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Lessons from the lockdown

Zubin D’Souza

I have always envisioned an extremely exhilarating end-of-days finale for the world as we know it. I have always believed that the world would go out in a blaze of glory; a rising up of artificial intelligence that would turn our weapons against us or a zombie scourge that would have us cowering in fear till the last of us had our brains eaten out of our skulls or a scientific experiment going rogue where dinosaurs would be back to reclaim the earth as we know it.
An asteroid hit would have been a great finale; a last spectacular pyrotechnic display before we meet a fiery end.
Either I have a wild imagination or I watch too many movies. The fact remains that no matter the scenario that played out in the end, I was geared up for a magnificent finish. In my thoughts it was going to be a trueand glorious finish worthy of an IMAX screening by a legendary director.
Honestly, I wasn’t really prepared for an anticlimax. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that the mightiest of earth have been felled by a teeny tiny virus.
And then the death knell was announced. The only way to stay safe and to protect our loved ones from this virus was to lock ourselves up for a period of three weeks.
This was not to be a drill; there were no monsters lurking on the outside, no death rays and poison gas but you had to stay in if you did not want to be another statistic added to the list.
What were we to do? What supplies were we to pack? I wasn’t bothered about entertainment because I had numerous streaming platforms within easy reach and a couple of books and board games handy should the lever be pulled and the lights switched off.
My stress point was going to be nourishment!
What do I pack for my days of confinement? Should I be thinking gourmet and pack the caviar and foie gras? Or should I be going frugal? Is it to be global…or local?
Over thinking is one of my many faults and by the time I dragged myself out of the multiple worst-case scenarios that I created for myself, I reached the supermarket that was literally stripped bare.
I saw folks carting away toilet rolls in quantities that could only have been achieved by levelling half of the Amazonian forests.
The ready-to-eat meals were gone as were a majority of stuff from the frozen foods display. It would have always been nice to have some of this stuff in my trolley and more back home
The canned food section was picked clean. I would have loved to pick up a couple of cans of baked beans or any other sort of legumes, peas and beans for myself. Canned tomatoes would have been a great addition as well; save me the trouble of seeking out the fresh and plump ones as well as allowing me to use the liquid to cook off dried food like pasta.
I wasn’t too surprised to see the instant food gone; no soup, noodles, ramen or jelly crystals. This should have literally been my first port of call. Instant food is an amazing comfort food to have in times of crisis plus they keep incredibly well and literally need no refrigeration or special storage facilities.
Onions and potatoes last a long time and placing an apple amongst the potatoes will prevent them from sprouting.
Apples can also keep for a year under refrigeration.
Surprisingly folks left a major part of the vegetable section intact.
I guess that they probably thought that delicate leafy greens would go bad soon. I know better!
I dumped a few bundles of spinach in my cart; I would quick blanch them in boiling salted water and then pack them in little packets to be frozen and used at my leisure.
I was to use a similar technique with neatly diced carrots and cauliflower and broccoli florets.
I also decided to turn some thinly sliced carrots, beets and sweet potatoes into crisps. Besides tasting awesome, the baked version makes for a no-guilt treat.
I picked up some cabbage that I would flavour with bay leaves, palm sugar and homemade vinegar and convert into homemade sauerkraut and I pickled the remaining beets in a salt and sugar brine solution that would ensure that they stayed preserved until I needed them pressed into service.
The frozen peas were gone but I picked up dried peas, whole lentils and legumes that I was likely to sprout; the same goes with the wheat grains that lay untouched. Besides enjoying myself a bit of wheatgrass that would also build on my immunity, I could boil the grains and make myself a beautiful salad whenever I wanted.
People had taken the biscuits and the chips; the nutrition content is insignificant but they have long shelf lives and sure do help to alleviate boredom.
In crisis times such as these, I personally prefer to pick up protein-rich biscuits from the medical stores.
The butter and cheese were gone which is sad and would have been a great addition to my overflowing list. Apart from being a perfect source of good fats, they are the best deliverers of instant energy.
I wasn’t too bothered because I found myself some tetra packs of milk that I planned on curdling into fresh cheese when the need arose.
I could have bought some cream and churned into homemade butter but then thought that I surely wouldn’t have the time.
On second thoughts and with three weeks of mind-numbing isolation in mind, I headed down the aisle to pick a few packs! And should we make it safely to the other side; I promise to share my bounty with you!

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