With the world in a lockdown mode, many of us are learning news ways of living, re-discovering some old ways that are effective and even as we cope with an unseen attacker, we are also innovating. The following is a partial list of habits/learnings that I and many others should continue post-lockdown.
- Save, then spend, Financial literacy – We learnt this lesson the really hard way, by going bankrupt. Till the bankruptcy in 1996, Krishnan and I didn’t bother to save any money whatsoever. We earned well but just frittered away all our earnings. The bankruptcy taught us that financial freedom is only possible when you first save, then spend. Ofcourse, over the years we have also learnt to live within our means, never to take on a debt that is beyond our means and infact, we avoid debts mostly. As we matured, we also understood the value of not buying things we don’t need… a very important lesson because, just after we paid off all our debts due to the bankruptcy, we went a little overboard with buying clothes and gadgets etc because now we could afford to do so. I wish we had the insight sooner, we could have retired from a corporate career sooner. I also think, financial literacy should be part of the school curriculum because many youngsters earn well but are broke. Do read Book Review #15/50 – Who me, Poor? to know about the young urban poor. As Amazon and Flipkart and several other online market places are unable to deliver, many well to do urban folks are realising that their credit card statements are small… a clear indication that you were buying things that you probably didn’t need.
- No escape from Exercise – Sitting is the new smoking. With the knowledge economy replacing the industrial/manufacturing economy, desks have become dangerous places !! Once we sit at our desk, we keep sitting for hours on end, answering emails, taking calls, eating food and practically living our life sitting down. Obesity, hypertension, diabetes – the new trinity that are lifestyle gifts. Don’t dismiss obesity as a genetic issue or wait for the “fat” pill to be discovered that will magically turn men into Sylvester Stallone at 20 or women into Halle Berry of Die Another Day ! I don’t like exercising, but I have realised there is no escape from it. Whatever diet you get into, the results are short term if its not combined with exercise. The easiest exercise that you can do even in a prison cell is to walk. During the lockdown, keep pacing while taking a call, do chores like putting clothes to dry one by one so you get to walk from the washing machine to the clothesline, keep things in distant corners of your house (tiny or big) and walk to get them… so long as you don’t vegetate in front of a screen (computer or TV or phone or iPad), you are fine. Use this lockdown period to learn yoga or if you have already learnt it then “do” yoga. Household chores like mopping and dusting are excellent calorie burners. Do them with intensity. ANYTHING you say in defence of why you cannot exercise is an excuse, so get going and just exercise !
- Cooking is a life skill – must be part of the school curriculum. As I write this paragraph there is news that nearly 80 people have been put into quarantine because they got pizzas delivered and the delivery boy tested positive for Corona Virus. Praying that everyone comes out of the quarantine safely including the delivery boy but it brings into focus a very important issue …. people eat out a lot more than eating at home. I have several women friends and ex-colleagues who don’t know how to cook, and men somehow either become chefs or don’t learn to even make tea. (India specific – not generalising here). Growing up, I remember, going to a restaurant to eat food was a treat – once a year or very frequently meant once in six months. Dad neither had the money for it nor did he consider it a good habit. Krishnan and I swung to the other extreme once we got married and ate out every single day for the first six years of our marriage. Here’s the result – no matter what my weight is at any point in time, I owe 30% to Hotel Saravana Bhavan ! We ate ice cream, chaat, cakes etc etc etc and our weight zoomed as our bank balances dwindled. It took the bankruptcy to bring us to our senses. We still like to eat out once in a while but we mostly eat at home. I don’t like cooking – but I learnt to cook because its a life skill. Again, cooking must become a part of the school curriculum along with sewing, housekeeping and washing clothes. These are all life skills that come in handy always.
Many more learnings to come as the lockdown continues … . Remember if you are reading this, chances are you are privileged enough to not worry about your next meal. You can reduce your expenses and manage to go over this temporary hump. Earning money is only useful when you are around to enjoy it – stay home, stay safe.