NEW DELHI: For 24-year-old aspiring chef Uttam Kaur, the lockdown and forced time at home has come with a major upside. She finally had the time to focus on her passion, and make her delectable and easy-to-follow recipes available to a wider public.

“I wanted to do this, for the past six years but always failed as I stayed alone in Chandigarh and never had the resources. This is the first time that I’ve been at home for more than a month. My mother motivated me a lot since it was her dream too, and I guess she made me utilise this time in the most productive way I could” said Kaur.

Kaur has finally taken the plunge and started a food page on Instagram with the handle @cravingsbyuttam, where she posts recipes every day.

“If it wasn’t for the lockdown, I don’t think I would’ve been able to accomplish my dream. Everyday, my mother enthusiastically teaches different recipes, which makes me fall in love with this time more and more,” she said.

Uttam Kaur’s favourite recipes

And even as the lockdown has come with a host of economic, social and emotional hardship - there are many young people like Kaur who have tried to grasp at silver linings, and use the time in a productive way.

Aman Mishra, 20-year-old theatre artist almost gave up on his dreams after the imposition of the first lockdown. The lockdown came with anxiety about his plans for the future, and how to achieve them.

“I had lots of plans for my third year. But, when the lockdown was extended, I knew I had to utilise this time, despite unavailability of actors and equipment. I knew I had the talent, passion and creativity to do what I wanted. So, I decided I will work with what I have as the audience would also be able to relate more,” Mishra explains.

He created and uploaded two documentaries on his channel Frypan Films staying within the confines of his home, and using creative visualisation, animation, voice overs of his friends in order to come up with the unique films. He’s currently working on the script for his next film.

Sophie Schreyer, originally from Germany but working as a waitress at a Michelin Star restaurant in Scotland, says the rise in cases across Europe along with the mandate to stay home consumed her with anxiety.

“There were days when I couldn’t even step out of my house and was left figuring out what to do the entire day,” she said.

Schreyer’s grandmother, who passed away last year, used to do embroidery. Although she was fascinated, she was never able to acquire the skill.

“It was the time when I instantly knew how I going to spend my lockdown. I ordered everything and started. Now when I look back at my 30 hoops, I feel a connection, maybe with my grandmother.” Sophie added.

Sophie’s lockdown hoops creativity

Samy’s sea glass pendants

“My job is very stressful and I don’t really spend time within the city. It was only after the lockdown when, I was able to visit the beach and discover sea glasses. It helped me a lot to live during those situations and of course, to get creative as well. I’d never thought, I’d be able to come up with something this pretty. I have decided that even when we’ll get back to normal, I will continue to do this craft,” says Samantha Seitz, a full-time tour operator who moved to Scotland three years ago.

19 year old Tanya Rawat always wanted to try her hand out at traditional painting, but due to lack of time during college days she couldn’t even think about it.

“At first, I thought it was boring but then I realised that this is the time I have, where I can try to excel in something new, something I always wanted to. I learnt character design and also ended up spending hours with oil paints.”

Rawat gained a lot of interest in oil painting and produced some great work in lockdown.

Tanya Rawats’s lockdown oil painting tradition art

Dwitzy, a 24-year-old digital artist from Indonesia, spent the initial part of lockdown in worry.

“When the lockdown began in Indonesia, I started to worry about my work. My concern did not end until I thought of utilising it. Thereafter, I began to sort ideas in my mind and made sure that I will accomplish my pending list of dreams.” Dwitzy said.

Dwitzy is a culinary illustrator and has spent most of his time on food illustrated projects that he wished to do for a very long time.

After working for 8 years in the corporate world, Shampaa Bhushan, who lives in Lucknow, finally took the plunge to explore her love for art and design. An ardent admirer of sketches, paintings and art, Bhushan is also an animal lover.

“Well I have been doing this for the past four years and lockdown when I had the time to think about how I should spread the idea of Indian art and make it available to home decoration in a new way. So I just added a few ideas and came up with the thought to use a plate as a canvas and start with the Pichwai Art form,” explained Bhushan.

During the lockdown, she created works of art depicting animals, weaved in with the theme of compassion.

“I am a feeder and caretaker of community animals, so I decided that I should bring attention towards creating compassion and warmth towards animals. I have been sterilizing and rescuing animals since I was a kid so I continued that still. Through my art I would like to bring attention to the animals and to learn to co-exist,” she added.

Shampaa’s plate canvas art

Sanya Namdhari is an undergraduate student at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, New Delhi.

Cover Photo Credit: Amelia Giller