Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXIX No. 24, April 1-15, 2020

Self-Quarantined and Safe in Chennai

by Seetha Ratnakar

It’s good to be home and be welcomed by a glorious sunrise. Today is the second day of my self-quarantine. We are all going through a dreadful situation right now which is beyond our control. I had to make a difficult choice a few days ago, whether to stay with son and family in New York or come back to Chennai where I live alone. I chose to return because I feel safer here.

I took a direct flight from New York to Delhi and landed at 8.20 pm on March 17th. All the passengers were given self-declaration forms on the flight to be filled in duplicate. As soon as we walked out of the aircraft, there was a line set up for screening. It took a twenty-minute wait for me to get screened. My photograph was taken, and a doctor checked my temperature. I was questioned about my state of health and recent travels. Since I had no symptoms, I was given a pamphlet with preventive instructions and helpline numbers. I was advised to quarantine myself for 14 days. The whole procedure was done with courtesy and care. My declaration was stamped, and I was given a copy which I handed over at immigration. Since only Indian passport holders were travelling, it wasn’t very crowded and the whole process was smooth.

I reached Chennai by mid-morning yesterday and was happy to see that the maid had cleaned the house. The cook had also made fresh food and stocked up on milk and veggies. As soon as I reached, I got a message from my neighbour welcoming me and also informing me that the maids have been advised not to come to my house for the next 14 days to ensure the safety of others. I called a doctor friend who lives in our complex and he too felt that I should avoid contact with people for a fortnight as I may be an asymptomatic carrier.

Initially, I felt a bit sorry for myself as I was exhausted and sleep deprived after the long flight and layover. Soon, I got a call from another neighbour and friend asking me if I needed anything. Even though I didn’t ask for anything, he generously sent over some pav and eggs which were left outside the door. This morning, his wife offered to send me lunch. Today, even the doctor’s wife and my neighbour downstairs offered to send me food. The maids called to apologize, and I assured them that that this is the right thing to do as responsible citizens. My friends offered to shop for me. I realized that I have nothing to worry about as I live in a caring community. I did some stock taking and realized that I can absolutely manage on my own. I ordered groceries from Big Basket, which will be delivered on Sunday.

I don’t plan to step out of the door or have anyone visit me. I am more concerned about the airline and airport employees who are risking their lives everyday, interacting with so many people, while most of us are staying at home to protect ourselves. I am keeping them all in my prayers.

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