Lockdown Week 0: The whispers have it there is a lockdown coming. Headed to the shops to stock up only to discover the whispers were equivalent of the town crier’s bellows. Possibly the worst kept secret ever. Threw in three massive bottles of sanitizer (foam no less!) and stopped myself from adding a fourth. Next up – four large bottles of Dettol, six packs of anti-bacterial wipes, two disinfectant sprays, two large floor cleaners, six bottles of liquid hand wash. Now for the food. Lots of daal and rice. And biscuits. And chips. Wartime requires dry rations. Enough said. Now why is that woman eyeing my trolley? Hands off the sanitizer lady! Oh, damn. It’s a fellow ad person. Smiles are exchanged as we draw our trolleys protectively closer.
Lockdown Week 3: Ten packets of frozen chapattis and parathas, four packets of frozen vegetables. What the heck, let’s throw in the exorbitantly expensive frozen fruit as well. Time to start the baking! Hmmm. Will need flour, icing sugar – the unsalted Lurpak butter (tastes so much better than local and no other unsalted alternative, to kya karain). Cake tins, baking trays and butter paper. Time to get my Martha Stewart vibe on. Dozens of CAC 1000 (ooh! Lemon flavour!), Surbex Z, Vitamin D – what do you mean there are no ascorbic acid chewy tablets? More importantly, let me get those Veet waxing strips. Let’s throw in the Garnier sheet masks as well. Ab salon kaun jayega?
Lockdown Week 5: I can’t believe it. Agha’s has run out of Dettol. Will have to trek all the way to Carrefour. Well worth it. Carrefour had yellow Dettol! It smells of lemons! Squeezy mops, buckets, brooms and pans have been ordered off Facebook. House is shining and smelling good. Damn, I do a better job than the maid, who is blissfully unaware that baji might put her out of a job. Laundry detergent has been upgraded. Huge bottle of Tide bought with an equally huge bottle of Comfort. No Safeguard available so bought Dettol hand wash and Lifebuoy sanitizers. Still feels like I’m cheating. Looked around furtively as the cashier beeped it in. I will get over it. No, don’t look at the cigarettes. Who are you going to socially smoke with? Yes, good girl, get five packets of the sweets at the counter instead.
Lockdown Week 9: News of Agha’s closure was akin to news of a moderately loved one getting Covid. You are not heartbroken but there is a certain anxiousness and deep concern. Prayers are said. In the meantime there is Carrefour. Which requires one to walk through a deathly dark and quiet mall where leather products gather mould in the windows. A now exhausted Nordic Noir watch list on Netflix only adds to the discomfort in a peculiarly delicious way. Speaking of delicious, need ice-cream. Too hot to worry about the Covid virus dancing in my throat. Have been lathered in enough sanitizer and soap.
Lockdown Week 11: Stepped out and came right back. Traffic swarming. Revenge shopping in full throttle. Have become a consummate home shopper. Agha’s has bounced back and is delivering – my life is made. Though I wouldn’t advise getting local quinoa anytime soon. Also discovered that unbranded besan and maida is better. What else did I learn? Got my artistic groove back thanks to supplies delivered by Billboard. The Karachi One2One group on Facebook (uff so happening too) is a godsend for information, tips and contacts in a crisis. Though it’s currently swarming with people reselling brand new bikes – because in the new found jazba to post biking pics on Instagram, Chinese made mountain bikes were bought for city roads with aching glutes and hamstrings uniting DHA residents. The Deepak Chopra 21 Day Challenge has been completed. Feeling very Zen. And in need of a burger. Next step – tentatively start ordering food.
I might never leave the house again. Over and out.
Rashna Abdi is Chief Creative Officer, IAL Saatchi & Saatchi. firstname.lastname@example.org