In our society, residents had been avoiding the gym and swimming pool. (Express Photo by Neeti Nigam)
Our housing society is in self-quarantine. A resident at neighbouring Supertech Capetown has tested positive for coronavirus.
A fortnight back, I would have laughed even at the thought of a such a scenario. My plans for March included binge-watching Narcos Season 2, cheering India for the South Africa series and shopping for my summer wardrobe. Otherwise, at this time of the year, with Navratras is just a few days away, residents of our Noida Sector 74 society are usually busy planning kirtans and group activities. Now life has come to a standstill.
Things started sinking in when IPL was postponed and the board exams cancelled; then we were all told to work from home. All unprecedented.
Never in my life have I seen such collective anxiety, apprehensions and concern. With reports of another positive case in a nearby housing apartment the fear in the area is palpable. Our WhatsApp groups are full of strange theories on the pandemic. No one bats an eyelid before sharing posts even they know can’t be true.
My locality — the Noida 7 series sectors — is not nothing less than a concrete jungle with high-rise apartment complexes jostling for space with branded food outlets, grocery stores and unisex parlours. It is a small city with its own traffic, parking problems and pollution to which the residents have all adjusted now.
Now, it looks more like a ghost town. Most shops are closed, most street vendors are missing and auto-rickshaws are hard to come by. Despite the government’s assurance that the supply of groceries would not be hit, there had been panic buying over the past week and even our society store has run out of essentials.
In our society, residents had been avoiding the gym and swimming pool. The swings and playing areas were sanitised early this week but are now completely deserted. Yoga and Zumba classes have been discontinued. The weekend cricket matches, as well as basketball and badminton practices, have stopped. The silence is eerie. There was more life here when I moved in four years back and the project was still under construction.
I thought to make most of time by following a discipline of rigorous morning and evening walks. Now, even those have stopped.
There have been discussions on Whatsapp groups to stop entry of outsiders even as some have sent their helps on paid leave. But not everyone might be that lucky. A couple of days back I saw two who work in our society angrily discussing how this could lead to a payout and why nobody is thinking of them. Now, they are all locked out of our society.
All deliveries — from food to courier — has been restricted to one gate and everyone has to come down to collect their packages. Only vehicles ferrying water are allowed in. The security guards and maintenance staff however are still working, making do with he sanitisers and masks given to them by the association.
Maybe taking a cue from the China videos circulating on social media, some children have kept a toothpick container inside the lift to press the floor keys without touching it. Another resident has created a video on how to stay positive during these testing times. She suggests finding joy in the little things in life, like waking up early to watch the sunrise. Some residents are planning to connect online and participate in meditation sessions.
After PM Modi asked citizens to clap hands or beat plates at 5pm on Sunday, my neighbours have been practising from the day before from our balconies. It is a good gesture to give us courage and to signal that we are in this together. Then we all go back inside.