Mumbai Diaries – Corona Times
I’ve lost count of days. It’s almost a week now since schools and offices have been shut to avoid spread of the virus. We’ve been sitting indoors venturing out infrequently for groceries and for a breath of fresh air.The streets are relatively empty and so are the shelves in the neighborhood supermarket because people have started panic buying and hoarding. The air feels cleaner. Its because of fewer vehicles on the road. My black mask manages to keep whatever else out and I now breathe confidently even when a passer-by coughs or sneezes. But, surprisingly, until a few days’ ago, I was the only one wearing it. Everybody I passed by stared at me like there was something wrong. It made me wonder if the news of the virus that I had been reading about indoors, was a terrible dream and outdoors was a reality which was in stark contrast or it was the other way around . But day-before-yesterday, thankfully, there were more people wearing masks – the security of the apartment building, the sales staff in the supermarket and a few others’. But not everybody.
Outside there is silence these days’ and inside the house there is a buzz. The first two days’ were hard with everybody finding the change difficult. But after a week, we’ve settled into the new way of life. We stick to an unwritten plan. The day begins with a quick check of messages and the news on the mobile phone, followed by exercise, then a call to my sister to see if she’s doing fine. Earlier, we’d speak once in a week or two because of the time difference and each one of us being busy with our lives. We messaged as and when. Now we call almost every day. Then a call to dad.
Only then starts the day’s work. With the maid not coming anymore, it’s being shared by each member of the family. We’re practicing division- of -labor. And I’m happy to say, it’s turning out just fine. You can tell, because I wouldn’t be finding time to write otherwise. Nobody’s reaching breaking point.
The kitchen is the busiest place – cooking up meals for hungry tummies, now that we’re not ordering any food from the restaurants. Also there are more greens and pulses being cooked. The occasional undercurrents are met by a single statement, ‘ Be thankful. We do not know about tomorrow.’ We’re not wasting food anymore.
The initial cribbing of not being able to meet friends and go shopping especially since this happened after a year of working hard for the IGCSE exams, has been replaced with book reading. Even the first impression ‘boring,’ books are being ingested though reluctantly. We’re watching movies together. Orders have been placed for more books and canvases.
Even hubby who’s not had much time on his hand, thanks to work looks forward now to a game of table-tennis with the girls'( the dining table gets converted to a TT table to meet the need). The board games of the past which had been stored right on the top of the cupboard and forgotten about, have now made their way down – scrabble, monopoly, snakes and ladders. Yesterday we played monopoly. The day before it was scrabble. Carom, Dumb charades, Pictionary is on the cards.
We’re having our meals together and tea-time is the most cherished hour when we sit in the balcony and have tea. The big winged kites that soar and compete, pigeons and crows on the roof top of the building opposite and parakeets that have migrated keep us entertained with their antics . A greater attention is being paid to the trees – some look bleached a light yellow green, some green red and other dark green; the sky and the clouds. And we talk of the places we traveled, the places we want to travel. We’re laughing and sharing more. The screaming and arguing has reduced.
I hope there’s a cure for this or we’re able to control the spread through social distancing. Its a time that none of us will forget easily. Its connected all of us across the world – irrespective of age, color, race, religion and financial status.
Today, I got a message from my very first boss- from across the border. He contacted me after 15 years to find out how I and my family are doing. The spread of the virus needs to be stopped. There’s no doubt about that. But this period has definitely brought people closer, strengthened bonds between family and helped people reassess priorities. That’s for certain.
Yesterday, in India at 5.00 p.m., we clapped for all those in the medical profession who have been working 18 or more hours a day for the last one week or more. It was beautiful to see people standing in their balconies, cheering. It was a mark of solidarity and essential in a country which has been divided over so many issues, over the last few months. The government had declared a curfew. Today long distance trains have been cancelled and offices. Only necessities shall remain open. While the number of cases have increased to approximately 350 over the last one week, the truth is that the measures put in place are robust and are being followed by most people. There are a few who continue to break the rules who hopefully are penalized for their irresponsible behavior.
For all those outside India who have been sending me messages, asking how I’m doing and what’s happening in India – well, India is fighting and we hope and pray that we win the fight. And we wish the same for all other nations too.
Please take care and stay safe all.
How are you spending your days? Do share in the comments.
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