This Is My Normal: Reshma Gajjar, Los Angeles
Dancer, actor and filmmaker Reshma Gajjar is quarantined with her husband, Miles and her mother, Renuka in Los Angeles, where some of the stricter restrictions have been lifted and people are beginning to step out for work. She spends her days having late breakfasts, working on scripts with her husband, going for walks with her mum, cooking family dinners and practising mindfulness in her studio.
8:00 am – 9:00 am: First alarm goes off at 8 am to start my process of waking up. This is followed by two more. I’ve always wished to be a morning person, but I love my bed too much. I’ve actually slept through alarms for college exams and earthquakes even! As a professional dancer, I like to give my body rest for as long as possible unless I have an early call time, rehearsal or audition. Since the quarantine, I’ve made it a habit to be out of bed by 9 am. This is officially me in training. Small potatoes for some, but to me, its miraculous.
9:30 am – 11:30 am: After a shower, I go straight to the studio in our backyard to begin my morning routine. Having a separate studio has been such a gift for when I need silence. I spend a couple hours doing my sadhna which includes pranayama, meditation and yoga. A silver lining to sudden unemployment is that there are no excuses for the things I value to not take priority any longer.
11:30 am – 12:00 pm: The last part of my ritual is what I call ‘morning moves’ where I put on some music and play with movement. A practice of nurturing my artistic self. I want to discover my own voice in movement, which is exciting because I’m increasingly feeling like teaching is my calling. I’m currently obsessed with music by French singer-songwriter Christine and the Queens.
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm: My first meal is a late breakfast which consists of a handful of nuts my mom soaked the night before, spiced ginger oat milk, and porridge. There’s more time to write these days, which I find necessary for my sanity. It’s where I process feelings, experiences and revelations, of which I have many, especially during this time of Covid-19. Writing, like dance, has been a good friend to me, always listening, remembering and reflecting back. I’ve been journaling for as long as I can remember.
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm: While eating lunch, Miles and I work on our film, In Our Wake. During quarantine, we’ve finished our third draft of the script, and printed hard copies yesterday. Today, we are organizing a cast for our first table read over Zoom. I’m excited and nervous to hear it aloud for the first time. Being together has allowed us to really focus on this project.
3:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Even though my career as a performer has been put on hold, there are some projects that have continued to stay alive through Zoom. This time of day is usually when I am running lines and rehearsing scenes. Otherwise, I’m answering mail, reading, or spending time with my mother. Mom is very crafty and resourceful; I love fashion, so together, we undertake sewing projects and bring clothes back to life.
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm: It’s important to me that my mom step out of the house and get some exercise. Every Sunday we go for a ‘passeggiata’ — Italian for evening stroll. We mask-up and drive to different neighbourhoods in LA. We walk until it gets dark or we get hungry. I could continue these passeggiata forever… I never get tired. If we bump into friends, we do our best to keep 6 ft apart. Some days, Miles and I will go on a hike or a bike ride to get more of a workout.
A few weeks ago we drove up to Antelope Valley to catch the California Poppy Super Bloom. I’m a California girl through and through and this whole activity was like a breath of fresh air.
7:30 pm – 9:00 pm: We’re all vegetarians and take turns making dinner. Dinner is the one meal that we all eat together. It’s when we talk about our day, decompress, plan, share and enjoy each other’s company. I love it when my mom loses herself while narrating stories.
We haven’t been to a grocery store in two months. We order farm veggie boxes. With each delivery, we are getting faster at cleaning everything and setting it out to dry. It’s been nice to find more ways to be in harmony with nature and eating food that’s in season.
We were inspired to start composting and have built our very own garden. Here are some tomatoes starting to sprout!
Miles and I are both learning to play new instruments right now; him the guitar, me the piano. I haven’t been as consistent about practicing, so its been challenging, but some nights we learn an easy song together, which feels incredible. I find that I sound better when I make faces. At the end of the evening, before we all turn in, the three of us sit in silence and do what I’ve been calling ‘night beats’ — a short meditation to the beat of our heart. It’s our offering and prayer to the world and the communities around us.
Then it’s time to sleep again.