Sunday, May 17, 2020

Quarantine- when you discover everyone has hidden talents and you have none

The last 50 plus days of quarantine have been extremely distressing for me. I had to experience the ignominy of discovering that every single one of my friends and acquaintances, including the ones I had long dismissed as useless, have hidden talents. While everyone I knew and did not care to know was busy channeling their inner Jamini Roy, Lady Gaga. Behen halwai, Nigella minus the decolletage, handstand diva, I discovered I had none.

Maybe their huge reserves of talent was a shy thing, bit of an introvert, waiting for an epidemic to be coaxed out of the closet? Perhaps the anxiety pangs of dying from a mere virus had made everyone desperate to seek refuge in creative pursuits and discover to their horror they were damn good! I would stay up all night desperately seeking answers to these questions. I even tried passing off insomnia as a talent but realised it was too commonplace.

Initially it wasn’ t this bad. I was too busy feeling euphoric and was determined to make the most of this unexpected break from the outside world. One could actually open windows without being assaulted by cacophonous sounds of screechy traffic. The air had become so clean, I could actually see my neighbour weeping on her balcony. Rivers were detoxing with relief. I would often stand near our windows for hours hoping to spot a leopard.

Nature was healing, you know!

As an act of self preservation I pretended not to care at all. I had even mastered the dead fish look while I faked astonishment and awe with panache. But pretty soon it became impossible to be the ostrich and ignore the sudden influx of talent parades. Inside me was a raging dust-storm. My heart was breaking into tiny pieces. I tried assuring myself my heart would emulate the Japanese art of Kintsugi. The broken pieces would magically rejoin themselves with lacquer dusted gold and become so beautiful that I’d be tempted to take it out and flaunt it for envious glances.

Even as I was busy dismissing these divas as wenches suffering from performance anxiety, constantly seeking validation from strangers who they will never meet, a part of me was dying to wear the crown. I wanted to do back flips and splits in my living room, without crashing into the furniture and breaking a limb or two! I wanted my breads to rise and shine and sing an aria too while they were at it! I was finding it impossible to accept I was a lazy oaf who lacked the willpower to pick up a new skill, or master a language I may never use.

My impatience and addiction for a drug called Netflix was the biggest impediment between me and imminent greatness. Obviously I have many hidden talents. I just don’t have the time to rake them out!

Eventually I did find my refuge, not in french bread braids, overripe bananas or my vocal chords, but in my rows and rows of potted plants. If I could clean pigeon potty all day and feel like their long lost Mom without wings, surely I could adopt my plants and smother them with tender care! Plus they needed protection from these winged assholes who were treating my helpless plants like their ‘all you can eat buffet!’

These days when I’m not having intense conversations with my plants, giving them pep talks on growth charts and targets, I’m involved in their grooming. A nip here, a tuck there, and they look party ready. Since they are total failures at self defence, you can often see me running like Hima Das and raging like Mamata Banerjee , trying to protect them from incessant pecking by my resident winged rodents. I even tried assisting in the birth of a few potted herbs. I mean who doesn’t love fresh from the patio mint, cherry tomatoes, sweet basil, and fiery chillies! Unfortunately most of them chose an early death over my anxiety ridden caregiving.

I may have finally found my true vocation as a serial plant killer. That’s a talent, right? Damn, let me do some home workout to celebrate! That’s another thing I’m really good at. Duck walks, crab walks, dead bug, burpees challenge, plank hold till paralysis sets in are my favourite way to die first thing in the morning. Also, when the world reopens, I want to fit into all my dresses and stun everyone with my reduced waistline.

I’m still not able to make up my mind, which talent to choose to make me everyone’s heartburn. Should I make a YouTube tutorial on how to make gunpowder out of pigeon potty and earn the adulation of millions of grateful men and women! Or upload a post on how to have curd rice in 15 different ways!

I could always add mop analyst to my growing feathers on my cap. I have done an inordinate amount of research and money in finding that swashbuckling mop that can reach every nook and corner of the house at my bidding. In my new avatar as ponchha guru, I can educate men and women how to not let BJP (Bartan jhadoo ponchha) fuck with their lives during quarantine.

Phew, I can finally sleep without tossing and turning, now that I know I am not letting quarantine pass without disappointing my eagerly waiting fans. 


  1. The pandemic has brought about changes in life that one could never imagine! Best of luck in the new pursuits till lockdown 4.0 and beyond, Purba!

    1. I’m sorry, but I refuse to treat quarantine as a productivity contest
      And thank you so much for reading

  2. This post had me laughing out loud :) 'Serial plant killer' especially. You lady, are a female PG Wodehouse!! Thanks a lot for the dose of Humour :)

  3. Covers a lot of mountainous territory. Relatable in most aspects. Loved it!

  4. When in doubt, reject. so you disqualify to qualify the latent talent.Simple.

  5. Ha ha ha ... this was SUCH an uplifting read. To be honest I did try to climb onto the creativity bandwagon but it wasn't much use. While people dished out bread and cake, I managed to master regular khana - that's my only achievement.

  6. You the original lockdown queen!

  7. Phew! Much relieved and of course, entertained by your tongue-in-cheek account of your quarantine-defying, instant morbidity removing, 'path- breaking'creativity, and talent!๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…


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