Nothing like reaching the half-way point of The Year From Hell to make you stop and think, eh?
The optimist in me likes to think that as we are about to head into the second half of 2020, perhaps things will get better.
And then I look at the grim, daily, ever-increasing Coronavirus figures and my heart sinks.
How much more can we all take? How much more do we all have to endure? And I’m not just talking about the terrible situation here in Delhi, nor the equally terrible situation in India, but the global mess that we are all in.
Some countries are beginning to emerge from the horrors, but many of us are nowhere near that point yet.
Sadly, it’s looking as though the second half of this year will be every bit as dire as the first half.
I was chatting with Himmat this morning, and I asked him if he could remember exactly when we became aware of this virus.
And neither of us could.
We couldn’t remember the exact moment when we went “Oh no, this looks like something pretty terrible”… Amazing, really.
It’s as though we’ve almost forgotten the early days, the pre-lockdown days.
I asked my 2 children if they could perhaps remember the exact moment, but – like us – it’s all a question of general dates.
I know that Coronavirus was already a big deal in China pre Chinese New Year (which was late January) because we heard that the Chinese authorities were clamping down on the annual massive New Year migration, to try and stop the spread of the virus.
We went to Thailand on a bit of a whim on 2 February.
Actually, it wasn’t a whim at all. It’s called being helicopter parents 😛 Both our children were due to be there, so we swooped in…and thank goodness we did, because God alone knows when next we’ll all meet up.
When we flew from Delhi to Bangkok on Feb 2nd, we took face masks and bottles of hand sani with us – and left supplies back here for the Bahadurs, with instructions that they were to be used. We were also roundly criticised for being foolhardy and flying to a country where there was Coronavirus. I think Thailand might have had 1 or 2 cases by then.
Everyone in Thailand was wearing masks, there was hand sani everywhere we went, and the major malls tested our temperature as we entered, but there was nothing like social distancing. We took ferries and the subway, we went to the movies and restaurants, we visited temples, and other than the masks, everything seemed low-key.
I used to head out and run early in Bangkok, listening to the BBC Global News podcast as I ran (as I do here). I certainly remember that there was lots of news about the virus, but it was all confined to China and most reports almost only spoke about Wuhan. Perhaps we all thought at that point that it had been a localised outbreak and was being contained?
When I returned to India in mid-February there was no widespread wearing of masks. No ubiquitous hand sani. But our temperatures were taken on arrival at the airport.
A month later, mid-March, I wrote here that I was nervous about what lay ahead for India, and got roundly criticised by a reader, for voicing my fears.
“7 people have recently recovered in Delhi alone, Coronavirus cases in India are the lowest in the world for any major country. Agencies here are tackling it much better than European countries are.
And Delhi on top of that is the safest of all in this regard, such articles can only create panic rather than helping, sorry to say it but thats true.“
This was mid-March.
A mere 3 1/2 months ago.
India’s infections rates were indeed low at that time, and although some people were starting to wear masks, lockdown hadn’t been imposed, and we were yet to endure the trauma of millions of migrant workers having to walk home.
And now, here we are.
We have terrible Covid-19 infection rates, and as if that isn’t enough, there has been a Chinese incursion into Ladakh, in the Himalayas, resulting in military deaths.
Sabre rattling from the Chinese on our northern borders + this evil virus getting stronger every day.
Right now, I can see no light at the end of this particular tunnel.
I’ll leave it there.
Don’t want to get too gloomy.
All we can do is pray to God, at the end of this utterly miserable half year, that the second half improves.
Stay safe, dear reader.
And wear that mask. Please. For all our sakes.