I’m one of the 1.3 billion people on lockdown in India, where food is running scarce, police patrol the streets, and chalk is used to mark social distancing lines. Here’s what it’s like in my neighborhood.

Somdyuti Datta Ray's Kolkata, India neighborhood amid the coronavirus pandemic

Somdyuti Datta Ray is a freelance journalist living in Kolkata, India amid the 21-day lockdown onset amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
She says the pandemic has caused panic in her town, raising concerns of food security and putting many people out of work.
Local grocers and fresh fruit, vegetable, and fish markets are shut or selling food at higher prices, and many online sellers have stalled deliveries.
It’s eerily quiet apart from the time when residents clang pans and cheer in appreciation of health workers at 5 p.m.
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My Kolkata neighborhood has never been this quiet before.

I don’t want to admit that I’m scared. Maybe the word I’m actually looking for is restless. On edge. Uncertain.

This week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a countrywide lockdown for 21 days from midnight. As of yesterday, March 25, India had 553 active COVID-19 cases, as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data, and the death toll stood at 10.

I asked my friends if I’m allowed to feel fear. Can I still be a journalist — a writer — if I’m not brave enough? We’re supposed to be fearless, unbiased, undeterred by risks. We’re meant to reassure and maintain calm. So, what do I do when the worst finally begins to chip away at my will?

I told this to a friend, who replied: You are human.

I’ve been a freelance writer for almost a year. I work from home and telecommunicate with my sources. A pandemic and lockdown haven’t changed that — I’m still speaking to individuals across the globe. But my ‘City of Joy’— the cacophony outside my window — is anything but joyful. My neighbors aren’t watching their regular Bengali TV shows too loud anymore. I’m assuming they’re huddled around the screen, watching the updates roll in like us.

On day one of a national lockdown, people were panic-buying vegetables and groceries.

Somewhere in my city, people surrounded and queued behind a van unloading cooking gas cylinders, lest theirs aren’t delivered at home. Elsewhere across my state, I watched footage of the police charging their batons to disperse crowds; they ordered a group of men to perform sit-ups while holding their ears and drew Lakshman Rekha (a circle marked by chalk) in front of shops for individuals to maintain social distancing.

There is a slum near our house, and for once the boys aren’t swinging their cricket bats and the ball isn’t rattling against our iron gates. The streets are quiet, the trains aren’t whistling past, and the man who irons clothes in front of our house hasn’t opened the stall’s shutters in five days.

Last week, Modi announced what he called a Janta Curfew to be held on Sunday, March 22 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. to tackle coronavirus.

“During this curfew, we shall neither leave our homes, nor get onto the streets or roam about our localities,” he said in his speech. “Only those associated with emergency and essential services will …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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