These past couple of weeks have been one of the strangest times I’ve ever known, and like everyone else, my life has changed in so many ways. In some ways good, some bad and some just purely disconcerting. Although the main focus of this blog post is not food, I have still included a fair few pictures of things I've cooked during lockdown (e.g. the picture of one of my takeaways below) as I'm hoping these delicious dishes can bring a little joy into peoples lives! I first heard about this terrible infliction whilst on holiday in Malaysia over Christmas when rumours began of the spread of a virus originating from China which was extremely contagious and potentially lethal. I vividly recall my dad casually saying one evening as we sat having a few drinks with the sun shining, that it started with a minor sore throat and the advice was to drink lots of water. I pondered for a second and then shamefully brushed it aside naively thinking that it wouldn’t affect my life as I continued to sip my gin and merrily carried on. Never in my wildest dreams did I realise how it would travel with such ferocity and cause a pandemic of such epic proportions.
Roll on 3 months and what I originally regarded as a growing concern in the Far East was now at my doorstep. The effects were slight at the beginning, with the mad scramble for loo roll (what a joke!) and then in a blink the simple task of shopping at the supermarket became a challenge as rows and rows of shelves were bare or sparsely dotted with tins, and packets carelessly thrown as if attacked by locusts! I really couldn’t believe my eyes as I stood looking at the dry goods aisle and saw nothing but emptiness staring back at me. The sad reality of this type of situation is that human selfishness becomes all too apparent. It separates those of us who care for our fellow man and those who make themselves their priority. This terrible act of manic bulk buying caused the unnecessary shortage of goods, leaving the vulnerable in a dire situation.
Even though these tough times have shown how selfish some people can be, on the flip side it has also shown some good in the world. People around the world are making a conscious effort to reach out to the vulnerable and elderly to offer their help in any way, and in the UK the NHS has had a surge of volunteers signing up to help deliver medication, take people home from the hospital and chat to those who may be lonely during isolation over the phone (link included at the end of the post). It is at times like this when we need to try and focus on the good, as difficult as it may be.
I must admit that even at this point I still didn’t appreciate the scale of the problem until the hospitality industry took a major hit. As I watched the news day by day with images of empty restaurants, cafes, pubs, and eateries, my thoughts turned to my business and the uncertainty that I was now facing. If larger establishments were in crisis, someone like me would have no hope. To make matters worse, work with the manufacturer to upscale my jar production had commenced and now it was hanging in the balance. Of course my first reaction always is to burst into tears! Not because I felt sorry for myself but the concern of paying the mortgage, bills and feeding the family was overwhelming. Without a doubt I was not the only one plagued with this worry as globally people were facing uncertainty and the echo of my sentiment was everywhere.
So after a few days of moping I put an end to the pity party and started to formulate a plan and quickly adopted the ‘there are no problems only solutions’ mantra. Supper Clubs, Cookery Classes, Takeaways and any other service that involved close contact would have to be suspended. However, I could still continue with deliveries as long as I strictly observed the social distancing rules and as for my jars they could always be posted anywhere in the country. And there you have it, a challenge that I had to tackle head on. First step was to get the word out and I made a post on Facebook and Instagram. The next challenge would be sourcing ingredients when and if I did get any interest! Thank goodness for the local butcher and greengrocer which was a godsend. I did specify in my post that some far out ingredients might pose a problem but the usual suspects should be alright.
Business started slow but is now gaining some momentum which is encouraging. My first doorstep delivery was on Mothers day and this week I’m even cooking for an isolation birthday, and several jars have made their way around the country. Finance aside, another thing that concerned me was losing the joy of being in my kitchen, creating, and feeding which is what I do and what I’m all about. Yes, making meals for the family included all the above and they’ve had some amazing food during this lock down, but my mission to indulge everyone with Malaysian cuisine still exists.
Unfortunately, some have no other way of earning a living as jobs are lost daily and more so for the self-employed who can only sit back and watch their hard work and livelihood slip through their fingers. They too have bills, a mortgage, a family and a life.
The funny thing is that amidst all this chaos, there have been reports of dolphins coming closer to the shore, the seas and rivers running clear, as if the whole environment is healing after years of abuse. It’s also a bonus that families are spending time together and enjoying precious moments that were perhaps lacking in the merry go round and humdrum of ordinary life. My family sat down and played a board game for the first time in years the other night, and the feeling of nostalgia from when my kids were young overwhelmed me. Admittedly it’s not all sunshine and roses as predictions of domestic violence increasingly rears its ugly head, and children who are currently at risk facing harrowing times ahead. Not forgetting the NHS and frontline workers working tirelessly in this battle some of which with insufficient protective clothing posing a danger to their health and their loved ones.
As the death toll increases, and hospitals move nearer to reaching capacity, this bleak period I fear is far from over. I pray to god for protection and an end to the tears, pain, and suffering.
Until my next blog, I urge you all to keep safe, and do what you can to help and vulnerable people you know.
https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS - Link to find out more info about volunteering for the NHS!
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