PARIS DIARY

There is no place like home in times of Covid-19

This is your time. Detox from the forwards, the news and your phone for half a day and make an effort to connect to whoever is in front of you, even if the only person with you is the one in the mirror.

 |  PARIS DIARY  |  5-minute read |   27-03-2020
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Twenty-one days, 1.3 billion in full lockdown!

News on the other side of the world — couldn’t believe that a democracy as large and diverse as India could be confined. But these are apocalyptic times and there is no room for soft measures. Social distancing in India to many, before the official curfew, meant going for dinner parties ("Oh, but it was only with very close friends"), and to parks ("Arrey, but it is next door and we know everyone there"), and my favourite — driving to slums, which even Google had a tough time finding, to beg their domestic help to not abandon them. This despite the strict diktats of the housing society that no one apart from deliverymen were to be allowed in and out ("Uff ho, please I’m not going to start cooking and cleaning now on top of everything"). Perhaps, now that Ms Kaif has made washing up and sweeping the new normal, the privileged may find the way to their kitchens and broom cupboards.

main_katrina-doing-d_032720095507.jpgNow that Ms Kaif has made washing up and sweeping the new normal, the privileged may find the way to their kitchens and broom cupboards. (Photo: Instagram/ @katrinakaif)

Prime Minister Modi pleaded with everyone to stay home, but nearly two million Indians don’t have a home to go to. Construction stopped overnight and migrant workers, who most likely built the roof over your head, wanted a roof over theirs. As I watch video after video of them with their empty stomachs and pockets walking hundreds of kilometres to get to their villages, I wonder what is the point of the government announcing the hefty financial packages if it can’t reach the people it is meant for and at the time they need it most?

Didn’t this government valiantly evacuate the Indian immigrant population from Iran and China, deploying the Air Force when needed? Why can’t it provide a few buses to get its migrant citizens within the country home? Or, convert one of the idle Rajdhani trains into a temporary shelter (France is using its TGV trains to ease hospitals).

The disease has made everyone afraid of everyone. If the bigoted believe they have carte blanche to senselessly ban the white-coated soldiers, who are saving their ignorant souls from entering their own homes, then how brutally would they shun those from the streets? Lest we forget, it was probably the privileged world-travellers that brought the disease into the country in the first place. Adversity does not build character, as they say, it reveals it, and I hope this compulsory confinement reveals our true Indian sense of community.

main_migrant-laboure_032720095437.jpgA migrant worker carries his son as they walk along a road with others to return to their village, during the 21-day nationwide lockdown. (Photo: Reuters)

In Paris, we are a couple of weeks ahead of the alarming curve and I know staying at home when you are forced to is tough. The worst part is even if you decide to stay in your pyjamas all day, it’s not a holiday or a weekend, you still have to home-school (when and why did our teachers become so e-savvy?), find a quiet second to work, get food on the table, disinfect everyone and everything and keep your own anxiety/boredom (fine line these days) at bay. But it is easier than dying alone in an isolation ward.

For those still feeling foolishly infallible, take heed — this is no ordinary flu. Even when your symptoms are “mild”, you feel like you can’t breathe. My producing partner in London tested positive and though the doctors didn’t feel her symptoms warranted hospitalisation, she still needed oxygen and essential meds to clear her lungs before she could breathe with ease. She was made to wait almost 24 hours before she was seen to — there were 360 odd patients before her (this is what ‘overwhelming the system’ means). There was not a soul in the isolation ward, everyone was being kept away. “FEAR” was the worst symptom she said — “the minute you know you have it, it’s fight or flight. The fear of getting worse and seeing that we are all so unprepared.” She’s keeping a brave face and distance from her daughter who she is desperate to squeeze and hug, but obviously can’t.

main_koel_032720100033.jpgIt is now the time to reconnect with the family. (Photo: Koel Purie Rinchet)

There is collateral damage from the disease as it devastates the frontlines of the best European hospitals — regular breast cancer treatment postponed (time is not your friend when surviving the cursed ‘C’), expecting mothers told to have their babies at home (what if there are complications?), a physically-challenged child who has a life-altering surgery unable to have the critical physiotherapy needed to make the surgery a success (and isn’t the physiotherapist a daily wage earner of a different kind? Who’s going to give him a monetary package?). The list goes on.

Before moaning about staying in, think of what it means to not go out. Forget about the masterpiece you were sure to produce if you had the time (if you really wanted to you would’ve found the time for it anyway), or those hundreds of books and movies that you’ve been waiting to watch, forget fixing that broken shelf — instead fix your relationship with yourself and your loved ones. This is your time. Detox from the forwards, the news and your phone for half a day and make an effort to connect to whoever is in front of you, even if the only person with you is the one in the mirror. Remember there is no place like home, especially one with soap, water and a roof — the first line of defence.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

Also read: How to Survive the Lockdown

Writer

Koel Purie Rinchet Koel Purie Rinchet @koelscouch

Professional Attention Seeker. Currently loves and writes in Paris.

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