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Food for thought: Life in London’s lockdown

Kiwi expat Shreya Medhekar has found comfort in feeding her community.

Six months ago, Shreya, who lives in London, was made redundant from her job as a Corporate Travel Manager.

The job search has been tough and has left her feeling "completely drained and demoralised" at times.

This week, she turned her hand to something new, cooking and delivering 10 healthy, home-cooked Indian meals, each with a personalised note or inspirational quote, within her building complex.

Shreya says during her six month job hunt, she ran out of ideas on how to pass time and keep herself motivated. Some friends had recommended she take on a new challenge while continuing with the job search, but she initially dismissed their cooking suggestion, thinking it was “too far-fetched and not something achievable”.

Despite her reservations, Shreya decided to gauge interest for her home-cooked meals, and pitched the concept to residents within her building via a Facebook group.

"Was I scared that no one would show interest and that the idea would fizzle out before it even started? 100%. Did I think this was way out of my league considering I have never cooked for anyone but family and friends before? Yes! Then I came across this quote in a book; “𝘚𝘵𝘦𝘱 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘵 𝘻𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘧𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘴. 𝘎𝘳𝘰𝘸𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘴 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘥, 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦.”

"Once I started, for the first time in a long while, I felt like my time had been put to good use, to do something productive and worthwhile. It’s given me something to look forward to each week, not to mention the new things I’m learning along the way.

Shreya says she never would have taken the plunge without encouragement from her support network.

With London now moving back into lockdown, Shreya says she is a “little terrified” about the future.

“It’s scary to think we’re back at a place where we need to be in a lockdown. We didn’t know what to expect the first time around but we had our Friday night Zoom calls with our friends who would cook/order the same cuisine and it’d be something that got us through the week. This time around, we are heading into winter, and we’ve had majority of that group move back to NZ and Australia, so the biggest unknown factor is not having them here so we can get through it together, even if virtually.”

She is motivated to keep going with her meal service, with positive feedback and repeat orders coming in after her first delivery.

“To anyone who needs to hear this during these uncertain times….”𝘋𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮 𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘦. 𝘉𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘴 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦!” And most importantly, don’t forget to celebrate the small wins!

For Kiwis back home, Shreya asks us to “please enjoy the freedom and try to wake up every day grateful for being in a country like NZ where the virus isn’t widespread.”

“Appreciate the little things like having a backyard, having the freedom to step out wherever and whenever you want, and seeing as many people as you like.”

These are things Shreya will never take for granted again.

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