My name is Vaishnavi and I moved to Dubai in November 2017. Like it or not, two years of living in the UAE has provided a comfort like nowhere- a home away from home to be precise. Dubai is known to be a city that never sleeps and being a woman, I can very well say the security here is truly like nowhere else. But wait, that wouldn’t mean I could escape nature’s pranks, right? Just as I reminisced my Italy trip last year and prayed for the people stuck in the horrid situation, the ‘guest’ came knocking at my door!
The first coronavirus case was reported in the UAE on 29 January. For a moment, I did not react. I could barely feel my body as I read the article on Khaleej Times. A sense of fear gripped me, and it only worsened when I saw my 4-year old playing outside. A zillion questions ran through my head- Would this be fatal? What if my child gets it? What about our Georgia trip in April? Should I leave to India? To these, no one ever had answers. Soon, precautionary messages flooded on WhatsApp groups from near and dear ones. As soon as I got myself together, I quickly made a basic to-do and pasted it on my fridge.
For The Inmates Of My Home
- Wash, sanitize, REPEAT
- No bottled juices/ cold food
- No outside food
- No hand in mouth (for the child)
- Pediatrician’s number
- DO NOT PANIC (for the mother in me)
- I did stock up on masks, but this one tuned a never-ending battle after the Ministry of Health and Community Protection issued a notice stating N-95 masks are only meant to be used by medical staff. On a side note, I do wear the mask at times. I also put up strict personal hygiene practices and protocols for all inmates in the house.
The Rising Numbers
For a month, each day passed reading about more new cases, the government’s plan to treat those affected, other countries that were affected etc. But, that was not it! Just when I thought this wasn’t a thing as serious as it sounds on TV channels, the UAE Ministry of Education announced that all schools, colleges and universities would remain closed for 4 weeks. Although this was ONLY a precautionary measure, it did create a sense of discomfort and realization that the issue was way more serious than we imagined. Well, in a way I was happy the child would be safe and secure at home. But, with that came a huge baggage- what are we going to do at home for 4 weeks? A work-from-home mom, a toddler, and no contact to the outside world- that’s the scariest movie I’ve watched!
Finding Ways To Keep My Child Busy Indoors
Next on my list was to address the dreaded! Going out was not an option. The next option was to find ways to engage the child indoors. Board games, cycling, books, toys- everything made it to my list and yet we have days when we’re driving each other up the wall. Screen times have gone haywire simply because the child has nothing else to do. Judge me- but at times staying sane is more important than wondering about what others are doing or saying.
So, we found a mid-way. This is how I’ve scheduled my son’s routine: Wake up- breakfast- phonics-play- lunch- screen time- sleep- snack- play- math- dinner- reading time- sleep. Now, let’s not even get into how much of this we actually follow.
The World Outside My Window
A week passed, and the world outside my window looked *normal*. Shops functioned normally, online deliveries had no hazel, malls had shoppers, people still hung around in beaches and everything seemed happy and nice. I felt a sense of security. Although the number of cases in the country kept coming and going, it seemed like things were under control. We stayed at home even on weekends as I consciously chose to avoid crowded areas (yes, I’m a paranoid mom). Our only outing was a late evening drive, just to get some fresh air.
However, things don’t look the same now. The Dubai Tourism has closed down all nightclubs in the city until the end of March. Soon, flights were cancelled, rescheduled and whole lot of places were affected by the virus, making it unsafe for travel. Just when I came to terms with my Georgia trip being crushed, more came by. Popular attractions in the city, gyms, spas, parks and many other public places are now shut down until the month end.
Coping With A Partially Locked-Down City
Dubai is a city that’s always brimming with life and energy. However, things have been a little different with all the havoc. Firstly, it’s shocking and saddening to see roads empty. The car park in my apartment is full and that only means everyone’s glued to their homes. The security in my apartment wears a mask, and is constantly monitoring the housekeeping guys so the premises are free of any infection.
Seeing the city go on a lull is difficult but we got to do what we got to do. So, the next thing I did was to educate myself on the food situation in the city. First things first – I stocked up on extra water cans, grocery, milk and all other day-to-day essentials. Between us, we also decided that my husband would be the only one going to supermarkets, in case home delivery was not available. I also read up about the new restaurant laws in place during this time as well as made a note of restaurants that accepted home delivery.
Living in the current day no longer feels like we’re in 2020. It suddenly feels like someone just took us back in time and we’re in the 50’s or 60’s where recreation was nil, and lifestyle was anything but fancy.
I fondly reminisce my trip to Italy last year and to see the country in such a state today is beyond shocking. Well, amidst all the chaos, I feel grateful we are at a place much safer than a million others in Italy. We as a family, are paying and hoping this too will pass very soon and the world will be a much better place to live in!