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Published: March 28th 2020
About 2 weeks ago, I began writing about our time in Goa and the odd transition to the nunnery, as India began it’s decent into Corona Hell. I imaged I could provide a short escape for you from the daily stress of getting sick, running out of supplies or losing your job/money during this horrific time.
I’ll leave those initial thoughts here before I join the rest of you in grief and worry…
Upon arriving in India, I realized it turns out taylor is a completely normal, average person…when we left the airport in Mumbai and jumped into a taxi (driven by a woman…both inspiring in India and terrifying, she was a horrible driver!) he said “whats that smell?” Has there ever been a person, ever, to react differently?!!!
Social Distancing is easy in a Nunnery where all other residents have strict, study schedules. Taylor and I were asked not to be late for lunch again, when we returned from a walk half an hour after our private lunch was delivered! We eat the food prepared for the nuns, but at our guest house kitchen table. It’s irrelevant when we eat, but
sticking to a schedule seems essential to the function of a 200+ community of nuns living on a small campus. It’s just another example of how little the Corona Virus seems to be affecting life here. In the bigger pictures, India has officially closed to tourism and schools are closed and today (mid march) the nunnery closed its doors to all visitors. We’re the only guests left. But day-to-day life for those already in the adjacent village, is unchanged. Shops are open, kids play in the streets and everywhere Taylor goes people try to touch him! Whether it’s a handshake or they reach out for his face (a cheek pinch is like a blessing when done to a child!) all seem confused when I pull him away and say “no touching!”
Ironically, I have been washing my hands like a germaphobe for 2 weeks straight, because taylor contracted impetigo! A hippie British mom didn’t think to mention her daughter was severly contagious and after a day at the beach, Taylor developed 2 distinct patches on his arm. I’m unsure how I came out of this unscathed, but despite not being worrying about the C-virus, I’ve still gone
through abnormal amounts of soap and moisturizer! At least it wasn’t lice…although my friend without kids caught it and we did a natural treatment anyways! I don’t want a repeat of last year!!
Before the impetigo fiasco, Goa days were slow. The heat requires slow movements and little activity. A mini adventure for us was a walk down the main street to get an ice cream or popsicle, as much a motivator to leave the cool apartment for me as taylor! We stayed in a different place this year, just down the road, a much closer walk to our chosen kid-friendly beach area. Which meant this year, taylor walked. Sometimes he even carried his own beach toys. It’s the little things that make each trip unique! When we first arrived, he looked over our balcony and said “why is it so dirty here?” our backyard is a landfill, that regularly attracts cows, pigs and buffalo. It’s clear his sense of smell is hightened this year!
And that’s where I left off..and don’t have the will to fill you in on a month’s worth of Goa time. We left there as scheduled, which seems like
one of the few decisions I made that wasn’t a complete failure, as today Goa is deserted. In the heat, beachgoing is against curfew so we’d be stuck inside, without transport to far away grocery stores.
And now…2 weeks later. I lost all free time and abandoned this blog, until today. We left the nunnery 8 days ago and have been in a private guest house, in a safe space with a private kitchen for 7 days. The few days surrounding moving here were complete hell. I’ve never experienced so much inconsistency and turbulence in my emotions. If you can imagine…even when what’s-his-name unexpectedly walked out! Hey at least I haven’t though about him in 2 weeks!
With each moment of relief, at having overcome an obstacle, a scarier one presented itself. With each one, the knots in my stomach grew tighter. Each day a yoga practice managed to calm me, was met with a setback. India is on day 4 of total lockdown and the village we’re in is no different. It began with border closings and warnings of market closures. Then locals grew weary of renting their rooms. This was day 1. Prior to
Often old, broken things are just left to rot
this, the only difference here was a slightly slower tourist season. By day 2, locals were threatening to throw out foreigners already staying. Most don't have proper government registration. so while they were not assuming every foreigner would bring the virus, they were worried the police would find out they illegally rent rooms. Day 3, curfews are imposed, police are scanning the streets and questioning whether tourists had health certificates stating they showed no symptoms and day 4 McLeod Ganj became a ghost town. Only the police wander the streets. Some days, even the grocery stores don’t open. The ones that do, have limited supplies. It’s not the mentality to hoard here but even if desired, the supplies wouldn’t allow for it. Those few days that rules were imposed, were the days I was scrambling to find a safe room for us, with a private kitchen...this is not the time to share cooking tips or cutlery. Ever local I knew in Dharamkot, where most guest houses are private, could not help me. I booked and cancelled one Air bnb after another (who even knew this small town in India had that!) just to get phone numbers from people who then
Visiting our neighbours
Lovely couple who spoke No English! He still managed to play with them
said government officials would not let them rent. Day 3 I found us a great place and ran out to buy supplies and take out money. for about an hour, I relaxed, while unpacking our whole lives, setting up a new kitchen and frantically wiping down every surface Taylor approached. And turbulence still found me.
