How to run a flat — my lockdown diary
This is an introspection article, different than the usual stories that I give you, but I thought I’d write it down now — either as a lesson or an embarrassment to my future self when I read it later.
Let’s turn back our clocks to our favorite year: March 2020. That’s when the Indian government had announced a 21-day lockdown, and since we thought that it would just be 21 days - it shouldn’t be a problem.
While we had stayed in a flat for several years now, we had several problems that we didn’t know we had, because all we did was throw money at them, and never bothered about them at all. Until today — when we had to do everything on our own.
Basically, before the lockdown, we had hired a maid who did all the cooking, a friend who was very picky about what he likes to eat, so, he used to buy all our groceries, and we used to pay our share to him. This is how things were running until the lockdown happened and we couldn’t throw money at our problems because the maid could not come to work anymore.
Once, the restrictions got a bit loose, my friends who were with me during the initial moments of the lockdown had to leave because their parents had called them back, and around the same time, I got my brother to my flat, thankfully, all he had to do was to get a PCR test and then he smoothly landed in Pune and thankfully there was no drama while picking him up and taking him in.
Both of us never had cooked seriously in our life before, we did it sometimes. The first few days we survived by ordering food from outside but it was getting obvious that ordering from outside every day wasn’t feasible at all. We had to figure out how to get done.
I cannot thank YouTube enough for teaching us cooking. Yes, the first 5 dishes we made were extremely bad, but then we started to get a hang of it. We knew what raw supplies we had to order and we also knew how to get them made correctly.
Once, this was figured out, I had a night, where I was introspecting about my day, thinking how it went, and then I remember something from a long time ago.
I suddenly recalled this diagram, which I had learned about while learning about emotional intelligence, and that got me thinking. Do I have what I need here?
So, this is what the diagram means, a person can only be happy if they are at the top of the pyramid, but to reach the top of the pyramid, one must have completed the layer below it.
Oversimplified, start from the bottom and reach to the top, and this is where it began. This is when we started to build things.
Both of us brothers are engineers, with strong engineering background families, we have built a lot of things, whose stories should be coming out soon, 🤭 but we have never managed anything of sorts, so this was going to be a challenge after all.
So, come along with us, and let’s start from the bottom and figure things out.
Here is the rule: To be happy, we have to start from the bottom, and we can choose to complete any of the needs in that layer in any sequence, but, we cannot skip it. i.e., all needs at the layer must be satisfied regardless of order before moving on to the next one. So, we’ll start with the easiest need, and solve the complicated ones later.
- Warmth: India is already a hot place, so we didn’t need this we needed the opposite of this: cooling. We had the fans in our rooms, and they were working fine. We are both capable to swap out the capacitors if needed but it requires maintenance, and when we did the flat cleaning, the fan will get cleaned monthly.
- Water: The flat already came with enough water supply, so throwing money at this problem usually solves it, but I have a whole article about filtering water using gravity, also coming soon.
- Food: Now, this was challenging, brother had college and I had an office that I needed to attend to. We could only spare the minimum time required to get this done. So what do we do? We turned to the one thing that creates comfort zones: routines, which I’ll explain in the other section.
- Rest: If all the above goes great, then you can rest as long as you wanted. So, this is also sorted.
Layer 1 is complete! Let’s build Layer 2, and we’ll talk about routines after that.
- Safety: We had a first aid kit in the house if we needed and a hospital was 2 mins walk from the flat. Thankfully, I had the foresight of checking the hospitals before I chose the flat, so, that saved on a lot of effort.
- Security: We lived in a gated society, it was very unlikely that unauthorized people could enter, much less in a lockdown.
We had solved these before by throwing money at the problem, but what I want to conclude here is that, either you throw your time or your money at it. Our ancestors threw time to solve it, they worked hard to farm or gather food, on the other hand, thanks to the modern society we have the choice to throw money.
And, there we go! Throwing money at your problem solves Layer 1 & 2 problem. To the people who say that money isn’t important…, that’s a completely false statement, unless you can satisfy these 2 layers without them.
We will explore the other layers and how to achieve them in the next article about emotions, but the next section is about my take on routines.
Like mentioned earlier, these problems did not exist for us before the lockdown, as we used to pay our way out of it, but now it’s time to be independent. Learn to survive on our own.
The hardest problem that you will face is going to be food and water. We live in our modern societies now, where water is available freely, and we can order fully prepared meals. However, it is not sustainable or healthy.
After figuring out cooking, the first thing that we did, made a routine — what are we going to eat this week, how many times are we going to eat today, and who is available to do the cooking.
These 3 questions had to be answered. So, we cook every day, except for Friday, our “cheat” day. While for the rest of the week, we had a routine of what we were going to eat and ensuring that we had all the supplies to make it happen without causing delays, like buying rations whenever before we need it and keeping it in cold storage, or ensuring that we have a spare gas cylinder to use whenever we needed one.
These were not easy to do, we made several mistakes along the way, and had to have some extra cheat days that we did not intend to have. The most important conclusion was that we kept things running like clockwork, there was hardly any flaw in the system, and whenever there was, it was only a quick fix away.
People say that they prefer to change, and crave adventure, and being a little bit of a left-leaning person myself, I can understand the need for change. However, in my opinion, everyone will get tired of that kind of life, will try to seek out stability in some form or other. I guess that this was the stability I needed at that point in my life so that I could progress/worry about other things.
I still feel to this date as if, had I not had those routines in place, I could not have a better life myself.
So, I’d like to conclude, that routines aren’t a bad thing. You should keep changing them until you are satisfied, and modify them when things aren’t right, and definitely, never enforce your routine onto others, as that will never work, as others will not have the same circumstances as you.
So, what do you think? Am I right in creating a comfort zone in one of my most unfavorable moments? Should I have lived every day without knowing what’s going to be next? Playing it by the ear? I think not…, but let me know what you think. 🙂