Before I get into a blow-by-blow detail of my days in necessary isolation, let me share a little background on the baggage I carried with me into these 14 days. I was in the middle of my MBA in Paris when the emergence of COVID-19 turned our lives around. Starting mid February, things started escalating in Europe, and by March, things had really hit the roof. With an increasing number of reported cases, Paris was put on lockdown. Classes and events were getting suspended and the dean asked us to return home. I was in my second term at HEC and was looking forward to some exciting times ahead with attending business and leadership treks to Chamonix, Berlin and experiencing spring in Paris! This was supposed to be my year in Europe, learning and developing more, however before I knew it, everything came to a sudden halt. I know the world is dealing with bigger issues today, but there are times when I feel sad looking back at this situation. The issue with self-isolation is that it gives you a lot of time to think and self-reflect.
I arrived home (Ahmedabad) on March 17th. Considering my parents are in their 50s and my grandmother is 80, I could not take the risk of infecting them. I went straight to my room, which was going to be my quarantine abode for the next 14 days. I was given my meals in my room in a plate separately used for me. I took all the precautions to wash my own utensils and clothes to ensure there was no contact of any kind with me or my things. The only conversation I had with my parents in-person was standing at a 5-feet distance across the hall.
Eat Sleep House-Party Repeat!
I know every social media influencer and self-help guru out there is talking about maintaining productivity levels during this period of quarantine. However it truly is easier said than done. I was trying to move from France-time back to India-time but I found that increasingly difficult in the absence of much physical exertion or mental exhaustion. On most days, I would lie awake till 3am worrying about when I will be able to complete my MBA, and how I will find a job in these times of economic downturn. This was a completely unprecedented disruption in my life-plans and I was still coming to terms with finding the right way to handle it.
I didn’t have a plan in mind to get through these 14 days. I wanted to get back to my exercise regime, read more, study more and learn new skills. However, I pretty much ended up relying on the vices of our digital age – Instagram, WhatsApp, House Party, Quiz Up, Ludo, Netflix Party, Zoom and a ton of old-fashioned TV viewing. Fortunately, we have a beautiful garden and I was able to take some evening strolls on the days I had some energy. The feeling of loneliness usually hit me in the evenings because my day had gone by and I really did not have much to look forward to even the next day.
The One with F.R.I.E.N.D.S
I found a lot of solace in my daily video calls to my family, partner, and friends all over the world. Another thing that helped fill the void was food! I was happy to be back to home cooking and on many days, I gave into midnight snacking and ice-cream cravings.
Don’t Try This At Home
So 5 days into quarantine, I woke up super energised, ready to start my exercise regime on my way to becoming fit-and-fab. I decided to put on some MTV beats music on my TV to motivate myself and I began my jumping exercises and started dancing like a mad person. Next thing I see – Tiger Shroff is killing it to ‘I am a Disco Dancer’ and flying and jumping on the screen. Inspired, and considering I did kick-boxing for a year in 2016, I decided to test how I can kick. It turned out I sucked because I completely misread my aim and banged my foot into the door. What ensued was a big cut with blood splashing all over. Fortunately I called my mom before I started seeing stars and blacked out. Water and some medical aid helped and I pretty much limped around for the next 2 days. Who says you can’t hurt yourself sitting in a room?
Happiness can be found in the darkest of times… only if one remembers to switch on the light!
My online classes started soon and with exams approaching, I was forced to keep myself mentally occupied with studying. As hard as I found going back to studying after 4 years of working, in these times, the only thing that felt normal was taking my exams. I am still scouting for internships, and connecting with more people in the hope that all will be good soon. My foot is better and I am doing an April fitness challenge with my friends that forces me to workout everyday. I am more at peace with all that has changed and I believe I am slowly adapting. While I still worry, I think I am focusing more on the present and trying to take everything one day at a time. I also believe that hardships bring people closer. I feel a new found solidarity with the world around me as everyone is coping in their own way.
After 15 days, I ended my quarantine today and was finally able to regain access to the rest of the house and sit with my family and talk. I wish I could have run wild, hugging everyone but social distancing is the new norm. I had my first meal with my family since I came back and it has largely been a good day! Happiness comes in small bouts. Quarantine is a physical state but isolation is a state of mind. Stay happy and connected even when in quarantine!
By Stuti Bhatia