The fifth, and most probably last, in the series of quarantine tales from across the world. They include a tale from Israel and my own take on this abnormal time.

First, the story from Jan L in Israel:

We had no supermarket panics, since because of the political situation in the Middle East all the chains have a 6-month supply in their warehouses, and most people have between two weeks and two months worth of supplies in their pantries. (Ordinarily they shop once or twice a week, and stocks are rotated.) The ‘oddity’ was an increased demand for pasta during the week before Passover (when wheat and most other grains aren’t eaten). By the time they needed to restock the shelves after Passover, orders for pasta to restock the warehouses were being filled.

The latest anecdote, since we’re just starting to come out of stay-at-home except for visits to pharmacy and supermarket (primary grades are going back to school in split classes part-time next week; clothing shops and houseware shops are opening; cosmeticians and hairdressers also) but are still observing ‘social distancing’:  Yesterday afternoon there was a commotion in the yard behind our house, and then loud guitars and a few choruses of “Happy Birthday” sung in Portuguese. Our upstairs neighbors teenage daughter was celebrating a birthday and her friends had come to serenade her.

Stay well,

Best,

Jan

 

Jan is one of my readers from my mailing list and kindly offered to share her quarantine story with us. I loved the way she signed off with this cartoon.

“Survive,” indeed!

Sadly, many people did not survive. I found this story one of the saddest I came across during the pandemic. I reproduce part of it from the Guardian newspaper.

An Uber driver has died from Covid-19 after trying to hide his illness for fear that he would be evicted if his landlord found out, a friend has revealed.

Rajesh Jayaseelan, a married father of two who came to London from India about a decade ago, died alone in Northwick Park hospital in Harrow on 11 April, according to Sunil Kumar, a friend of his.

The 44-year-old driver had “starved” for several days in his rented lodgings, telling his wife by phone that he did not want to leave his room because other residents might realise he had Covid-19 and he would be thrown out.

Kumar, 38, an NHS IT worker, said the fear was founded in an experience in March when a previous landlord allegedly ordered him to leave because he thought Jayaseelan, as a minicab driver, would spread the disease to him and his family. Jayaseelan had to sleep in his car for several nights.

You can read the rest of the story here.

Before I move on to my own story, here is a tale sent to me by Ezekiel who lives in Lusaka, Zambia. It’s more a photographic journal than tale as you will see.

From Lusaka, Zambia

#lockdown stories
Been working from home in my ‘modified home office’ – my living room, really, much to the annoyance of my two teenage sons as I have to tell them to turn down the volume on the TV or cut down on their rabble-rousing as I get onto online meetings. Moving around with face masks is no fun for me. I only have it on when among other people, and whip it off as soon as I am alone.

 

Working outside is so peaceful – and gives my boys a chance to watch day time TV…

Trying to keep fit at home

Looking like an outlaw – before I bought a proper face mask

Thank you, Ezekiel for your contribution to this collection of quarantine tales from across the world.

My own story pales into utter insignificance viewed in the context of the suffering endured by many people across the world. May I remind you what my colleague and author Greg Alldredge told us about people starving in India in his guest post.

Before I go on to my personal account, permit me to say a few things in general about this pandemic.

Like many episodes in history, tough times bring out both the good and bad in people. The obvious “heroes” are all those in the medical profession who endure horrific working conditions. Then there is the heartwarming story of Captain Tom Moore, the WW2 veteran, who raised oodles of money for charity. He’s just turned 100 years old.

The “bad” I would suggest, includes powerful politicians playing the blame game. Yes, you guessed – Trump! Some of my friends are supporters of the man. Okay, I get it, but I can’t figure out why many can’t, or don’t wish to, see through him.

He’s a moron, opening his mouth without thinking, conducting policy by way of Twitter (with an overuse of !!!!). I mean, think of him contradicting his own intelligence experts about the original source of the virus; not to mention his stupid remarks about bleach and UV light as a possible cures. These times are difficult for everyone. It’s not the time for stupidity, egos, and blaming China for all the ills in the world (no pun intended).

