In Jan 2020, when i first read a few reports on the COVID-19 Virus in Wuhan, I was not immediately concerned. I mean, this is the 21st century, surely the scientists of today can come up with something to counter the virus, right. Well, now i know how incorrect my original assessment was. The disease has spread across the globe and gone on to become one of the deadliest pandemics in the modern century. COVID-19 has reshaped the way the world lives, breathes and moves.
As the reports of the outbreak started to make news headlines in Feb, the general public mostly remained oblivious to the dangers of the virus. Most of us probably treated this as fiction. People shared snapshots of novels that seemingly had predicted this outbreak in 1980, people shared video clips that indicated that the virus was made in a lab and so forth. The Virus is believed to have originated from the live animal markets in Wuhan, China. As there were reports of increased infections and deaths, China forced the city of Wuhan into a lock-down, shut down its factories and implemented massive travel restrictions to help control the spread. Turns out the effort came in a little too late. Wuhan was a transport bub and millions of people who came in contact with the virus had already traveled to Europe, Asia and America. This NY Times article shows how the virus got out.
By early March, countries like Italy and Singapore started showing signs of becoming the hotspots. Many countries imposed travel restrictions to and from China. The fact that China was a global manufacturing hub and its economy had to take a hit meant that the global supply chain started showing signs of strain for the first time. All of us were shell shocked by the exponential increase in the number of infections and deaths across Europe and other Asian countries. As more countries started to impose lockdowns and restrictions, we started to notice weird behaviors in consumerism. Grocery stores started having massive lines. People started stocking up on Frozen food items, sanitizers, cleaning supplies and Toilet papers. Stores would empty out in a few hours after they opened. Houston showed no sign of slowing down, the Rodeo was on, the woodlands marathon was on. I ran the woodlands half, that too with a personal best time.
Soon after the first cases started to pop up in Houston, the city decided that it would advise all people to stay home as much as they can. There we no lockdown per say but the general guidance was to practice social distancing and stay at home as much as we could. The schools closed down and we were notified that the kids would have to adapt to an online curriculum. All malls, theaters and bars were closed. Though restaurants were open for take out, we decided not to venture out. I also decided that i would refrain from running outside. For the first few days, the whole stay at home concept had an interesting dynamic. The family enjoyed the company, I was still being productive at work, the kiddo started to adapt to home schooling and the wife started to experiment with food. I had to make a few adjustments and get the home work environment setup. But once done, the only thing i missed was the sit-stand desk from work. As the days stretched to weeks, the sheer repetitive nature of the days started to wear us down. We had massive newfound respect for what the teachers did. It is not easy to teach a kid. I can tell you that now.
The kiddo has stayed at home for all the while, and looks at us as playmates. As a young kid, i remember playing catch. I would imagine that i was a slip fielder (a fantastic one at that!), and then would throw a tennis ball against the wall and catch it. I literally used to do this for hours, yet i feel so bored when i do the same with kiddo. There are no games that i can play with the kiddo for long. I either get tired or frustrated. I had decided earlier that i would not go out to run and risk anything, but the sheer mundaneness forced me to throw caution to the wind and go out. Well, I was not exactly being reckless, the routes i take to run are pretty desolate and i rarely come in contact with anyone during the run. I also make sure that i wipe down any surface i touch with sanitizing wipes after i come back. Anyways adding this back to the life has helped me manage the stress a bit i would think. I also have started to take the kiddo out for a walk around the building in the evenings, so that she could get some exercise and fresh air. It is not really fun to answer questions though! Does it ever stop?
We have limited our grocery shopping to once a week. I go out, get the things in the list and get out. I don’t linger or even shop around. Our cost of living has fallen drastically, considering we don’t eat out, or shop casually anymore. The internet usage has shot way up, but the internet provider has been considerate enough to not track limits during this time. The two day delivery is no longer reliable, as Amazon has prioritized the supply chain, so we have drastically reduced our online shopping as well. The lockdown, definitely has resulted in fewer vehicles on the road. I am gladdened by the reports of reduction in the pollution levels across the world. I understand this is not enough to fight the ongoing battle against climate change. But these small victories are important right? I don’t know if it is the reduced traffic, or the fact that we spend a lot more time home, We have noticed that our apartment complex is a hub for a wide variety of birds. So, the kiddo and i have started to spot birds regularly. Our apartments are close to the River crest estates a multi millionaire neighborhood. The roads are well paved and and has fantastic tree cover. This also is a birding hotspot. We have identified 17 unique species in the last few days. The Audubon app is a great tool to identify boards and also track sightings. I decided to buy binoculars to help see the smaller birds clearly and thus made the first online purchase in a while. The sky genius is a fantastic one, the sheer clarity of the image and the build quality is astounding. The little moments we share doing things together as a family will hopefully stay in their minds forever. I definitely would cherish these memories for years to come.
We are two months into the lock down now, while i have been lucky enough to hunker down safely there are many others who have not been so lucky. The general slowdown in life has impacted the economy and the industries negatively. The tourism industry and the restaurant business have been hit the hardest. People have lost jobs, and are unable to pay their mortgages and rents. The uncertainty factor is at an all time high. At this time there are 307,486 deaths (on 5/15/2020) recorded across the globe. Doctors, nurses and grocery store workers are hailed as heroes. They are in the frontline taking care of the sick and reporting to work while we stay in the comforts of our home. While some politicians have stepped up and shown true leadership skills, many other have been exposed for what they truly are. Governments are scrambling to restore order but all operations so far have been chaotic. I read a quote in Twitter that i completely agreed to “The pandemic did not break the system, it just exposed a broken system”. Unfortunately, the under privileged seemed to have taken the brunt of the disease. The images of the daily wage labourers who are trying to walk hundreds of kilometers to reach their homes as they have no access to food or money is truly saddening. The sheer callousness of those in power to not care for the rights of people is unethical. The only thing i can do for now is to keep all in my prayers.
I do not know how long this is going to last, do not have any plans and can only thinking of facing one day at a time now. Stay Safe, Stay Healthy!