Braving the lockdown: Silicon city family in Kerala

Braving the lockdown: Silicon city family in God's Own Country

It was an unusually busy week before the lockdown, even without the commute. I had been working from home for a week, while my spouse's workplace was still debating the option. The cook had gone back to his village. 

My child’s school had been off for the past week. His exams had to be taken online. We decided to drop him off at our in-laws place in Kannur and return in two days. We hoped that instead of staying indoors all day, he would have more space to move around at the spacious suburban home.

In view of the impending Janata Curfew on Sunday, we drove to Kannur on Saturday. We carried food and water from home and skipped our customary breakfast stop at Kamat hotel, one of the few restaurants on the Mysore highway that was still open. When we neared Kerala, we weren’t sure we would be let in, as we had read about the borders being sealed. We found that authorities were checking the body temperature of travellers and noting down details of incoming vehicles and passengers. 

We entered our details as well. There wasn’t as much traffic. People using the wash basins to wash their hands at bus stops was a promising sight..

After reaching Kerala, we were dismayed to find that the Karnataka government had announced a lockdown till March 31 for several districts, including Bengaluru. 

The next day, we thought of taking our chances at the border. An ominous line of cars greeted us at the Makuta Checkpost. The border security had received orders to close the border at 4 pm on Sunday, with only supply and emergency vehicles allowed to go through. 

We tried showing our Aadhar cards and passport with the Bangalore address and Karnataka licence plate of the car but the guys didn’t budge. We hung around for sometime, since we had nothing better to do. We ate the breakfast that my mother-in-law had packed for the road. On the other side, there were people with suitcases. We wondered if they walked through the border or if they were turning back. 

The guard told us to turn back. There was no way we were making it through the multiple checks enroute to Bengaluru.

We turned around. We were lucky to have a couple of pairs of clothes and our laptops. Unlike many others at the border, at least we had a home to go back to. We thought we could make it through the next eight days, provided we could get a better internet connection. All Airtel stores in Kannur seemed to be shut. After a bit of furious googling for dongles and portable hotspots, my husband decided to go to the BSNL office to upgrade our home connection. 

That evening, on television, we watched Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan addressing the state in his customary way, laying down every detail of the Covid-19 situation in the state. We felt good about how well things were managed in Kannur. There wasn't any panic at grocery stores. You wrote down what you need on paper and paid when you received the items.

But our hearts sank when we heard that outsiders in Kerala needed to self-quarantine at home. For the next 14 days, there was no stepping out onto the green by-lanes of Pallikunu, or we risked police action.

Denied our customary run, the next morning, my husband decided to explore the first-floor balcony for an app-based workout. I had heard of the Frenchman who ran a marathon on his balcony. So I decided to give this a try on the short driveway between the gate and the porch.

I started running on the driveway and soon, a policeman passed by. Any thoughts of running outside the gate disappeared. I continued: a series of short bursts of acceleration, deceleration and U-turns. My spouse dropped by to tell me I was crazy. I keep on running, thinking of all the food that was wasting away in my fridge and the plants on the balcony that would soon be dead. After an hour of running, I was drenched in sweat but all was well with the world. 

Of course, that very evening, PM Modi announced the 21-day lockdown and we heard the news about the queues at grocery stores in Bangalore. But we still had two sets of our clothes and laptops, in a land far away. Hopefully, we are all set to brave this lockdown. 

(Shilpi Sahu is a techie, marathoner, SWM advocate and ambassador, all rolled into one)

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