Thursday, March 19, 2020

COVID-19: Self Isolation Day 1 from a Sydney sider

It’s been sometime that I have blogged or written anything beyond official emails, official documents, business cases or even sweet nothings to my wife. WhatsApp has changed our world and made a fast food of our writing skills than enjoying the main course such as Blogging, writing a diary!

The ongoing pandemic with COVID-19 has caught the world by storm. What started in Wuhan has now spread to Wyoming, Waikato, Windsor and every place inhabited on earth. I got the call on a Wednesday night mid night and was told that I have been identified as someone who was in touch with a person positively identified with COVID-19. The reality hit me hard in a few seconds once I got off the phone, taking in instructions that seemed hard to believe. Self isolation immediately meant, stay in the same house but have no physical proximity with family members (social distancing) and also keep a conscious watch over your health and report any symptoms to the local General Practitioner. I would need to identify that I was in touch with someone who was tested postitive for COVID-19, if I do feel un well. And yes, for a period of time, work remotely, no commute, no coffee catchups, no missing buses and no working while you are taking the metro. You are in prison in your own house, for your own betterment, your family’s health , your community and world. For someone, who loves giving unconditional cuddles to his 3 year old daughter till he is dismissed off , or who shows affection by a hug, pat in the back with other adult family members, this is a big punishment for no offence. Neither it is the fault of the person who contracted COVID-19 or the person who asked me to take safety precautions. It’s just nature’s wrath unleashed upon us humans for being selfish, cruel through their virus. Can I stop it ? Can the Presidents of one of the most powerful or populated countries stop it? The answer is No. But, with individual actions such as Self Isolation, social distancing and avoiding crowds and staying at home, we can break the chasm and flatten the curve.

So I woke up this Thursday morning, to my new reality. The reality of being constrained in a physical
space of 10*15 feet for at least a week. The reality of being in jail with no criminal background and also when you know if you want you can break the rules. But as they say, with great freedom comes great responsibility. It also reminds of the house arrests that freedom fighters, political prisoners have historically had in more testing conditions, that used to be described in history books. I never realised that I  will create similar history in the modern world. The day was overall well spent as work, telephone calls. webex, conference calls occupied Most of my thinking capacity. In such a pandemic as well the collective strength of my colleagues, seniors, peers and management to keep our associates safe, comply to on the fly regulations and enable business continuity  with minimal service disruptions is very inspiring. My wife and I have our parents visiting us this summer. Three senior citizens who have braved the long commute from Mumbai to Sydney to spend time with us and spoil their grand daughter (who recently turned three in front of their eyes) with love, cuddles and smiles. My fate is such that I am still consuming their services than be in a position to take care of them and be a helping hand to my wife and them with household chores, shopping, putting the bin out or even turning on the dishwasher. Feel guilty with this parasitic existence and further burdening my wife who has now lost a partner in crime (atleast for few days) as we balance (or try to) the growing demands and request for attention of our three year old, making the house clean, operational and functional for all of us and balance our work life. But hey, when the going gets tough , we get going. This too shall pass and while it will test our nerves and best of our patience, we all will emerge stronger and closer.

As my daughter came back from day care today ,I overheard her talking to her mom indicating she  wanted to pick me up from the metro station (like most of the days when I reach home late), stating “Daddy’s office”. As i stepped out of my cave upstairs and appeared to the top  of my stairs, she gave a delightful scream and frantically gestured with her hands stating  “come daddy, come”! It made me feel so weak  on my knees, I quickly ducked away and back into my cave, not letting my emotions get the better of me. I have been served all my meals and refreshments by family members, leaving them  mid way between the flight of stairs or right on top, with a hope to catch a glimpse of me. While we all know, this is precautionary and I  am fine otherwise , it takes our eyes to convince our hearts than the minds that ‘All is Well’!

My mom stole moments balancing her walker to watch me and make an appearance up the stairs, recharging her sufficiently for the next few hours as she cooks yummy lunch, exercises or helps around the house to the best of her abilities. My wife put fresh clothes, towels, dinner, and anything random up for me with utmost composure and patience, which isn’teasy with the demands of a three year old that drains out her energy. Dads special tea, ‘helping around the house’ qualities which haven’t got down with age and passion to replant,remake our garden is definitely seeing more flowers smiling in the front yard.  My father in law continues to chop vegetables with added frevor, ensure our laundry gets the best of sunny side to dry quickly and free lances around the house.I miss our moments of opening up different wines in the last few days, with karaoke or friendly banter around the dinner table, being entertained by my daughter, completely unaware that life will be completely opposite in 24 hours. I had been to our neighbours house on Tuesday and from a safe distance exchanged pleasantries and checked if they were ok and needed toilet tissues or if I could run an errand for them. Both of them, very senior citizens,  were worried, but were managing the show and had enough humour interlaced in conversations that lifted my own spirits up. I asked them to reach out to me at anytime for anything that they need. Wish I could now tell them,  I want to so badly help them if needed, but may end up needing all the help myself.

As my daughter went up to the bed with her mom, I missed the good night hug that she gives so lovingly no matter how tired she is. She saw me laying by the corner of the upstairs living areas and realising I am pretending to be sick to isolate myself , She pretended to call the doctor and said ‘ Can  you help daddy ? He isn’t ok.’, making me very emotional, for the second time in less than five hours. 

Phew but wait, every cloud has a Silver lining ! My wife managed to get Toilet Tissues (in our eight attempt in as  many Days ) this day at Woolies and we were happy just as newly weds or having a new born! That’s it for today, more updates tomorrow!