Down and Out with Ms Perumalmalai

Bold and wise, Ms. Perumalmalai is a millennial agony aunt: a journalist giving advice on personal problems. In this regular feature in The Kodai Chronicle, she takes on your issues with family, neighbours and more.


Dear Ms PP, a philosophical question to start you off:  What do I do with all the time I lost this year? Where has 2021 gone?

Hi If I Could Turn Back Time,

Wow, this hits close to home for me (and I suspect for many of our readers too).

Well, the pandemic has now shaped more than a year and a half of our lives. Everyone’s had to adjust to a new phase of living with the virus. We’ve all been trying to re-establish the rhythms of our personal and professional lives. All while constantly adapting to ‘new normals’ that were/are being continually redefined. A lot has happened, but it also feels like one big blur, I know. 

However, thinking exclusively in those terms risks obscuring everything that you have accomplished this year – namely, getting yourself through the year. You might think that you’ve lost a lot of time, but trust me, you’ve actually done quite a lot this year―even if it can’t be measured by billable hours, international trips, or check marks on a pages-long to-do list. You have worth outside of your output.

All that time and energy spent washing your groceries in turmeric water, home-schooling the kids, caring for sick family members, or doing absolutely nothing and just sitting around is valid. It counts. Don’t downplay this! 

So, take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back. No matter how this year has turned out for you, if you’ve made it to the 2021 finish line in one slightly battered piece, well done. You’ve done brilliantly.

And as for all those things that you wanted to do last year but couldn’t – that’s what a new year is for! Start a business. Move to someplace new. Learn to grow strawberries (I did!). Take a trip to Tahiti (but check the quarantine rules first).  You can do it, friend.


Dear PP, How do you manage to work out in this weather? #rainydays

Hi Fitness Goals,

I’m not.

Take care,

Ms P.

Okay, okay, I’m just joking―sort of. 

Let me preface this by saying that working out has never been my strong suit; I have an exercise bike (purchased during the pandemic) parked near the window laden with my laundry as I write this, and my cat loves to use my yoga mat as a scratching pad. Clearly, I could do with the exact advice you’re asking me for. 

I (like you, I assume) prefer walks as workouts as there’s no shortage of trails to explore in Kodai. So now that it’s terrible outdoors, we’ll both have to resort to exercising indoors which although not as exciting will be as or more effective, I’m told. But the great affair as has been said is to move…around indoors. 

To this end, how about setting a schedule for yourself? Plan some form of exercise―whether aerobics, yoga, lifting weights or simple stretches―before or after work. I guarantee you will hate it  (and me for suggesting this) at first but if you keep it up, it’ll just become part of your routine; you might even find yourself looking forward to it. And start small―15 curl-ups today are better than none at all.

Something that could help you stay the course is joining an online class which is sure to be full of people just like me and you. Having a supportive community to whom you can complain endlessly about having to exercise can be wonderfully therapeutic (cough cough). And of course, they’re sure to keep you motivated and supported.

If you hate being around people, then I suggest finding a new energetic playlist on Spotify, Apple Music or Youtube to keep you company. Works just as great, I hear. 

Good luck (to you and me both)!


Dear PP, What are you doing for New Year’s Eve? Signed, #babyitscoldoutside

Hi Sweater Weather, 

I’m just going to say it: I do not like cold weather. 

Yes, I realise that it’s almost always cold in Kodai. Yes, I realise that cold weather = Christmas weather. I’ve listened to Engelbert Humperdinck croon blithely about the wonders of ‘Jack Frost nipping on your nose’ and everyone ‘folks dressed up like Eskimos’ every December of my life, thank you. But I do not like it.

So this Christmas and New Year’s Eve will both be spent indoors. My holidays are pretty quiet – I prefer to just celebrate with a few family and friends. On New Year’s Eve, I’ll probably be spending the day with my family and cat, prepping for a big dinner. Towards the evening, we’ll have a few friends over, eat dinner and drink tree tomato wine. And at midnight, we’ll step outside to see the fireworks light up the sky.  Then, it’s off to bed! 

But if you’re looking for suggestions on what to do for New Year’s, there’s plenty to do in Kodai.

Have a lovely holiday!

Ms P

Ms Perumalmalai

Ms Perumalmalai grew up in Kodai, worked in different cities in India, and has travelled around the world. She recently returned to Kodai and lives in Perumalmalai with her cat and rooms full of books.

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