Monday, March 30, 2020

Theme Reveal - #AtoZchallenge - Travel Stories from Across the World

I can safely say that me and the Boy have traveled far and wide. In our 11 years of marriage, we have covered 34 countries together. Not that I am counting, I just love to keep track… in my dedicated excel sheet!!

So, for the 2020 A to Z blogging challenge, I have decided to write something about the places we have traveled to. I will write about the stories from those places rather than what I saw. My dad asked me once - every place has the same mountains and lakes, why do you like to travel so much? To this I replied – I travel for the experiences. It keeps me motivated to stay healthy. I see, I feel, and that’s how I learn.

We are a child-free couple living in the Middle East, more specifically, in the Kingdom of Bahrain. We moved here in 2009, three months after getting married. We both were 26 at the time. Having grown up in a business family of the 90’s, I never had a yearning to do a corporate job. That, and a rare form of muscular weakness always kept me from going out and working. I kept writing bits and pieces, made a comfortable home for the two of us, researched on investments (I have a finance degree!!), and extensively planned all our travels.

We both love to explore new places. Even on weekends we make it a point to try out at least one new restaurant in the city. Believe me, that is not hard given the number of choices we have these days. Newness keeps us interested and makes us interesting! I even tried to start Instagramming like a food blogger, but you see, ironically food bloggers are foodies and yet they have the patience to click pictures before they devour what they see on the table. I am neither crazy about high calorie food, nor a patient photographer!

Anyway, I digress. The new cities that we travel to give our life the spice that it has. We go with high expectations and come back with beautiful memories. We talk about them for years – before going and after returning. And then there are so many other things that we bring back.

For this challenge I will write about what came back with me. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Life in Bahrain during Covid-19/Coronavirus outbreak

It was Monday, 24th of February. The weather was pleasant, and we had many fun activities planned for the coming weekends. I checked the weather and found out that it was going to be a sandstorm the next day. So, I quickly messaged my friends telling them how the weather is going to change and that we must go to the ongoing food festival that very day. We all agreed and had a great time at the fest.

The next morning was ordinary – the Boy rushed through his morning rituals to leave home at 7 for work. I finished the household chores, did my yoga and started contemplating on the things I could do that day. And then the stats came pouring in. Bahrain had been hit by the damn novel corona virus and the number of patients were in double digits. There was panic all around the country. Whatsapp was flooded with messages. Since I don’t drive, I felt helpless about the fact that I couldn’t go out and get the necessary groceries lest the country were to go on a lock-down. We have a small store in our apartment building. I rushed down and bought all the Dettol that they had!

It was clearly mayhem in the supermarkets that evening. Hand sanitizers were out of stock. There were long lines in the pharmacies selling N95/N99 face masks. I cancelled my physiotherapy appointment for the next day hoping things will improve from the next week and I will be able to get back into routine.

The next few days weren’t easy either. Schools were asked to shut down. Offices were told to prepare for a situation wherein employees would work from home. Malls, restaurants and streets, all were empty. All major events happening in the country were cancelled. The Grand Prix – Bahrain’s annual extravaganza - was made a participant only event. Holi parties on the beach were indefinitely postponed. All concerts, exhibitions, and public gatherings were put on hold until further notice.

It has been 16 days since that day of panic, and I can’t say that things are improving. We are living in very, very difficult times. The economic repercussion of this is unfathomable. We went to have dinner at an Indian restaurant last evening to celebrate Holi. The manager was complaining how he had no vacant tables last year on this day and how this year there was nobody but us eating there. He was going to send his staff on leave for two months the next week.

We have two holiday plans starting next month. In all probability we will have to cancel flights and hotel bookings. Imagine how hard this summer is going to be on those depending on the travel industry for their bread and butter.

The stock markets have already reduced the wealth of plenty by a huge percentage. The sudden declaration on the oil prices by Saudi Arabia has added fuel to fire. Some say that the number of cases is much, much higher than what countries are revealing. Since the world likes to believe in the worst in each other, we are drawn to this idea. People are angry, depressed and confused. We are distancing from each other socially and feeling more alone than ever. And we are just in, probably, phase two of Covid-19.

We need each other more than ever now. We need to protect ourselves and our neighbours. We need to be kind and help whoever needs our support. It is going to get worse before it gets better. We need to tell each other to hang in there and hope that the summer heat will kill the virus.

Yes, hope, and, hang in there.