Today is a special day for me on several counts. Today is the 463rd day of my self-isolation in my little sweet house in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.
I came to India on March 1, 2020, from London. Before that, I was holidaying in Venice—one of my favourite places. For last few decades, I have been dividing my time between London, New York, and Ahmedabad.
I came to Ahmedabad thinking I would spend three weeks in India to holiday and meet my extended family.
However, fate had something else in store for me. Coronavirus had reached India by March 2020 and things were terrible in New York and London. I have comorbidities: diabetes hypertension and a history of heartaches—a bypass in 1998— and therefore it was advisable to stay indoors.
It’s been 463 days to this decision. I avoid visitors, double mask myself, and also wear a shield when the cook or domestic help is around. The first phase of lockdown was tackled effectively in Gujarat. India was lauded for effectively countering the first wave of coronavirus. I took utmost care and didn’t even touch my phone without sanitizing it. Was it paranoia or precaution? I don’t know.
In fact, I started thinking about life. A lot. Its fickleness, its beauty, its’ mysteries and amidst a pandemic I fell in love with my life, again.
Getting up before the first ray of sun to walk of 10,000 plus steps, do yoga, pranayama, eat healthily, and hit the bed early. Good sleep, hunger, and enthusiasm to wake up every single morning were my real wealth.
Of the 463 days of isolation; I didn’t have a single moment of boredom. Unlike most people who lose their equilibrium due to home isolation, for me, a day of 24 hours seemed less. I inculcated engaging habits and began enjoying my company.
From my morning tea, soaked almonds, spoonful of fenugreek seeds, and steel-cut oats breakfast to the unsalted dinner; I made every meal of mine; a mindful one.
I water my plants, pour water in the bird feeders, feed peacocks, read at least four newspapers, and then get going for the day. One ritual I religiously follow is to dress up well—even if I’m not stepping outside my house. The idea to feel good when you look into the mirror. I dress up for myself and hardly repeat clothes.
My latest interest is the OTT shows; I began watching the Familyman and was instantly hooked to it. I always admired Manoj Bajpayee’s acting and it was a treat to watch him after so long.
One of the crucial aspects of my mental health is my social circle. Your people are your strength. I make sure to virtually meet my family—spread in three continents, friends, my grandchildren, and fulfill my need for social connections. I call at least six people every single day and never slept without conversing with my loved ones.
In short, I feel weird when someone says they feel lonely, bored, or isolated. Your best company should always be yourself. Only when you can be happy, you can make others around you happy is my philosophy. I remain constructively occupied and happiness is the way of my life.
Latest edition to my work life is the platform on which you are reading this piece. For the last 463 days, I have worked on Vibes of India. As the Chairman of the Company, I am happy that we have a young and motivated team. I have not met any of them personally but we Zoom regularly.
I finish 81 years of my life today. I am overwhelmed the Company decided to launch Vibes of India today.
I became a journalist when I was 17. I was trained by respected the late Bhupat Vadodaria. During my era, journalism was free, fair, and independent. I remember when Girilal Jain visited and stayed at home in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, and the holiday we took together. I have fond memories Ramnath Goenka as I served as the Editor in Chief of Loksatta and Jansatta, Gujarati editors of the Indian Express Group. I have the honour of being the first non-Parsi editor of Mumbai Samachar, the oldest newspaper in Asia.
When I see journalism today, I am pained. I am hurt when journalists become brokers and strike deals. I am pained when I see corporates crushing journalism. These days, I don’t watch the news. But yes, I never miss Ravish Kumar shows. I have personally told him that he is the only journalist whom I find upright and honest to the core.
Recently, I went for a check-up at Padmashri Dr Tejas Patel’s clinic, a young doctor asked me how old I was. I laughed and said I am soon going to be 81 but because I am working on the Vibes of India project, I feel I am 18 again!
I will strive to bring in good, free , and fair, independent journalism.
Please support the initiative I have begun.
#VibesofIndia is my dream project.
And thank you all for your birthday wishes. Feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
May Mother India shower her blessings on all of us.
And remember one thing: thank whoever you believe in for this wonderful day. Stay happy. Always.