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NEW DELHI : What are young, talented and lockdown-battered professionals to do to keep their skills from rusting if the work involves close-touch or group activity? Start teaching online.

That’s what a range of professionals—from chefs, fitness trainers, make-up artists to even stand-up comedians—are doing as gigs dry up in a physical world bogged down by distancing norms.

Popular stand-up comic Aditi Mittal saw her closed-door events starting to dwindle in early March. It was time to take the plunge online.

After a month-and-a-half of “contemplating life", Mittal hit upon the idea of teaching how to make people laugh—live. Her beginners’ stand-up comedy workshop, “#CrashBurnLearn", priced at 5,500 (plus taxes) is booked till the end of the month, she said.

“It is quite exciting because it is like performing for a screen, performing for a hole in your laptop, instead of performing in front of a crowd," she said.

And if you’ve had it with the deluge of immunity boosting recipes from your friendly neighbourhood ‘aunty’, you can do worse than sign up with Anahita N. Dhondy, chef partner, SodaBottleOpenerWala, in Gurugram.

With her popular Parsi restaurant only servicing deliveries, Dhondy is planning to host online cooking classes starting later this month.

India’s prolonged lockdown has seen interest in cooking surge. Dhondy, who has hosted live cooking sessions at her restaurant in Gurugram, will price her classes at 1,000 at most.

“I’m doing it out of passion right now because I don’t feel this is something that’s going to sustain my income. But if they go off really well, I can make it a more regular fixture," she said.

There’s hope, too, for bedraggled lockdowners.

Last week, Pooja Khurana, a south-Delhi based makeup artist hosted her first Zoom makeup class for over 50 participants, who paid 3,500 each to attend the over-four-hour session. Khurana says most of her clients have moved their planned wedding celebrations to the end of the year, which has given her the time to “experiment" with online sessions. Khurana has two master classes lined up this month.

With plummeting fitness acknowledged to be a dangerous outcome of the lockdown, coach Jesika Gulati who works at Crossfit 367 at Punjabi Bagh in Delhi, started fitness training sessions on Zoom for 1,600 per month for five classes a week. “I started the training for my clients as they wanted to continue their routine. It is a decent source of income. Over the last one month, with word of mouth and social media posts, people have started showing interest," she said.

There are takers for film criticism courses, too, for when film buffs are closeted at home.

Although the e-learning course by Film Companion, a movie portal founded by film critic Anupama Chopra, was planned before covid-19, it went online during the lockdown. Four critics—Anupama Chopra, Baradwaj Rangan, Rahul Desai and Sucharita Tyagi teach the course. It has been curated in collaboration with Ashoka University and costs 499 for 10 lessons.

Declining to share subscriber numbers, Chopra said the team recovered five times what it needed to break even. “It will be an ongoing thing and we will definitely add to it because it’s part of our educainment vertical," Chopra said.

Lata Jha and Saumya Tewari contributed to the story.

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