It’s a time for unity, pulling together as one human race, in an effort to ameliorate the situation followed by (hopefully) a solution. These times are not about nations, or boundaries, or politics. This deadly virus recognizes none of them.

What of the future? I hope some things never return to “normal.” CO² emissions have been drastically cut resulting in clear skies above us and cleaner air. That’s great, but will we have the collective will to ensure we learn the lessons?

Maybe, just maybe, some good will come from these times.

Back to my situation. I’m fine and surrounded by a loving family in the Philippines. We have Extended Community Quarantine until at least May 15.

That means only my wife is allowed out to buy essentials such as food or medicines. It’s a one person per household policy. Seniors and under 20’s are under curfew at all times. Sunday is a total lockdown day. We are managing fine thanks to my wife’s efforts.

We also have fresh vegetables delivered daily by virtue of a local man on his motorbike tricycle. He’s doing a roaring trade. Food deliveries, including takeway food, are permitted as an exemption from the otherwise strict quarantine.

There is no public transport and the schools have been closed for weeks. The boys at home spend much of their time on the computer but do have some home-schooling too. I’m proud of the way they are coping.

My wife’s mother lives with us (not unusual for Filipinos, and this Englishman). We stay connected to other members of the family by way of Facebook Messenger. That includes my wife’s brother, working in Dubai, and her sister working in Manila.The internet is a blessing in these times.

The difficulties I have encountered are not insurmountable, at least for the time being. My denture broke in two while eating some crunchy food. I can’t get it fixed until the end of quarantine so the family are used to seeing my toothy grin. And … there is a liquor ban. I do enjoy my cold beer (or three) every evening in this hot an humid climate but my wife came to the rescue with her local contacts. I’d best say no more 🙂

My 73rd Birthday with my wife and the boys.
The mask is to hide my toothy grin.

Like a lot of bans, they are aimed at the irresponsible but punish everyone who acts with responsibility. The “irresponsible” here are the groups of men congregating to play cards and mahjong with beers at the table. Of course, that means they are breaking quarantine rules. There’s no social distancing and it makes a mockery of the one pass per household rule too. It appears that Cebu is the main place for that problem so no wonder it is a Covid-19 hotspot.

I pass my time writing my books and researching for a future non fiction book. I’m busy. When I relax, I either read, listen to an audiobook, or watch Netflix.

The non fiction book is the true story of an Operation Julie fugitive. I think many readers will find it fascinating. On the subject of Operation Julie, progress with the film based on my book has come to a screeching halt, as the film industry worldwide has come to a full stop owing to the pandemic. The good news is, however, the option has been extended and on improved terms. The last I heard from the production company is they will be making a ‘teaser reel’ to induce people to invest in the project. I also heard Sony Pictures have seen the script and are excited about it. We will see.

The Operation Julie documentary will also inevitably be delayed despite the funding agreed upon by Netflix and the UK’s Channel Four.  Back to more mundane matters:

Our Android box stopped working so I’m watching Netflix on my smartphone … not good, but better than nothing. I have ordered a new streaming stick but no idea when that may be delivered, as there is no mail, and hasn’t been since the beginning of April.

My Netflix viewing was Money Heist, but now I’m on Outlander. Different, but both enjoyable.

The irritations are small, really. We are well, healthy, fed, and happy. Thank God! We do thank God too. Every day.

I’m also hoping the English Premier League will resume soon. I know health is the priority but health is also inclusive of mental health. Sport, along with other leisure activities (for me – reading and Netflix), help keep one sane by acting as a distraction from life’s realities.

Besides, as lifetime Liverpool Football Club fan, surely we can’t be denied the title this season after waiting such a long time.

That’s it. Stay safe! #StayAt Home

 

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