‘How I Turned The (Dining) Tables On Lockdown’

Lalita Patil, a 35-year-old food entrepreneur in Thane, Maharashtra, recounts how she decided to take a step back to tide over the setback caused by Covid-19 crisis

In 2016, I used my minor savings as seed capital to start a localised tiffin service in Thane. I always wanted to be financially independent. For that reason, after my marriage, I gave private tuitions for some extra income. I even took up a private job but quit after a few years when I felt I had to start something on my own.

The tiffin service was working moderately well but I realised that working from home had its limitations and to grow, I would need to step out. If a woman operates her business from home, she is still considered a housewife and not an entrepreneur. A bigger business model had germinated in my mind but I had little capital to translate it into reality.

ALSO READ: ‘My Kids Turned Prospective Chefs In Lockdown’

And that is when I saw an ad in local newspapers about a start-up idea contest. I took part in it and my idea won the prize money – Rs 10 lakh. With the required capital to boot, I launched Gharachi Aathvan (literally,Remembering Home), a restaurant that offers home-style food in July 2019. This was a fairly big leap from the tiffin service that I had started.

Things began to look up within six months, but then Coronavirus hit Maharashtra. Our state is among the worst affected. I had to down the shutters on Gharachi Aathvan after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown on March 24 to curb the spread of Covid-19.

After staying home for a few weeks, I decided that to tide over this health, humanitarian and economic crisis, I need to take one step back. Thus, I shifted my focus, and began catering to people who were still working in essential sectors such as medical staff and chemists along with students and young professionals who lived in hostels and PG accommodations. These people were facing problems as they were either unable to cook or to source meals with restaurants closed.

ALSO READ: Misery And Hope In Covid-19 Times

However, this time the tiffin service was a tad different in a way that with every first order I provided my clients a set of utensils. For, I knew it was difficult for them to get plates and spoons this time. I packed a bowl, plates, spoons etc with the first order and informed them that they can return the set once the lockdown gets over.

It started with a few lunch parcels to medical staff I knew. But the word spread, and today close to 50-100 people are eating from my kitchen every day. My revenues have become stable again. This is how I turned the tables on the lockdown.  

ALSO READ: ‘Teaching My Daughter In Lockdown’

Gharachi Aathvan is not just a restaurant; it is my dream. I will not let my dream be shattered by any crisis. I want to be known as a business leader one day, and not a housewife. Like Bisleri is synonymous with mineral water, I want to become synonymous with home-cooked meals.

‘Teaching My Kid In Lockdown, I Rediscovered Many Subjects’

Col Vishal Ahlawat of Delhi Cantt says lockdown provided him ample time to be with family. Besides, he brushed up various subjects while teaching his eight-year-old daughter

The lockdown due to Coronavirus may be difficult in certain aspects, but in some it’s a blessing in disguise. Post-lockdown I have been able to spend a lot of time with my daughter Parnika (8), who is in Class 4. Before lockdown she used to attend tuition classes as well, but now they have been called off. We both enjoy our time together a lot, even if most of the times it is about her studies. I love seeing how confident, curious and yet open-minded my daughter is to learn new things and through newer mediums.

She has her online school classes four days a week. Most of the days her classes get over around 12.30 pm and after a break, she and I sit together to help her revise. It is actually more a revision for me and I am re-brushing my skills in various subjects.

ALSO READ: ‘My Children Turned Into Prospective Chefs’

I am mesmerised by how wonderful English grammar is. The generation that we belong to, our education system didn’t really encourage understanding a subject but rote learning. So back then we might have memorised a lot of grammar, but now I am truly beginning to see its beauty. I love it how my daughter doesn’t mind asking the smallest of questions until she understands a topic in its totality. She is teaching me rather to be able to ask questions without hesitating.

Col Ahlawat says his daughter Parnika is open to learning through new mediums.

