance that was equal parts music and staged connection between the artists. Bold and energetic, melodic and harmonious, soulful and edgy, all at once. Certainly Saran’s music is transportive and could vivify any mind, body, and soul.

When asked if his music has the power to comfort people in these Corona times, Saran says, “As a listener, I seek out music to make sense of what I’m feeling and to allow it to transport me outside of my current surroundings. I’d like to think my music can have the same impact. I write about things that are deeply personal and hope that other people can relate to some of the same themes from their own lives.”

He continues, “Like many, I find myself caught in the middle of a series of canceled shows, navigating through an empty summer calendar. I’ve been using this time to compose and practice things I didn’t have time for before, but mostly reminding myself to be grateful for everything I do have during these trying times.”

Like many true artists, Saran calls home a land he lives far away from (New Delhi), and finds endless inspiration from the land he has adopted as his home (New York).  Inspiration that comes from being an outsider.  From living passionately. Lost to work, and so lost to feelings of angst for not really having a home.

Download Shubh Saran’s music—his latest EP is Becoming, which can be found online on all the streaming services, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, etc.—and you will discover music that will help you find harmony in becoming one with the life that is leading you forward.


Capitalism or Capitalizing? A Recipe For Living & Eggplant

Paras

Capitalism is a rat race, a religion that requires nearly 24/7 devotion. If we are not ideating about making money, making money, or investing money, we are thinking about how much money we will need when we are incapable of making more money. Capitalism has robbed us of time for ourselves, time to indulge in those hobbies and passions we have always yearned to make part of our lives. We never tire of listing all the things we would do if we had five extra minutes each day. Yet, today, when we have all the time in the world and nothing to distract us, we are failing, falling apart, and worrying about how to get re-engaged in the same madness that robs us of our souls, of time to be ourselves.

This is the time to read a book or two or three and broaden our horizons in earnest. Keeping a diary would give us cathartic release that no therapist could provide. We could sing, dance, knit, embroider, paint, sculpt, bake, cook—chase and learn and perfect whatever it is that we have always wanted to do.

Yet, all we seem to do today is complain about being locked down. If Corona isn’t killing us, our attitude, our utter lack of imagination, and our laziness are the viruses which are murdering our souls.

From the culinary talents of a boy barely a teenager, we can learn how to use lockdown free time to good end. Instead of complaining of boredom, 14-year-old Paras Nigam capitalizes on his time to search out new adventures at home.

Whether learning to play the tabla at age six or climbing Dholkal Mountain or staying with the tribals at Jabara Village in their dwellings, Paras has always found adventure. And now, cooped up at home, he has discovered the delights of the kitchen.

Follow his example, try his recipe, and hopefully discover cooking to be a lockdown essential. You may end up becoming more mindful as you live post-Covid and enter the Corona arena.

Here is Paras’s recipe of cheesy eggplant that’s as simple as the snap of your fingers, a delicious filler for in between meals.

Slice a small eggplant into thin circles and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and chili flakes. Grill them on the griller while you grate cheese and peel garlic cloves. Drizzle bread slices with melted butter. Place the grilled eggplant on the bread. Garnish with grated cheese, rosemary, oregano and more chili flakes and cover with another slice of the buttery bread. Grill in the toaster while you make a sauce of garlic, butter and fresh lemon. Serve hot and crisp.