Unkindness

This situation is something of an analogy.

Manjula was the kindest person I’ve probably ever met yet she’d be let down badly by people throughout her life.

I also try to be kind and considerate and I’m beginning to realise it doesn’t work well when others are insensitive, thoughtless, can’t appreciate the ‘other’ and are ultimately unkind. I know, I know I’m a naive 63 year old.

I’m now isolated, in quarantine at home, the street is blocked by fencing on either side of my house, the washing machine is disconnected, I’m unable to shop. Lucie is confused and I can’t walk her. I’m disrupted.

Sowbhagya who works for me is also in a difficult situation quarantined with a sticker on her door confined to a postage stamp house separated from her son.

On the positive side I am in a comfortable home, received home deliveries, stocked up the freezer, Lucie is a street girl and can figure things out. I am extremely fortunate, there are people in terrible situations and have been for months. I should complain less and be sensitive to their situation.

This situation is however completely unnecessary and could have been avoided with a little thought and care.

Two weeks ago the owner asked if they could use the downstairs house for a couple of months. I readily agreed as we have no guests in the current situation. I use it but can manage. There’s one of me and counting the ground and first floor house it’s four bedrooms, library, two lounges you know the sort of thing. Help others, share it out.

The five members of family: grandparents, parents and daughter were living in an apartment in Bangalore and were concerned about the increase in the spread of the virus. At least one of them has underlying health conditions, and the elderly are from a vulnerable group. Once we discussed a few conditions primarily about looking after my stuff and complications about shifting the washing machine plus getting confirmation this was a temporary arrangement (many of my friends were suspicious it was a con to get back the houses) but I checked that one out specifically.

It was a hard thing to do emotionally. Manjula died a year ago. This is our home. She moved and properly set up the Mysore Bed and Breakfast when we took over the downstairs house around eight years ago. But I could so I should help. They could exclusively have the downstairs house with me and Lucie upstairs, separate entrances etc.

They moved in ten days ago.

The adult son of the owner who I deal with now informed me after six days, he’d been tested positive for coronavirus and would go into isolation in hospital.

The rest of the family and I were tested the next day. It seems that the only one other who tested positive was his daughter and she’s now with him in hospital.

Of course it’s just one of those things we have to deal with the best we can, everyone around the world has the same challenges. However, we’ve spent almost three months in lockdown being careful not to get the virus. That care paid off as we’ve had no cases in our layout Siddarthanager, until now, that is.

Now we have what seems to be a completely avoidable situation. Were they suspicious that they might be carrying the virus? Probably, otherwise, why go for a test the day after arriving?

If there was a suspicion a test should have been taken before shifting from Bangalore or gone to their isolated rural farmhouse rather than completely disrupting our lives.

It’s a practical problem but was quite an emotional pull letting them use the house. Manjula’s room was downstairs and for her last few months we created a lovely set up for her. This was her place I was letting go. I’d asked for her picture, the one on which we’d placed flowers every day for a month and then every month to be left on the wall. I discovered they’d taken it down and stuffed it in my storeroom down there. It’s now upstairs with five other pictures of her so maybe a bit over-the-top.

It’s now reflected, when I said at the beginning, kindness met by at the very least insensitivity, to me and my situation and to Manjula even after she’s gone. People don’t care for others enough.

The world is in a sorry state, we just don’t care. The virus, climate change and our responses are actually symptoms of that malaise.

Test form

Here’s my coronavirus test form. The name’s wrong but that’s to be expected, it’s listed that I have symptoms when I don’t (a contact, my neighbour, tested positive so that’s why I’m here) and I had throat and nasal swabs, again not properly indicated on the form.

We’ve not been informed when the results will come through.

I’ve now discovered that my neighbours samples were originally lost so it was almost a week before he got his positive results and taken to hospital.

Our testers with biohazard suits.

Virus 5

On your own in lockdown? Who do you talk to?

First and foremost MAnjula. In the morning, last thing at night and as I write, aspects of her story. This is her favourite colour and one of her chosen flowers. It’s on of five crore and one memories. Roses were for specific events such as birthdays or just to say I love you. Yes, me, fab.

On solo lockdown I’m here walking with Lucie who together with the crows and squirrel in the tree by my balcony are my feathered furry friends.

