Tuesday 24 March 2020

Life in Indian lockdown

Hello again from my sunbed. There’s been a lot of screen time from this particular sunbed, as Goa is still in lockdown. My iPhone doesn’t know what the hell is going on. 

We are very fortunate to have rented a beach front hut - it means we have the balcony, and the space in front of the huts to call our own. We have two sunbeds there, and a small table. We have been taking our daily meals here, and alternating between baking in the sun and locking ourselves in the aircon hut. 

As there are only 6 of us here most of the time (3 staff, Bertie, myself, and our neighbour, Joe) I have taken this opportunity to try and tan the bits of me that are currently brilliant white. This includes my belly and my arse. I’m alternating between front and back like a rotisserie chicken, slowly getting more brown/burnt as the days go on. I keep pulling my knickers right up my bum to get my cheeks brown, but have to keep pulling them out like a wedgie whenever anyone walks past. 10/10 class. I’m representing England well. 

We took the first lock down in our stride - in India this is called the Janata Curfew - it runs from 7am to 9pm. During this time, nothing is open. No shops. No pharmacies. No restaurants. I believe in the big cities they have some government run vegetable and fruit shops open. We have not had that luxury here in the small village we live in. 

But, as we were given warning, we went out and bought rolls, tins of tuna, mayo, crisps, Oreos and water. We were all set for our lock down day - all of this prep was completely unnecessary as our hut is based in a restaurant and we’d been assured they wouldn’t let us starve. But hey, we’re British and apparently panic buying is totally in vogue right now. 

Can’t even tell you the joy I felt when I realised that the tuna here is called BLUNA. I don’t know why. It bought me endless joy. Cabin fever perhaps. 

Also, if I’m totally honest, I ate all my Oreos in bed the night before the lockdown began. Rationing is not my forte. Although to be fair, Bertie also ate all the crisps. We are so weak. 

The day of lockdown was actually totally fine, we spent the day with our neighbour (confined to our balconies to observe the 2 metre rule) and spent the day sharing stories and songs. (This also included playing for everyone else the “top three songs of your life” - in case you were wondering mine were Train: Drops of Jupiter, Newton Faulkner: If this is it and Chainska Brassika: Summer Dubbin.)

(I introduced the Newton Faulkner song by saying “this is the most special song that has two memories attached to it, about Bertie and I” - and Bertie guessed two other songs, before I gave him the clue that it was the song I walked down the aisle to; he still didn’t know.) 

We also planned to have a bit of a party at the end of the lock in - we had planned in advance and bought some spirits and snacks, and we all gathered around a table chatting in a myriad of languages. It was lovely, if a little awkward, and best of all I got to learn “mother fucker” in Indian. Every cloud. 

However at 9pm it was announced that the lockdown was due to continue for another three days. 

Obviously, we are in India, and as a result we are governed by Indian rule. Fine. Totally fine. But I would have liked a little more notice, if I’m honest. I’d run out of Oreos and my neighbour had run out of cigarettes. Crisis was upon us. Also, on a serious note; the restaurant was not prepared for catering for 3 more days. Things felt a little more tense. 

Bertie and I took some melatonin to try and sleep most of the first day away. That was quite successful, with us not rising until 11, but we quite quickly became increasingly aware of our small space. We were very fortunate to just be opposite the sea, so as much as possible I swam back and forth to try and tire myself out. 

Around 2pm Joe had the bright idea to go and visit his friend who he knows owns a shop. Long story short, Santa Joe arrived half an hour later with his Christmas sack, bringing with him fresh bottled water, crisps, Oreos(!!!) dried crackers and a magnum! 

I’ve never been so happy to see a packet of biscuits in my life. 

We have decided to try and make the best of the situation by going around the world using the menu. We had curry on the first night (obviously,) Italian last night, and I reckon tonight might just be Chinese. We’ve got enough cuisines on the menu to last us 5 nights. Then we’ll have to start all over again. Don’t ask me about how Indians make an enchilada. I haven’t done it yet, and I’m hoping it doesn’t get to that.

We have now got two separate flights booked home, with two different airlines. Qatar finally got back to me this morning with the most generic copy and paste message (in which they’ve genuinely written “Dear customer” - CUSTOMER? Could you get any more generic as a copy and paste answer?)

Anyway, they are advising me to call them or to log on and change my flight if I so wish - every time I have called them, it hasn’t worked (and I have called the Doha centre, the Indian centre and the UK centre) and when we log online to change our flight, the only option we are given is to cancel. So, as always, Qatar are continuing to be fucking useless. 

I emailed them back to let them know that. They’ll probably reply in another two weeks or so. 

We have also booked a second flight home with BA, so fingers crossed one of those flights will get us home. Probably. It’s still over a week and a half away. 

Until then I’m just going to keep doing my rotisserie chicken impression and hope the shops open soon. I hope you’re all doing okay back home. It sounds pretty bleak where you are. 

Don’t worry, I’ll bring some loo roll back. Xx

No comments: