Nida Zafar’s favourite things of 2021

From new shows to a medical miracle, there was a lot to love about the past year.

2021 was an eventful year.

Vaccines were made available to anyone who wanted one, and Ontario’s reopening this past summer reminded me of what life was like prior to the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean the past year wasn’t difficult.

With thousands of COVID-19 cases being reported each day, and the emergence of one variant after another, my anxiety around the virus never waivered. It was the limitations, and small ounces of freedom, presented by the pandemic that dictated what I did over the year and, surprisingly, shaped my list of favourites.

The vaccine

Image credit: ShutterStock

The various vaccines against COVID-19 are at the top of my list as they created a safety net against the virus, and for the first time since March 2020, gave me hope that things might get back to normal.

Although that’s far from the truth at this point in time, given the spread of Omicron and the very little that’s known about it, the fact that something was created to fight COVID-19 is pretty amazing.

If you’re like me and follow a lot of health professionals on social media, you may have heard them say “thank you science” whenever they got vaccinated. As someone who feels strongly about getting vaccinated, science is indeed the thing to thank.

Netflix’s Lupin

A “gentleman thief” trying to clear his dead father’s name, is there a better storyline than that? Netflix was full of amazing shows this year — You, Money Heist, and Squid Games, just to name a few — but Lupin was the most memorable for me during the multiple lockdowns in Ontario.

The show retells the story of Arsene Lupin, a French thief who’s a master of disguise, through the character of Assane Diop, the only child of his immigrant father from Senegal. His father is framed for stealing an expensive jewel from his former employer. He eventually hangs himself after being wrongly imprisoned. Diop uses Lupin’s tricks to avenge his father and prove the real thief.

The best food app

Food waste is a major problem in Canada. According to Second Harvest, 35.5 million metric tonnes of food is wasted every year. This is about 60 percent of the food produced in the country. Considering the rising number of foodbank use during the pandemic, and the larger issue of food insecurity in Canada and around the world, coming across these numbers from Second Harvest left a pit in my stomach. It made me reevaluate my shopping habits and the food that gets wasted in my household and I learned there are a number of initiatives that fight this.

My favourite, and most used, is Too Good To Go. The app connects people to restaurants and markets that have extra food that would be thrown out if not consumed. Each location makes up “surprise bags” with whatever they have leftover and sells them at discounted prices. I’ve found most bags to be around the $5 mark. I’ve come across restaurants, coffee shops, juice bars, and grocers offering these bags and found I’m trying places I normally wouldn’t frequent.

It can be a little tricky if you have certain dietary restrictions, but there is an option for customers to call the store they want a bag from before they pay to try and get more information.

Favourite book

Like most, I’ve worked the entirety of the past year at home, staring at a screen for upwards of 12-hours a day at times. So when it came time to take a breather, I often turned to a book to give my eyes a little break from the searing light of the screen.

One of my favourites this year was The Killer Inside by Cass Green. I’m one of those people who enjoys reading and watching crime-related content in my free time, and this book is right up my alley. It features lies, mysteries, and one plot twist after another, making for a perfect read.


The transcription app is tried and true for most in the journalism industry. It allows users to upload recorded interviews into a database to be transcribed. I can honestly say that it has saved me hours of time this past year. The best part is the search feature, which allows me to look up certain words in the interview.

This is especially useful in longer interviews as I don’t have to go through the entire transcript to find a specific quote I need, and can just search for a key term instead.

Here’s to hoping next year’s list involves more outdoor favourites!

Image credits: ShutterStock and Netflix