COVID-19 has taken the world by storm. Never before has an invisible enemy created such a global catastrophe in recent history. Countries are going into lockdown and the daily rut of pre-coronavirus days seems like privilege. But on the flip side, whether we are social distancing, in self-isolation or under quarantine, those of us who stay in a safe environment have an opportunity to introspect and work on creating healthier routines.
The silver lining of this crisis is the large number of institutions and individuals who have gone on a knowledge-sharing spree. We are especially grateful to everyone who has gone out of their way to make this dystopian present more meaningful.
Here’s a list of some free resources to keep you occupied and to help you get through these hard times.
Wordnomics: Books and Writing
- Writing during lockdown: If you have tried writing 50,000 words for the NaNoWriMo, you may want to use this lockdown to pen down a chapter, a short story or the outline of a novel. Try to achieve a daily word count with #StayathomeWrimo. It isn’t easy and you don’t have to beat yourself up if you don’t get the required word count but even a paragraph can stand you in good stead.
- Read at Home Initiatives: Although books are now considered non-essential commodities, there is a huge supply of books and stories online:
- Fatima Bhutto and Sanam Meher are presenting short reads by writers in different genres.
- Roli Books has also organized live conversations with well-known authors.
- For children, the #ThodaReadingCorona project driven by Bijal Vachharajani encourages children to listen to stories. You can catch authors reading their stories on the facebook group Reading Raccoons.
- Many publishers are sharing great reads.
- Juggernaut – This publishing house is offering books on their mobile app platform for free. You can spend your lockdown leisure diving into historical fiction like Rebel Sultans by Manu S. Pillai and romantic comedy like Combat Skirts by Sahana Ahmed at the tap of a finger. Read quick!
- Audible – The audiobook store is also sharing plenty of free book content And if self-isolation isn’t perfect time to listen to classics and children’s fiction, what is?
- Digital subscription to Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle – If you are a fan of Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle or you want your children to read what you loved as a child growing up in India, this is the option for you. Subscription lasts for a month from signing up and you can read the comics on your mobile!
Virtual Wisdom and Documentaries
Many libraries and presses are providing free content access during these trying times.
- JSTOR –This digital library features the best of peer-reviewed scholarly journals and research reports, and has announced that all their open access content is now available without having to login. Catch up on your academic reading while in lockdown.
- Oxford University Press – The biggest university press is providing free access to its educational resources to students and teachers, to aid efforts at creating a home learning environment for kids while schools are closed.
- Scholastic – One of the world’s largest publishers and distributors of children’s books has also launched a website towards this end.
- The Internet Archive- This library has even courted controversy by suspending waitlists for 1.4 million+ titles to create a National Emergency Library for the benefit of displaced readers and of those in quarantine.
- Library of Congress: The largest library in the world has select works on offer.
- Project Muse– Publishers who wish to make their works available at this time are able to do so here.
- The KKV Repository – You can also browse through Supreme Court lawyer K. K. Venugopal’s personal library archive.
The Google Arts and Culture site is mind boggling. There are scores of museums, artworks and street scenes that are on view. If you feel too cooped up in the house, hop into the Uffizi Gallery and browse through Renaissance paintings or visit the Museum of Modern Art and examine the passionate brushstrokes of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.
Chat apps are a great way of being with friends or colleagues even in this time of isolation.
- Bunch: A group video chat app for live mobile games.
- House Party– A video chat app that enables you talk to up to eight friends in real time.
- Zoom– An app that is now being used all over the world to conduct office meetings for those working from home, as well classes and workshops on various subjects.
- Netflix Party – This simple Chrome extension allows you to watch Netflix episodes and movies at the same time as your friends, and the chat function lets you comment and react to what you’re watching in real time. Who said isolation had to be so… isolated?
For those of you who are tired of seeing only your pets, you may want to explore some nature documentaries of peaceful places here in India. Check out these youtube channels for more:
- Bhadra Tiger Reserve
- Zoos of Karnataka
- The Story of Aghanashini river
- The Story of the Kali river
- An Indian Sloth Bear Story
Let us know how you are getting through quarantine. Stay home and stay safe!