Indian men, cooking and kitchen chores – Covid-19 and beyond

In May this year, I put forth a question in a food group on Facebook. The group, which has over 155,900 members worldwide, a majority of them Indians, is a space for people to connect over ‘food talk’ but it is not just about food or recipes. As the pinned post about the group’s guidelines informs, this is a place to connect, mingle and share. Very often, you would find that the discussions on the group range from a number of things – from seeking suggestions and ideas on baby names, to sharing decor and festive tips, and sometimes, women would post in a lighter vein – how their spouses had failed to follow the simplest of instructions when it came to buying groceries or cooking rice in the rice cooker. In my post, I asked if the men did any cooking – participating, and playing an active part in the kitchen. I wanted to hear from men and women both. I asked, because I was curious.

“A Jain temple sent us lunch and dinner for a month, free of cost. No questions asked”

says Rishabh Lalani, who revisits the numerous acts of generosity and kindness he received when his entire family, including his younger brother, mother, and father tested positive for Covid-19. For Lalwani, who works as an independent consultant to the not-for-profit sector, the pandemic was an opportunity to reflect on why people are inspired to offer unconditional support and help in a time of great distress. This story, is a part of our series on Covid-19 and compassion. This particular series invited people to share any experiences of goodness and kindness that they had come across as the pandemic raged in India, especially those that they had encountered first-hand.

“Handwritten notes expressing concern, personal follow-ups asking for individual food preferences were some of the other kindnesses shown”

says Ayanti Guha, as she recounts how her gated community in Hyderabad rose up to the challenges of Covid-19, with a group of over 60 women coming together to provide home-made, healthy and delicious meals to those affected by the virus.

We are focusing on ‘Covid Kindness’

As India battles the deadly second wave of Covid-19, almost everyone who tests positive is struggling to find lifesaving medicines, oxygen cylinders and hospital beds – and this holds especially true for those who require immediate medical intervention. Families are trying to hold on to their health and wellbeing. But some of us have also encountered help and kindness in the midst of all the mayhem. From individuals and organisations. It is this kindness which has helped many of us stay afloat. We want to hear these stories.

“Kindness is a panacea for the pandemic”

says Laksmi Ajay, who writes about experiencing it in its purest form in the past few weeks. Ajay, a communications professional based in Bangalore, and her husband fell sick with Covid-19 as the second wave encompassed India in its deadly grip. As they battled its manifold symptoms – help, and one that really made a difference came from strangers.

“Before I became an adoptive parent myself, I theoretically knew that each child deserves a family who passionately loves and protects them”

Says Smriti Gupta, who is a child rights campaigner, and a partnerships and marketing professional. She is working to drive awareness and find lasting solutions for India’s most vulnerable children. In this interview with The Good Story Project, she talks about running a Facebook group that supports Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs), how a family can prepare themselves prior to bringing home a child, as well as her campaign on Safe Surrender. Gupta also addresses several pertinent issues regarding adoption in India, including the lack of maternity leave for parents who bring home an older child.

“When a five-year-old boy called my three-year-old son his enemy”

Recalls Eisha Sarkar, a communications professional, and in this piece, she reflects on her journey as a parent and describes incidents, books and literature that helped her chart her own journey through motherhood.

“When I think of our daughter and how both of them missed getting to know each other, I feel a lump in my throat”

Says Vadodara-based artist and sculptor Zaida Jacob whose daughter was only a year and half when Jacob lost her husband in 2002. In this piece, she shares what grief feels like – tracing her memories to the time when she had just lost her spouse and 19 years later. She also shares her thoughts on how one can help a person who is grieving as well as how loss shapes a person…

What did The Good Story Project stories teach us?

“I always thought no one can ever understand me because my situation and my life experiences have been extraordinarily different. Not all in a good, extraordinarily different way though. But after reading Jerry Pinto’s interview here, I think he will definitely understand me. His words moved me to a place of quiet acceptance of allContinue reading “What did The Good Story Project stories teach us?”

What kindness meant in 2020

The Good Story Project started in the midst of the pandemic. Many of the stories that it featured reflected in part, what was happening around us as a result of Covid-19. In the beginning of 2021, we thought we could use this opportunity to reflect on the issues and things that really mattered, that left an impact on us and will guide us in the years to come. And that is why, we decided to focus on kindness.

Do I look like a person with mental illness in this photo?

Once, a journalist, after, I mentioned in a meeting that I have a mental illness, asked me “Why did you say that? I have never seen you talking irrationally, so you can’t be mentally ill.” I told him, “You might call me tomorrow 50 times and get no response, because the days I am more depressed, I cannot find strength to take a phone call.” He looked and smiled. Did he believe me? I am not sure.

“Disrupted adoptions have gone from being very rare to over 1,000 children in the past five years”

Says Sangitha Krishnamurthi, a special educator and adoptive parent. In this essay, she talks about some of the aspects that are often pushed under the carpet when talking about adoption

‘Punctual, extremely courteous, with a photographic memory – Babi was all this and more’

Karishma Upadhyay is a veteran film journalist, a specialist on Bollywood. Parveen Babi – A Life, is her first book, for which, she interviewed the star’s former friends, lovers, and colleagues to build a portrait that is rich and multi-layered. Upadhyay spoke to PRERNA SHAH about the research that went into making the book, as well as about bringing to light several lesser-known facets of Babi’s life and personality.

“Growing up, I was called pagal ka bachcha (child of a mad woman)”

says Amandeep Sandhu, author of the novel Sepia Leaves (2007), Roll of Honour (2012), and Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines (2019). This conversation is a part of our series on mental health and illness, as we talk to people whose voices have brought to life, with empathy, and without judgement, what is it to live with a mental illness or to care for someone who does.

The voices among us – a series of interviews on mental health

Actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death and what followed thereafter gave an immediate impetus to do this series of interviews. We wanted to share real, lived experiences of people as well as mental health professionals. Think of these interviews as a pool of resources. Come to these interviews as and how you like — to hear voices that speak to you, to find shared, common ground, out of curiosity, to explore your own self, or to broaden your horizons. There’s no judgement here or an attempt to preach.

“As a child, I longed for a normal mother. I did not know what a normal mother was”

says journalist, writer and author Jerry Pinto. This conversation is a part of our series on mental health and illness, as we talk to people whose voices have brought to life, with empathy and without judgement, what is it to live with a mental illness or to care for someone who does.

“We had a wonderful time driving around within a 50 km radius of Bangalore, looking at land. A year of picnics!”

says Harini Gopalswami Srinivasan, who describes herself as a natural farmer and sometime children’s writer. In this interview with Prerna Shah, she talks about how she made the shift to a rural, farm-based life and if, inspired by the choices made available by the Covid-19 work-from-home options, you want to consider a shift too, read on…