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Coronavirus: 'We pray for the return to normalcy with high fives and hugs'

By AKSHAY DASANI
April 22, 2020 15:51 IST
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'Virtual is the new Ritual and my mind often wonders: Did it have to take a microscopic inert organism to bring families closer?'

Photograph: Akshay Dasani

People of Indian Origin and NRIs describe the impact coronavirus is having on their lives.

 

Part 1 in the series: 'Our world is coming to a complete standstill'

Part 2 in the series: 'Indian Americans collected 6 months of groceries'

Part 3 in the series: 'Coronavirus: 'These are strange times'

Part 4 in the series: 'This virus has taken over the world'

Part 5 in the series: 'The virus has always felt at arm's length from me'

Part 6 in the series: 'We are now the eye of the storm'

Part 7 in the series: 'As a healthcare worker I feel the continuous gratitude of people'

Part 8 in the series:'Normal may never comeback'

Part 9 in the series:'A new reality is forcing its way into our lives'

Part 10: 'Life, as I have known it for 16 years here, has changed'


Akshay Dasani, Dubai

The UAE has positioned itself as a go-to tourist destination.

Malls, shopping, bars, beaches, Warner Brothers, The Louvre, the Gold Souq and Dragon Mart (for almost all kinds of low-priced products).

Dining out and small to large parties are often de rigueur.

That is the backdrop and consequently, the realisation of the severity of COVID-19, I reckon, was low.

Then, in late March the government commenced its measures and organisations started off social distancing, with part of the workforce being split across different locations and part working from home.

That culminated in a formal diktat on a lockdown on April 4, for two weeks.

In each family and within each family, reactions were diverse.

Some had fear as the primary emotion. Others felt this to be a passing phase.

The community we live in may be described as an upper-middle class, residential area with a mix of Caucasian/white (largely western European) and Asian (predominantly Indian) backgrounds.

The initial days of lockdown were followed rather loosely, as my first photograph illustrates.

Skateboards, cycles, rollerblades, strollers were all out.

A supermarket in the vicinity was always still fairly crowded.

I had never seen so many kids and teenagers within the community; a pleasant sight indeed, as I belong to a later life phase.

Then the global curve of the pandemic started climbing and the UAE government enforced further strictness.

Permission is now required to step out -- only for emergencies/groceries.

Dog walks too are not permitted, although with trepidation we have attempted to walk our fourth family member in the shortest possible distance and friendly neighbours nod understandingly from far.

I suppose the human race is still not evolved to have self-discipline, despite warnings. Fines/jail terms then become the only deterrents and majority now do indeed stay at home.

A few self-made flags hang from balconies, reading: Stay home or Stay safe.

The photograph of the empty road is from Episode No 2 (too much Netflixing?). A far cry from the previous photograph.

Photograph: Akshay Dasani

Our family resolved to self-maid, as dictated by necessity rather than by choice. Our maid had to leave the country for personal reasons (just before the lockdown).

Calling for part timers is a no-no. Thus, responsibilities are now divided and apart from official work from home, there is the added home-work!

Group activities are now discussed and implemented -- garbage, dishes, vacuuming, et al!

Board games, which were gathering dust are now out. "Boggle any one? Oh, how about Scrabble or that game of rummy? Hey put up the dart board."

For some, It Takes Two to Tango but for us It Takes Two to Car Wash!

News is watched together, as, of course, are films and serials.

Amongst all this, physical fitness cannot be far behind!

From the vroom of daily life, it is now Zoom. The yoga instructor is on Zoom twice a week.

Social distancing is replaced by digital closeness and friends's birthdays are celebrated by entering into a meeting-invite, by keying in your password -- no ringing the doorbell please!

All in all, while praying for safety for one and all, we do pray for the return to normalcy with high fives and hugs.

But till then, Virtual is the new Ritual and my mind often wonders: Did it have to take a microscopic inert organism to bring families closer?

To replace the 'I' or me with 'us'?


Dear Reader:

Are you someone of Indian origin living through these challenging times abroad?

We would like to hear how you are coping and what's happening outside your window.

How it has been for you emotionally and practically?

We would like to have your observations and perspectives.

Please share your responses with us and we will publish your account right here on Rediff.com.

Do write to us at news@rediff.co.in (Subject: Living abroad through COVID-19) along with your NAME, AGE and LOCATION.

Please don't forget to share a photograph of yourself and any significant pictures or videos you have taken of the area where you live. You are welcome to send your account on video too!

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The War Against Coronavirus