Living in Barcelona, ​​I was able to see first-hand how quickly Covid-19 changed our lives: Shriya Saran

I have been locked up in Barcelona for almost a month. It's surreal how drastically things have changed around me since Covid-19 first hit us. Living in Spain, one of the most affected countries, I was able to see first-hand how quickly this virus changed our lives. Life was very different just a few weeks ago. Everything changed on March 13, when Andrei (husband) and I went out to celebrate our anniversary, unperturbed by the coronavirus . We had made a reservation, but when we got to the restaurant, we saw that it was closed. It was then that we realized that things are really serious; all of Spain was under lockdown. From then on, everything changed. The police passed a rule allowing only one person per household to step out and that too only if absolutely unavoidable. In fact, Andrei and I were once stopped by the cops but since he is white and I’m brown, they didn’t realize we were together, so they let us go.

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Gradually, the severity of the situation hit home as we began to read more about the pandemic . To make matters worse, Andrei began to develop a dry cough and fever. We rushed to a hospital but the doctors were overwhelmed and urged us to leave. “Chances are that even if he doesn't have Covid-19, he will get it if he stays here,” the doctors told us. So we decided to go home and self-isolate ourselves and get treatment at home. We slept in different rooms and maintained a safe distance from each other. Thankfully, he's feeling better now, so I hope the worst is behind us.

pg1_shriya2 Staying locked up in one place is frustrating and I try to keep myself busy, with yoga, meditation, cooking, reading, watching. films - To distract me from things. But no matter what, at 8pm every day, everyone goes out to their balconies , clap and sing together. For about 10 minutes, everyone is united and that is beautiful. It fills us all with that much-needed positivity in these difficult times.

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Though things are getting better here, I miss India. I don’t know when I’ll be able to come home again. My parents are in Mumbai and I’m constantly on video-call with them. My mum has shared some of her recipes and I’ve learnt to make them. But now I’m running out of spices and garam masala, so I’m worried that I won’t be able to eat desi food soon. My problems though are trivial compared to the sufferings many have had to endure due to the pandemic . Thousands have lost their jobs, many are stranded alone in hostels, away from their loved ones and several people don’t have a roof over their heads. So when we light a candle every night or clap from our balconies , we must keep them in our thoughts too, and if we can, we should do something for them.

This pandemic will change the way we look at environment. People now realise a lot of work can be done from home and a lot of meetings can be done over the phone or email. The people out on the streets will reduce. I’d give anything to just go to the beach, go diving or watch a dance performance — to just be out in the open. I think we will have greater appreciation for things we’ve always taken for granted. It’s a long road back to normalcy, but when all this is over, we will hopefully have a better world.

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