As the outbreak of novel Corona virus 2019 disease (COVID-19) wrecks havoc across the world, it has led to the shutdowns of everything, be it factories, markets, railways, airlines, educational institutions, hotels, amusement parks, museums, theatres and even borders. Tourist spots have worn a deserted look. Till now it has claimed thousands of lives which is heart aching. What makes it even more dangerous is that no vaccine or medicine of any sort is available to combat this pandemic. We don’t have any weapon in our arsenal against this monster. Almost entire world is in a state of lockdown. This is an unforeseen situation. Indian Railways has to shut its operations for passengers for the first time in the history of India after independence. The famous ‘Tanot Mata’ temple near Jaisalmer has been closed for the very first time in 1200 years. Very large proportion of the world’s population is witnessing scenario of this type for the first time outside a Hollywood movie (and I pray to the Almighty, that this would be the last time).
Everyone knows that every coin has two sides. Amidst all these negative news, let’s try to see the other side of the coin. Since social distancing is the only solution till known to check spread of this pandemic, everyone is either working from home or at home. Although unfortunate but this state of lockdown gives everyone a good chance to spend time with one’s family, pet, plants etc. Many of us are having a tough time being confined in homes. In this post of mine, I have come up with some ideas, which you may find interesting and useful for utilizing this break.
1) Learn a new language..
It is always good to learn something new. Communicating with others using Script and Language was one of most important invention of mankind. Learning a new language opens many new avenues and job prospects etc. By learning a new language you can directly connect with a new culture, literature, history, philosophy, people of a nation(s) or entire civilization. There is plethora of YouTube channels and websites, offering online assistance in learning new language. Some of the good websites are Live Lingua, Learnalanguage. Duolingo, Babble, FluentU, Memrise, Rype which might be helpful in learning any new language. There are several mobile apps too. Best language learning apps are Memrise, LinguaLift, Duolingo, HelloTalk, Mindsnacks, Busuu, Babbel, TripLingo.
2. Learn how to play a musical instrument
For an artist music is another name of God. Music has such powerful gift of nature that not only effects human but also animals and even plants. Music is everywhere in the nature, but we have just forgotten it in our daily life’s chaos.
So, it is the high time to learn how to play any musical instrument, we had ever wished for. Be it Guitar, Flute, Ukulele, Bass, Drum, Mandolin, any thing. Although you can’t be an expert in such a short time, as mastery can be achieved only through consistently hard practice over the years. But at least you can quench the thirst of an artist within you. Tons of stuff is hidden in various YouTube channels and various websites that can help you immensely. Some of the apps for instrumental music are listed here. Most of them are free of cost but some may require a purchase.
- Simply Piano.
- Voice Training.
- Tiny Piano.
An app named as VoxTrain can be used for vocal.
3) Learn to play indoor games
Playing a game has always been the most favorite time-pass of many of us in childhood. We only came to know after growing up that how vital was it for our development, both physically and mentally. Now it has been proved by the scientists that any activity that challenges your brain like strategy games or mental exercises also reduces the chances of Alzheimer’s in old age.
There are many excellent games like Chess, Sudoku, Scrabble etc. which can be played for hours, either alone or in groups. The kids can be kept busy at YouTube Kids, Voot Kids app or many other similar apps. My brother-in-law Abhijeet, who is in a reputed software firm in Bengaluru is now-a-days recalling his childhood memories and to refresh himself post his work from home session by playing online Ludo and Carom.
Chess is said to be originated in India. It then moved towards Persia and Afghanistan through westward India. It got more modernized in Persia. Chess was supposed to be invented by the daemon king Raavan to amuse his wife Mandodari because she didn’t want her husband to spend all of his time in the war. There are several websites which can turn a novice into an expert, Chess.com, Chesscoachonline, Chesskid.com (specially for kids), Worldchesspieces.com are among many.
Sudoku is an excellent mind boggling game for the lone. It originated in Switzerland and then traveled to Japan via America. The name Sudoku comes from Japan and consists of the Japanese characters Su (meaning ‘number’) and Doku (meaning ‘single’). Sudoku has its deep roots in ancient number puzzles. Sudoku originally called Number Place is a logic-based, combinatoric number-placement puzzle. Some good websites are here as Sudoku.com, Kristanix.com, Sudokuessentials.com, bigfishgames.com.
Scrabble is a word game in which two to four players score points by placing tiles, each bearing a single letter, onto a game board divided into a 15×15 grid of squares. The tiles must form words that, in crossword fashion, read left to right in rows or downward in columns, and be included in a standard dictionary or lexicon. Some good android apps for Scrabble are
- Aworded Crack.
- Classic Words Solo.
- Words With Friends 2.
4) Hone your cooking skills
Cooking is probably the oldest skill set mastered by the homo sapiens after hunting and till today is one of the most rewarding businesses of the world. Thousands of the websites, news paper columns, YouTube channels, TV channels, magazines, online courses are dedicated to cookery. You can also perform some mining in the cyber space and find something that could pamper your taste buds (Don’t hesitate to cook something new. Your guinea pigs are wandering around.. lol). And yes..there are some really good apps those keep an eye on your calories intake and burn like MyFitnessPal, HealthifyMe, NOOM etc.
5) Plan your December Vacations
I simply love this, planning for a vacation tour. Planning for a tour is equally exciting for me as the actual tour. I enjoyed most, penning down this section of the post. This unfortunate situation of lockdown is temporary and will be over soon and you will again wanderlust, free to fly. You can refer to my previous posts for some ready to eat delicacies. 🙂
Most of the population of the world is confined to their homes these days. So feel the same excitement while staying at home by finalizing your upcoming trip. Finalize the place, hotels, reservations, flights etc. May be you get some early bird prizes in form of confirmed reservations, cheap flight, good hotels at cheap rates etc..
