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Downtime Diary

Jahanara Alam: 'This time I will fast for Ramadan'

Away from her family during the lockdown, Jahanara Alam is using the downtime to observe Ramadan and do some community service

Jahanara Alam looks on, sixth match, India v Bangladesh, Women's T20 World Cup, WACA, Perth Australia, February 24, 2020

Jahanara Alam is missing out on family time after self-isolating on her return from the Women's T20 World Cup  •  Getty Images

We spoke to Bangladesh women bowler Jahanara Alam, for our Downtime Diaries series, in which cricketers tell us how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their lives and routines.
Are you finding it difficult to be so restricted at this time?
At the start of the lockdown, I was really stressed about staying home all the time. But I normally lead a very disciplined life. I couldn't fast during last year's Ramadan as I was playing most of the time. This time I plan to keep my roza [fast] regularly, pray and recite the Quran. Doing all of these things allows me to avoid negative thoughts.
How have you been keeping fit?
Before Ramadan, I was working out once every two days. Since I don't have a gym at home, I was doing high-intensity workouts like using the stairs, core work and bodyweight push-ups. Since Ramadan began, I work out once every three days, but shorter hours so I don't get dehydrated.
Where would you have been playing if not for the lockdown?
The Women's National League was supposed to start on March 26, and I was going to lead the Sylhet Division. I was supposed to be in training camp for two weeks, so I decided to stay back in Dhaka, rather than going to my family in Khulna and then Sylhet. But then it became a pandemic, and since I had returned from Australia on March 8, I decided to quarantine myself. I felt it was my responsibility to keep my family safe. And by the time my quarantine was over, I couldn't really risk going to Khulna using public transport.
I don't know if I can spend much time with my family after the lockdowns are over, as we have a lot of cricket coming up. The women's NCL and the Dhaka Premier League are scheduled to take place. We also have the Women's World Cup Qualifier in July, to be held in Sri Lanka, and if we can qualify we will be headed to New Zealand in February next year. There is also supposed to be a home or away series against Sri Lanka, but I am not sure when.
Have you been in touch with many of your team-mates to see how they are coping?
I have found out that everyone is healthy and [most are] with their families. We spend a lot of time together in the team, which is like our second family. When they go back to their first family, they should be allowed to spend time with them. Some of them are stuck in Dhaka, like me. They are quite lonely.
We've heard that you've been doing a bit of social service.
A few weeks ago, a slum in my area burned down. There were a lot of homeless people there, who had no food or work. I was motivated by what social workers and other organisations were doing during this time. It took me three or four days to arrange food for several families for at least two days, with some help from a local grocer. I am hopeful that some more people will be inspired by me. Even if they think negatively and say that I am showing off, I want to tell them that please [you also] show off and help four or five families. Otherwise they will go hungry. Many of these poor people can't afford to stay at home. They need a daily income.
What is one thing outside of cricket that you miss being able to do?
I miss my family the most. We don't normally get to spend time with family due to our busy schedule. Otherwise, when there's no tournament, I spend most of the time outside. As soon as I complete my fajr [dawn] prayers, I head to the Shere Bangla National Stadium next door, to do my running and gym. I am done by eight in the morning, after which I hit the nets. I sometimes head out in the evening, maybe for dinner, but not for too long. I don't have a lot of activities outside cricket, so I am not really missing much.
Have you cooked anything interesting?
I have tried to make sweets. Kalo jaam and bundia. I have made mutton biryani, ilish polao, jilapi and chanachur by watching recipes on YouTube. For the ilish polao I needed sweet yoghurt, but since I can't buy it, I made it myself at home too.
Did you notice that your eyeliner was much appreciated during the T20 World Cup this year?
I had seen Melinda Farrell's tweet when someone sent it to me on messenger. Maybe it only got noticed at the World Cup this year, and I enjoyed the compliments, but I have been using kajol or eyeliner from the start of my career. See, even if I forget to brush my hair or take my wallet, I never forget to put on my kajol. It is the first thing I do. While I enjoyed the social media posts, I would have loved it if we could have performed better at the World Cup.
More Downtime Diaries here

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84