In this week’s Coronavirus Chronicles, Rakesh Joomuck, managing director at Pearl Representation, shares how he’s rediscovered his passion for cooking during lockdown, and is using it as a way to showcase DMC partners through ‘A Journey of Flavours with Pearl’ video series on social media…
Who would have thought from running around like headless chickens with our events and travel industry, planning one trip after the other, driving for miles a day to see clients and secure great business deals to name a few… that one day all this would come to a halt and instead we would have all the spare time to focus on life, cherish what we have, ‘me time’, cooking, exercising, and time with loved ones…
My personal journey through Covid-19 started when we first heard from our South East Asia colleagues and friends back in late Jan / early Feb when this virus started to cause disruptions in China, with the fear that this may also affect other neighbouring counties within South East Asia. However, back then I thought it was going to be like recent epidemics such as SARS, MERS, ZICA and was going to be controlled and contained within that part of the world.
My last long-haul travel was when I ventured out to South Africa on the 20th of February. We hosted the most wonderful and out of this world pre & post Fam-Trip around Meetings Africa with 10 Buyers from the UK. Starting in Sun City, we were later joined by another 10 Buyers from Australia in Cape Town, all hosted by our fabulous DMC URBAN GINGA in South Africa, which was the most amazing experience ever.
The talk about Covid-19 had already begun and some of the agencies on the trip were having to postpone events. That slowly became our every day’s conversation, albeit, we were having such a true incentive and experience of a lifetime without realising that soon this wonderful dream was going to end. We all landed back in the UK on the 1st of March and it was like landing in a dark zone where no one knew what was going to hit us with events being postponed, cancelled, on hold, our leisure clients cancelling/postponing their holidays as if life was coming to an end!
March was the toughest month – seeing all the projects we had in our books for our DMCs across the globe, being moved to later in the year, to 2021 and even cancelled after all the time and effort we had all put into these projects. I started speaking to all our DMCs on a daily basis as well as supporting all our clients with their postponed and cancelled events, but I was still being hopeful that it was just for some time and there would be some light at the end of this tunnel.
Some days were very tough and depressing and others were okay as I had to keep the morale up with my team and we started to brainstorm ideas for how we were going to cope through the pandemic. From the 23rd March, we set some objectives as well as agreements with all our DMC Partners and also came up with the idea of staying connected through Zoom and Microsoft Teams and being there to support our clients as well as DMCs.
It soon became the ‘new normal’ to be chatting with our clients, our DMCs and key suppliers through zoom, taking the opportunity to share knowledge, experiences, update on the destinations, venues and even some great recipes across the countries we represent with clients. I felt I have got to know some of my industry peers a lot better having had multiple catch ups over virtual calls, all looking out for each other.
We started some cocktail challenges around Easter weekend with the making of Espresso Martini (my favourite), Aperol Spritz, Margarita etc as we wanted to make all the zoom calls we conducted fun and engaging. We also started sharing recipes of a famous dish from some countries such as Guacamole from our Mexico DMC, Tagine from our Morocco DMC, Chilli Bites from Mauritius, Barbajuan from Monaco to name a few… I thought keeping the morale up and sharing some positivity with our clients and colleagues was what we wanted to do and stay connected.
It made me realise how much I missed cooking, trying new recipes and spending a lot of time during weekends in the kitchen, sampling the recipes that have been shared by our DMCs from different countries with some short video clips and sharing these via social media with friends, clients and family. I even learned some new techniques such as how to edit video, and created ‘A Journey of Flavours with Pearl’ on Vimeo. Whilst we can’t travel to any countries and can’t even leave our home to go to a restaurant, it really helped discovering new flavours from different countries and I even got a few of our clients, friends and family to make some new dishes from scratch at home.
I’m very lucky to have the most wonderful life partner, business partner, a true soul mate and we really enjoyed each other’s company during lockdown keeping each other’s morale up and working through this crisis together. My heart goes to everyone who has been directly affected in many ways by this virus; this is the moment to appreciate life, cherish your loved ones and be grateful for what we have.
Nowadays, when we receive a new brief during this crisis has been the best thing ever with lots of excitement and I personally think it is a sign that our industry will bounce back. We all know that there will be lots of measures and restrictions with what can and cannot be done, but we just need to adapt and appreciate the new pace of life and give back to the environment. Covid-19 has taught us all a lesson, halting our everyday routine, making us appreciate life more than before and all these little things we do and love, sitting back, relaxing and appreciating life. See you all on the other side!
#Stay Safe #Keep Positive #Be Strong