We have become hairdressers, master-chefs, engineers, gardeners and more while being cooped up in our homes these past two months. There were only so many TV shows, Youtube videos you could watch, books to read or board games to play while indoors, so many, we found, decided to venture into new fields. Now as we [...]


Unlocking new talents during lockdown


We have become hairdressers, master-chefs, engineers, gardeners and more while being cooped up in our homes these past two months. There were only so many TV shows, Youtube videos you could watch, books to read or board games to play while indoors, so many, we found, decided to venture into new fields.

Now as we gradually resume our work life, the Sunday Times asked people how they had kept themselves occupied under lock

down. These were a few things people benefitted from learning and doing during long lazy days.

There is nothing more joyful for mothers, aunts and grandmothers than sharing their favourite recipes and many of us seized the chance to experiment with new flavours to give the dishes a twist. From maalu paan to banoffee pie, home kitchens have been a tempting aroma of scents, spices and herbs these past two months.

Missing food that they would usually order from restaurants led to many trying their hand at making Turkish pizza, roast paan and tacos. Many youngsters have now perfected the art of boiling an egg while the more ambitious attempted making one-pot biryani under a parent’s watchful eye.

However one major drawback to becoming an in-house Michelin star chef was the lack of ingredients. Some took this in their stride like Richard Rulach who shared his coping secret – a website called ‘myfridgefood.com’ which shows you how to make dishes with the ingredients you have on hand.

“I usually eat a kottu mee, however myfridgefood.com showed me a way to add eggs into the noodles. All I had to do was poach the egg while the noodles were being boiled. It may not seem like a huge deal but it was a big accomplishment for me,” he tells us.

Others got creative by substituting missing ingredients such as cocoa powder with Milo powder, yoghurt for baking powder and coffee for vanilla essence. Then there were those who began growing the ingredients they couldn’t find in their backyards.

There’s lemongrass, thibbatu, mint leaves, chillies and mukunuwenna sprouting as many discovered a green thumb they didn’t know they had, much to their delight.

Neighbours Shano Bohoran and Farah Majid share with us their backyard farms which they say have helped with sourcing a few vegetables for their families. Sewwandi Rajapaksha, meanwhile decided to also try making her own compost by using food waste and leftovers. “I was just scrolling through Pinterest and thought I could give it a shot since I had time on my hands,” she says adding that it is still a work in progress.

Creative juices flowed for others. “All the world’s a stage,” Shakespeare famously said and the curfew showed it also included our homes.

Suresh de Silva, best known as the frontman and lyricist of rock band Stigmata, an author, actor and podcaster has been using his vocational skills and talents as a voice artist to bring to life a few of his favourite speeches from plays, films and poetry (his and others) on his YouTube channel @Suresh de Silva.

“I took a crack at a Shakespeare solo with a small extract of Mark Antony’s legendary funeral speech from Julius Caesar. Suffice to say the reactions I received were overwhelmingly positive and I was asked to tackle the full speech from Act III, Scene II and I did. Thereafter I recited a poem of mine called ‘Unshed’ and tackled Walt Whitman’s classic poem ‘O Captain My Captain’.” Suresh’s idea was to share some of the pieces that have inspired him through life.

Reciting, narrating and recording at home on his mobile, he had the help of Darren Lowe who added instrumentation and background effects, while bandmate Thisara Dhananjaya finalized the voice clips and converted them to the relevant formats. Suresh’s friend Madhri Samaranayake chipped in by creating the artwork for the ‘Mark Antony’ video.

Much appreciation has come his way from school principals, teachers and academics, thespians and even students who have complimented him on adding some excitement and fun to education.

Omar Hussain Ibrahim proudly shares that he has learned to do basic stop motion animation videos. “Stop motion was a thing I always wanted to try since I was small and growing up watching too many cartoons. It took a few tries to get the hang of it, after an hour or two, I finally was able to create an entire video of 30 seconds that consists of almost 500 pictures,” he says.

His first attempt was with scrabble blocks since he couldn’t find clay or action figures, and he adds that all in all, the outcome was very satisfying.

For Yusuf Sheriff, curfew days proved a golden opportunity to start writing. “Writing has always been on the top of my ‘to-do list’ so I thought I’d try my hand at it.” He produced a poem and a monologue, “With ample free time, I wanted to do something to improve myself, to come out of this with some new skill.”

His poem “Covid-19, A Virus Testing Humanity”  written during the early stages of the lockdown, looks at how our lives were suddenly overturned into something straight out of the movies. Then he wrote a Sinhalese monologue titled ‘Another day in the corona diary’ fldrkaghska vhßfha ;j;a tla ojil¡ Mind you, he had not written a word in Sinhala since his O’Ls a few years back.

Shaafo Sourjah shares how he was inspired to release his first single ‘Yours’ during the lockdown. “I had been looking for an opportunity to properly start on my own solo music this year and the quarantine gave me a lot of time to focus without the distractions of usual daily life,” he says.

So while lockdown days may have seemed long and endless, for many they also provided a chance to explore new interests and develop new skills.

Virtual learning
Every day is a new learning opportunity. A lot of virtual programmes popped up during the curfew period which people happily took advantage of.
Imantha Jayasuriya has been using LinkedIn’s learning courses which he finds very insightful and recommends as very beneficial.
“I joined Toastmasters knowing that it would help me become a better public speaker,” Muhammed Awoon tells us as he explains how he has always wanted to join a Toastmasters Club but finding the time to attend meetings proved a challenge. He enjoys the fact that he can join the fun and learn something from the comfort of home.
Afrah Saldin Ismail tells us that through the website skillshare.com she was able to listen to informative lectures pertaining to her field of interior design.


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