I’ll say hello to neighbours and pass the time of day but my closer friends are further away. I get regular calls and emails to check I’m OK

Zoom and FaceTime are of course essential. Particularly to be in touch with daughter-in-law (aka family lubricant) and sons Ol and Ben. Oh and of course my granddaughter when she has time in her busy life and is telling me to wait. 🙃🙂😉☀️☝️

Don’t forget the plants

Or create an entertaining video about the very subject.

Or see how untouchability serves this new situation and helps create a new other

Virus 4

I’m sitting on the balcony with the early morning sun shining through.

Lucie and I are back from our first walk of the day. We stopped and chatted to one of our neighbours who has husband and son at home. They’re not bored, using the time constructively connecting via the net and playing music.

As with anything else the level of awareness and understanding makes such a big difference. People just don’t understand the situation and what to do. I could fall into an easy trap and say eduction helps people understand and act. But we know it’s only partially true. Manjula was a great example of someone who was incredibly aware, in my terms. …’together’ with little if any education. She couldn’t read or write but was so clever, witty, linguist, who was a great connector, wise and SMART. Am I showing my bias again?

I have my breakfast of fruit, muesli and tea here waiting I’d just nipped out to give a poor older woman walking past a small token. I do sometimes amend my own rules. I notice a group of men having a chat on a street corner having parked their two wheelers. They have absolutely no idea of what it means to maintain distance. One has a mask on so it’s alright then, not much use by the way. Education? Awareness? Haven’t the first idea? How in any situation can we engage people’s hearts and minds? Enable them to make good decisions with their own and everyone’s interests at heart? Tall order

The city corporation have sealed off one of the parks, we have three close by. Here’s the sign notifying people.

The announcement of the lockdown was on the 23rd and came into effect on the 24th (the one day curfew was the 22nd). The sign posted on the 25th closed the park on the 21st….. doh.

Breakfast. I’m desperate Dan…..

Next, maybe managing Lucie’s boredom and my hypochondria

Virus 3

Curfew

we had one for a day yesterday then made some noise to recognise the people who are invaluable in providing support

we’re now entering a proper period of isolation

gora (aka whitey)

I’ve now had one or two incidents of looks, avoidance and neighbour calling the kids in as Lucie and I walked past. We’ll give the benefit of the doubt and assume they were worried by the dog. They’ve known us over nine years. Another example of how easy it is to polarise and create distance from the ‘other.’

of course the fact is that the risk of getting the virus here is mainly from returning Indians, the holidaying foreigners have mostly gone. A whiteness label helps feed prejudice

Manjula’s death anniversary  

most ideas have been deferred to August when we’ll celebrate her birth and life

today I’m cycling around Mysore with her and keeping a safe distance from anyone

being careful 

I’m  washing my hands carefully. This is according to Manjula’s high standards: lather the soap, Thoroughtly wash backs, fronts, between fingers, nails, wrists, up arms. A MAnjula finishing touch was to rinse the tap Before turning it off. She did this religiously over our nine years together  

My problem is, first thing after my hand wash I write my daily pages my creative journal thing but I get the pages wet and the ink runs.

Why?

My bracelets are wet through.

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What should I do?

stop being a wus

i think we can see that on the scale of things (fingers crossed) that I’m managing this virus thing quite easily. Not that it hasn’t been an awful year because of losing my love and if MAnjula was here with her condition I’d be the proverbial Panicking worrying headless chicken.

It brings home to me how fortunate I am and how people around the world living from hand to mouth already have such hard times which are exacerbated in these terrible circumstances.

Virus update 2

16th March ish

Canada

my son Oliver and partner Rachael live and work in Vancouver. In some ways they are typical millennials with a portfolio of different jobs. Their jobs vary but might all be considered ‘casual’. They are in the service industries: fitness, restaurants, guiding tours. All are affected as things close down. If there’s no work, there’s no pay. They might just about get by for a couple of weeks but what about medium and long term?

The risk and therefore the cost is more likely to be covered by the individual rather than the company or society.

There are many people in this situation. There’s a good argument for a minimum guaranteed income.

Imagine what it’s like for poor people in India and elsewhere. Check here

in India we have a curfew day with minimal testing. It’s just not good enough  

SB has the week off on full pay which will be extended

My plans

are currently on hold. Eric was going to look after Lucie and the house while I was away for three months. He’s now back in the US under the instructions of his scholarship funders

Otherwise I’m at home or walking Lucie 

in the U.K.

at last they’re catching up …… there are clear cases of over reaction and hysteria, this is when we need the wartime posters to keep calm and carry on. Oh and learn from the Indian communities, use water and NOT toilet paper.