Today I realize, although some of the uncomfortable feeling in my body is due to wondering whether we will eat as well as we should to keep our bodies healthy in this time, I know we won’t starve either. Despite locals in some Indian towns being scared all foreigners are carriers, locals here are kind and helpful. Some of the hosts who refused to let us stay, check in every so often. My landlords already do my grocery shopping so I don’t have to go out. They will continue to take care of us. But as I find moments of silence to sit and breathe (since it’s not like I can do anything or go anywhere!!) I realize the majority of the reason for that pit in my throat, is grief. We travelled all the way here, made it within 1 km
We ran every time we heard his bell, coming down the street delivering fresh bread daily
of my happy, healthy place and it’s unlikely we will set foot in the Himalayan mountains I crave. I cannot get any Ayurvedic treatments or meet my Ayurvedic Doctor/friend. Taylor has been talking since last May about his “favorite man in McLeod Ganj”. We are metres away from the shop he longs to play in, with a man who’s name I don’t even know! It’s unlikely he’ll spend time in that place he’s been dreaming of. All of this pales in comparison to becoming infected with this debilitating disease. I know everyone in the entire world is experiencing their own grief at this moment. We have all lost something. And I know taylor and I will have other chances to hike in the mountains or eat that glorious chocolate mousse I luckily had once before Tenzin closed her bakery!! But today I grieve. For both our losses.
I’m angry at myself for things beyond my control, it makes no sense but somehow it feels as though I have been making decisions forgetting I am no longer a lone traveler. It's a form of survival mode I'm unfamiliar with. I’m grateful everyday to have taylor with me, yet
I now realize I have not been prioritizing his needs. It was scary to risk traveling on a 15 hour flight with him during a contagious pandemic, but if I’m honest, a little part of me felt we could just take our little walks and wait it out here. I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. Of course I could not have known india would be the only country to take the same extreme measures China adopted, but had I stopped to think about it, I’m aware India is not the democracy Canadians live. I know mobs take control of what they believe the police ignore. I know mob mentality allows groups of men to beat a single person they believe has done wrong. I’ve always felt safe as a foreigner here, but it’s not a place I want to be should taylor or I get sick.
So that wasn’t much of a corona break! Please reach out and share your C-virus experience if you’d like. Aside from our little time outside these days, we are mostly chilling in our box, happy to see a familiar face on facetime. Oh I think I just got why
they called it facetime.
Stay safe, healthy and most importantly STAY INSIDE
To not end on such a negative note...here are some of the Taylor quotes I wrote down pre stress-filled days!
"oh, my hair is curly here!"
"I like it when I have only you and me" talking to me, obviously! sorry mom
"at home I was really hot, and now in the ocean i'm cooled off!"
Taylor talks to all the animals: "how did you get there doggie?" and "come here catty, I want to play with you" and "watch out cow, a car is coming" and "Cow, can I pet you?" that one did NOT end well!
"mommy, why do you take pills if you're not sick? as I take my daily dose of vitamins and crohn's meds
"every city is the same and different"
T: "what will they do with those leaves?" me: they'll burn them T: "but then the leaves will cry"
And incase you're worried for me, don't be. I wanted to share my feelings...because I do that now. Amidst the turbulence are wonderful playful moments with the
most precious thing in my life. He is such a gift. We are in one of the safer spots in India and I am working at keeping Taylor carefree-ish, keeping us healthy and also enjoying this time completely alone together. Aside from some tv...yes he watches that now and no I don't feel guilty about it.
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