This has been a really tough time for most of us, being under house arrest for literally four months! The initial few weeks were spent being terrified of this unseen enemy, the Novel Coronavirus. How could this invisible virus wage a World War III sort of war against the entire world! Lockdown, stay home, social distancing, masks, no one from outside allowed into our homes! Do everything yourself, cook, clean, wash, the works. At first it seemed like a novelty trying out new recipes, doing all the housework, and watching loads of films on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Soon it started getting to the most resilient of us, since the news on TV got more dismal by the day. Each day the number of Covid positive cases seemed to go up as did the number of people who succumbed to this deadly disease.
Anyway, for most Bandraites this has been a very trying time since many of their weekly favourite activities have more or less been cancelled….no parties, live concerts, eating out, or religious congregations. Thankfully lots of people have started exercising, so joggers and walkers can be found on Pali Hill, Carter Road and the Bandstand promenade. However, at 7 pm, the police come around to shoo people away as there is a curfew between 7 pm and 6 am. Still, we in Bandra are lucky as we are able to get all provisions and other essentials, and even our beloved bakeries American Express and Candies are open! One positive during this prolonged lockdown has been that home delivery of all sorts of goodies is thriving, and this is a real boon, especially being able to buy farm fresh vegetables as these now come in vans directly to many Bandra buildings.
Another “rainbow” seems to be the Environment, everything is so clean, the air, the sea, the vegetation and the Monsoon rain has ensured that it stays that way for a while at least. There is greenery all around, the flowering trees and shrubs are in bloom, and the sky is dramatic with clouds of every hue, and sometimes a stunning sunset too! We have all tried to engage ourselves with watching the many free plays and concerts that have been available online, stay in touch with loved ones and friends through zoom calls and WhatsApp messages. These have certainly proved to be stress busters for most people.
I have been singularly lucky, as early in May a dear friend whom I have known since the age of ten, started a WhatsApp group of our school friends from Shillong. This has been a most refreshing experience. Fifty years later, about a dozen of us have connected during these stressful times even though we are all scattered across the globe now…America, Canada, UK, Sweden, Australia, Bangladesh, Assam and Bombay. It has been thrilling to read about the many exploits of the “Lovelies” in our group, for that’s what the group is called…the “Loreto Lovelies”, as we were all together in Loreto Convent, Shillong.
From reading about one person’s enthralling escape from Kuwait at the time of the Iraqi invasion, to another’s adventures in Maracaibo, Venezuela during the coup by General Chavez, and someone else’s family’s trek to Assam from Burma since they were being tortured by Japanese troops during World War II, every waking day brings surprises from the Lovelies! It is fascinating to read about the phenomenon of The Midnight Sun, courtesy our group member from Sweden, and about their journey through the Silk Route and Samarkand from other friends on this group. Also I have got to learn so much about Assamese and Khasi traditions from the ladies who still live in Assam. Equally thrilling has been to learn about the background of a friend, who now lives in Australia. Her family were Lithuanian Jews, that came to India before the Second World War, and her father set up a dental practice in Shillong! So many of the students in the school came from Bangladesh, and an equal number from the tea gardens, so to read their inputs and about their experiences is totally engrossing. Also our shared love for Nature and flowers, has been most enervating! Being in touch with this group on a daily basis has certainly been one of the “rainbows” in my life during this lockdown!