I am also loving teaching her Maths and Life Sciences as well. When we were in school, our Maths teacher was quite old and would take a lot of time to reach the classroom from the staff room. She had given instructions to us to keep reciting the multiplication tables for as long as she took to reach the classroom.

Such memories keep coming back when my daughter talks about her school. On one hand she says she misses interacting physically with her friends, but on the other hand she loves sleeping till late now that she doesn’t have to go to school.

ALSO READ: ‘Lockdown Hasn’t Affected A Millennial’s Life’

However, it is while teaching her Life Sciences subject that I have gone a step ahead of rebrushing my skills and have learnt many new things. Sometimes I do a double take at how deeply they are being taught about topics like: How does the Universe work? And then I am like should children so young be taught such deep things at such a young age? But it is upon the schools to decide on this. I as a grown up am enjoying reading my daughter’s Life Sciences book for right now.

During the first few days of my daughter’s online classes, even the teachers took some time to get adjusted to technology for everyday use at such a large scale. As a parent I also got to upgrade my technological skills. There are pros and cons of both classroom as well as online learning, but for right now I am enjoying the wonderful time I am getting to spend with my daughter. We laugh a lot together and learning seems to be such a fun experience. It’s like I have gone back to school again, I feel such a sense of freshness.

Learning In Lockdown

‘Lockdown Has Turned My Children Into Prospective Chefs’

Anjali G Sharma, a South Delhi-based social activist, is happy that her young children have taken to cooking with much enthusiasm and even share recipes with their cousins

Coronavirus has brought about multiple changes in our lives, but one change that makes me really happy is how easily my children have taken to learning basic cooking skills. It all started when the maid stopped coming to work due to lockdown.

My children, Anisha (10) and Aryan (6), saw me spending longer hours in the kitchen for long time and they wanted to help. What started as helping, soon turned into inquisitiveness and curiosity, something I was too happy to attend to. Between my work and my children’s online classes, a lot of time would be spent discussing food. I slowly started teaching them flameless cooking and then moved on to preparing sandwiches, about ingredients and portioning.

Let me share a cute-yet-hilarious story with you. One of these days I thought of making samosas for the kids. It turned out to be super tasty and my six-year-old son shared this fact with his five-year-old cousin over the phone. The cousin then asked for the samosa’s recipe and duly noted down. Next, he showed it to his mother and asked for the same fare. The young cousin was moved enough to write a thank-you note to my son, which we have saved with us.

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Can you imagine five- and six-year old discussing food over the phone! I am glad that this has happened, for everyone should know basic cooking skills. The coronavirus induced lockdown has proved to be easier for people who were equipped with basic cooking skills.

My daughter has literally turned a ‘pro’ at baking. She can now do end-to-end baking on her own after nearly two months of lockdown and I only help her when it comes to putting the baked item in the cooker. She is one proud, smart and meticulous baker.

The children now also watch quite a lot of food videos. And sometimes they are open-eyed with wonder as to just how many amazing things can be prepared in the kitchen. I think more than teaching kids cooking, it’s about igniting the fire of enthusiasm inside them and letting them know that as parents we trust them with important tasks.

ALSO READ: ‘Iftar Without Friends Is Dull, But Safety Comes First’

One thing I admire about my kids is that don’t waste a single item even while learning. Even before the lockdown, we as a family took care to not waste anything on the plate, plus recycle anything that we can. But post-lockdown they understand that grocery items aren’t as easy to come by. Plus, they like letting their imagination run free about the various food combinations that can be had and aren’t as choosy about they eat anymore.

During my children’s online classes, their teachers keep sending them videos related to one subject or another. So one day my son received a video wherein there was an ad for Rajma Burger. And guess what the young man wants to make now? Yes, Rajma Burger!

Before lockdown, I wasn’t much into cooking. But I must admit now that I have begun to enjoy it and find it relaxing and therapeutic. There is a sense of pride and delight running through our house these days because we have all begun to enjoy one common activity and thus get a lot of time to bond with each other.