I woke up one day to a WhatsApp video sent by my dad about a sighting of Hornbills in Altamount Road. I don’t remember last when I jumped out of bed with such rapid enthusiasm to watch a video. But when I did play it, my first thought was HORNBILLS IN THE CITY? Could this be real??!
When I finished watching the video – the realization then sunk in, I had been in a self imposed quarantine for nearly 23 days; 30 days counting today. And the fact that those hornbills could stray into the city so freely was – in a way – a reminder, nay, a result of it: this new way of living; humans retreating into the indoors.
But to be honest, even though my life in quarantine is really not so much different from what was my life otherwise – there is a distinctive shift in the way I approach my days now. Like every single day has a tinge of both gratitude and fear to it. Gratitude because there are so many things I am grateful for at a time like this; fear because, with every passing day I feel a little more vulnerable than the previous one.
Some days I love everything about how things are; some days I’m miserable. And while I have polarizing thoughts about the effects of quarantine – just to help myself articulate better, I managed to chalk up 6 things I really like, as a result of quarantine and 5 things I really don’t.
As mentioned in the same order, here are the things I do like about quarantine:
What can I say? Although it’s the most obvious outcomes of this situation considering we are ALL at HOME – the fact that I get to see my parents for every meal, every single day makes me happy. What’s more? Our evening walks with our caretaker’s pup Puggy; our occasional family games; sleeping under the trees and chatting; last Friday night’s BBQ dinner and spending nights looking at the super moon through the telescope.
Ok sure, I won’t go as far to say none of this would have happened if we weren’t living in quarantine, but given these testing times, my parents are trying even harder to keep the whole atmosphere upbeat.
An Overflow of Creativity
If the unending coronavirus memes and GIFs don’t speak for themselves – the amount of songs, jokes, games and activities inspired by life in quarantine should do the trick. What’s more, I personally applaud every content creator, writer and artist who – like my parents – have been working overtime to keep the creativity flowing. Not just for me, but to keep the whole world entertained.
The Extra Cleanliness
It could be in part due to my dad’s paranoia of coronavirus spreading through surfaces, but whatever it is, it did get him to buy every soap and every disinfectant possible and, the best part yet: clean out my room!
The Feeling of Gratitude
Although it is a repeat of what I said before, I have been feeling a lot of gratitude lately. When something as unprecedented as the spreading of a life-threatening virus occurs all over the globe – it gives me perspective of how truly fortunate I am. And although comparing myself to others is in equal parts toxic and necessary – right now, when I do compare, there is so much I am grateful for.
Moreover, with all my extra time I could even start a gratitude journal – something I’ve been wanting to do since the start of this year.
All the Wildlife Sightings
The hornbills were just one of the sightings in a series of many others, where animals ventured into cities while humans stayed locked indoors. None of this verifiable, but these are some of the stories that have been circulating the internet. Starting with my own city: peacocks being spotted in Babulnath, dolphins on marine drive, and my personal favorite: an eastern Kingsnake in my very own home!
As for the rest of the world, Sikka deers were spotted in a temple in Nara, Japan; herds of wild turkeys descended outside an elementary school in West Oakland; monkeys gathered outside a temple in Lopburi, Thailand and raccoons frolicked around the beach of San Felipe.
Whether there is merit to these rumors or not, the truth is, having the chance to see birds and mammals venture into urban areas not only feels like a novelty, but being a Natural Histories buff myself – the idea of the world reclaiming its power and these creatures reclaiming their territory, offers me an inexplicable sense of reassurance.
The Unintended Routine Formation
Ironic as it may be; in the most chaotic of all times, I managed to make myself a little routine. A routine which includes everything I want to do in a day: exercise, writing, planning my Instagram and family time!
What I don’t like about quarantine:
The Bad News
It feels like we are living in a tragedy and someone has put the worst bits on repeat. Like bad news has become a recurring universal theme. Not only has Google dedicated a channel to inform us of the rising number of positive cases and deaths state-wise and country-wise, right on our smartphones. But each and every other news broadcasting channel has something new and awful to report every single day.
And if that’s not bad enough – the stigmatization that follows when someone does test positive makes it even worse.
Incessant WhatsApp Forwards
Although this is an indirect result of quarantine, it actually tops my list of the things I truly hate about it. It’s not enough that the world is practically tethered to news channels and Google Alerts on a daily basis, but to have an inflow of the same bad news via multiple forwards through messages and images on WhatsApp every damn day, takes the cake.
But the madness doesn’t end just there. I get that people are bored at home and are dependent on WhatsApp for any kind of contact or entertainment – but there are better ways to maintain contact and entertain others than sending mindless videos one after another.
Just a couple of days ago I heard my parents whispering that the lockdown may extend till mid May. Then yesterday, the Government did declare that the lockdown would indeed extend till the end of April, for now. Something, I think all of us anticipated.
At the start it feels like it is just a matter of time before this whole thing blows over and everything will go back to normal. But then these medical and economical conspiracy theories start circulating in the background, that’s when the uncertainty starts to build up – as the fate of our future hangs in the balance.
For some people it could be about their jobs, for some about their very existence. I’ve dealt with uncertainty my whole life but I’ve always had a parent or a friend to reassure me. But when the whole world clams under a universal affliction as severe as this – who’s really there to tell us, “it’s all going to be alright”?
There’s no denying that the economic disparity between the rich and the poor in my country has always been wide – but it has never been more apparent than it is now. I’m so privileged: I have a house to escape to, a warm bed to sleep in, hot meals every single day, enough resources to buy enough food for the month; what about those who aren’t? What about the daily laborers whose livelihood depends on each day’s work? Or the population who lives beyond the poverty line?
There are many volunteer programs where you can help, or portals where you can donate, but if you’re not sure of any of those – maybe you can call your house help and ask if she’s alright; if she needs an advance on her salary to buy food. Or better still, next time you go shopping for extra vegetables, oil or pulses, buy little extra for her.
No Chances for Dressing Up
Saved the worst for last. I know it sounds so insignificant in the grander scheme of things; but I miss dressing up, rather I miss the purpose behind dressing up. Sometimes for the heck of it I do dress up to shoot for Instagram, but it’s never the same as dressing up for a real occasion.