6) Elderly people can learn how to use online banking, social media etc..
This is an era of internet. We have moved very far from 8085 (Microprocessor that was designed by Intel in 1976) to IoT (a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines). I have seen, even in my family, elderly people struggling with modern gadgets and their application like on-line banking, social networking, on-line shopping, transferring and saving files etc. or using smart phones, digital camera, coffee makers, microwave ovens etc.
So, in the ongoing break, we can help our senior citizens to get them used to with these gadgets and applications. You have got this opportunity to spend time with them. Helping them in this way will certainly make them more confident and please you in addition to save your worries.
7) Revive your Hobby like Origami, Philately, Photography, Gardening, Numismatics, Painting etc..
Every one of us must have a hobby like philately, numismatics etc., in our school days and we felt very proud to present our collections to the guests. There are many books on internet which cater to the hobby of your choice. To help in attaining origami skills, you can refer to the sites like Origami.me, Origamiway.com, Origami for Kids. Likewise if you are interested in philately, gardening, photography or any such hobby, it is the right time to be a master in your chosen fields.
Say if you love gardening, plant some new plant, paint the pots, mix manure in soil, try making compost, you can also try your hands in making bonsai. Few sites which could be beneficial in bonsai making are BonsaiEmpire, WikiHow, Bonsai Tree Gardener. You can further explore many such skill and related help. I am shaping these days few of my bonsai including a Banyan tree which is around thirty years old.
Likewise if photography attracts you, try your hands on a different genre or a post processing software, manage your old albums etc.
You can even explore new hobbies like star gazing (provided if you have a good telescope or an astronomical binoculars) or bird watching (a good 8×40 or 10×50 binoculars will do. I use a Pantax 10×50 XCF). During this break I spotted a hawk, a big Indian horned owl, a Magpie and a pair of Copper-smith Barbet .
8) Read books of your choice
“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” – Erasmus
Books are considered as the best friend of a man (of a woman too :)) Books are our best companies because they increase our knowledge, make us happy and wise. People with good reading habits are generally found to be more knowledgeable than the people who don’t read books at all. This is why, make books your best companion in life. In this internet age, our reading habits have changed a lot. Believe me, reading printed books has its own age old charm but no matter printed or electronic, reading books is very admirable habit. This CORONA break has provided us a valuable time to brush up our old love for books. So grab a old good book form your collection or visit any online library like Open Library, World Digital Library, Wiley Online Library. National Digital Library of India is such an initiative taken by HRD ministry in India. Internet is full of free ebooks of every genre. Just use any search engine for eBook. Gutenberg, Free eBooks, Many Books, BookBub, BoonBoon, GoodReads are few examples from millions of such websites. You can also download apps like Kindle on your smart phone and download many free books on Amazon. Nook, Kobo, Foxit, FBReader, FullReader, Aldiko are some other excellent eReader.
9) Take a virtual tour of many Museums, Zoo, Art Galleries and Theme Parks
Zoological Gardens and Aquariums
A zoo has been the most loved place of visit in childhood for the most among us. Thanks to technological advancements that we can visit a zoo even during this unusual time.
Atalanta Zoo, Georgia Aquarium shows a webcam installed in cabinet of a Beluga Whale, Houston Zoo, San Diego Zoo, National Aquarium at Baltimore and Monterey Bay Aquarium are few from a long list of zoo and aquariums world wide.
British Museum, The Louvre in Paris, National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Guggenheim Museum in New York, Musée d’Orsay in Paris, National Museum of Natural History, MASP in São Paulo, Uffizi Gallery in Florence are few names among a very large array of art galleries.
Theme parks attract the kids and adults alike. You can still enjoy the world famous theme parks even idling on your couch. The virtual tour of theme parks like SeaWorld Orlando, LEGOLAND Florida Resort and Walt Disney World are enough to amuse you.
10) Strengthen your Immunity
The is the most effective way to reduce the risk of this fatal disease is to strengthen your immune system and his lockdown is the best time to do it. In the hustle bustle of our life, we seldom find time for ourselves. Our eating habits make it even worse. One can utilise this lockdown period in improving one’s health and immunity. Bar closed, Pizzerias closed, Restaurants closed, Street foods closed, only fruits and vegetable shops are spared. So consume lot of fruits (specially citrus fruits) for which we couldn’t find time, fresh food cooked at home.
We should make a habit of exercising daily. Even if you exercise consistently for few hours during this lockdown, by the time it ends, you would feel a noticeable difference in you. Many easy and simple exercise postures and meditation techniques are explained on various YouTube channels. Several mobile apps both for iOS and android are available. Happify, Omvana, YOGA STUDIO, Mindfulness, Joyable, Calm, Mindful.org and Headspace are few names. You could also find many videos of ‘Pranayam’ and different ‘Yogasans’ of Swami Ramdev, who is a world renowned yoga instructor.
11) What else can be done
Besides this, you can connect to your old friends/batch-mates directly over phone and not through any social media application. Just a one to one video chat or a telephonic conversation. You can also plan at a predetermined time an e-ReUnion. Some applications like Zoom can be used for it. As many as hundred persons can attend the meeting. It will be fun for sure.
You can also think of reshuffling your furniture etc. This will give a new refreshed look to your home.
These ideas are neither exclusive nor exhaustive. Imagination has no limits. You can take your imagination and creativity to another heights. So share your ideas and suggestions as comments and let others be astonished by your creativity. Remember, as our Prime Minister Mr. Modi rightly said, “Increase social distancing and reduce emotional distancing.”
As everyone knows that every tunnel has light at its other end, this situation too will get over soon. Let’s pray together.