Living History – Ankita Khanna’s Chapter, Sector 49, Gurgaon
Life during Corona.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
The coronavirus is forcing us to live through an unprecedented global crisis never before seen in generations. In an attempt to prepare the first draft of the pandemic’s social history, The Delhi Walla is putting a set of questions about ‘daily life these times’ to people from diverse backgrounds.
Today, it’s Ankita Khanna. In her mid-30s, the Gurgaon-based psychologist lives with her partner, Kavita, in an 8th floor apartment in Sector 49 in the Greater Delhi Region. Ms Khanna grew up in the twin towns of Mussoorie and Dehradun in the Himalayan foothills. So, obviously, she has met the region’s most famous writer, Ruskin Bond, a lot many times including during his weekly audience in Mussoorie’s landmark Cambridge bookstore. Ms Khanna chuckles while confirming the fact. Indeed, she is right now speaking on WhatsApp video from her parents’ home in Dehradun where she drove just a week ago “to visit Mummy Papa for the first time after the lockdown began and to enjoy the Dehradun monsoon.”
However, Ms Khanna responds to the questions strictly with reference to her apartment (and daily life) in Gurgaon. The photos were taken with the help of her father, Deepak, holding the phone. One of the pics has Ms Khanna playing card game Paplu with her mother, Sunita. Of course, the psychologist continues to work—by conducting therapy sessions with clients on zoom.
5 outdoorsy things you’ll do after the pandemic is over.
1. Lie on grass under an open sky. Touch the earth beneath my hands and feet, and take in the whiff of the universe above.
2. Give tight hugs and squeezes to some of my favourite people. My closest friends and ‘imperfect allies’ who’ve kept me sane through this time—Jonaki, Lavina, Priyanka, Surru, Tavi—and my Kanan didi as soon as she comes back from her village. Didi has been working and taking care of our home for the last five years.
3. Take public transport. Hide behind the sights, sounds and smells of what-used-to-feel-like liberating anonymity. Give in to the swarm of humanity that takes you on and off a crowded metro train without even moving.
4. Go to my favourite Dastkar crafts bazaar—touch and feel things with my hands, and listen to the stories of the craftspeople.
5. Be genuinely interested in the lives and invisible battles being fought daily by those I meet- Uber and auto drivers, the guards in my building, courier wallas. Ask them how business is going for them, how their loved ones are, and what brings them joy.
The view outside your window at the moment.
My window overlooks a small balcony where we keep some potted plants. One of the big pots has housed a pigeon family for several years now. As I take a break from the screen and look out to catch a breath, I often find myself weaving stories about the days of their lives—their wonderment at the clearer air and sky, their sharing of the day’s spoils, and most interestingly their commentary on human absurdity.
What’s going on in your mind right now?
When will this end? Will this ever end? What if behind masks and in a constant state of vigilance and fear is how we’re doomed to live forever? What if we brought ourselves here? What shall we have for dinner?
Objects in your house that give you solace during self isolation.
My watercolours and sketchbook. The comfort of knitting. Books from my childhood that I have found myself going back to recently—-Heidi, Little Women, Great Expectations. The 5 pm cup of tea made in the same way and had in the same cup everyday, with a side of homemade cake.
Her slice of the pandemic
1a. (Pic by Ankita Khanna-“My work desk by the window”)
2. (Pic by Ankita Khanna-“Chai and cake”)
3. (Pic by Ankita Khanna-“Pigeons at my window”)
4. (Pic by Ankita Khanna-“My watercolours and sketchbook”)
5. (Pic by Ankita Khanna-“A bathroom wall we started painting during the lockdown”)