Indians living abroad talk about COVID19 stories from their cities
Young Indian writers and social influencers share images and stories of post-COVID unlocking from across the world
While India continues to grapple with the pandemic, and is seeing more stringent lockdown restrictions than other countries, in certain parts of the world, life is gradually returning to normal. Five Indians scattered across global metros tell us what life is like in their adopted homes.
'Every corner turns into gig venue in evening'
Before moving to Jerusalem, I had no idea about the city's musical core. During the lockdown, just walking around helped me discover so many artistes and styles of music. As most performance venues continue to remain shut, musicians are hitting the streets to entertain us. They set up a stage (not a literal one) in the city square, the shuk, which is Jerusalem's central marketplace, and on some of the most popular streets. Some of them are often hired by the municipality to perform in public places. Almost every street corner comes alive in the evening with some kind of spectacle—live music, stilt walkers, talking trees, magicians, you name it. And if the music is upbeat, then people are sure to get up and dance. Jerusalem is a pedestrian's dream. While that maybe true for most first world cities, here, the narrow alleys and labyrinthine lanes are often only accessible on foot, and have many stories to tell. The graffiti is another major draw, especially in the random hidden alleys. The steep slopes can make the walker breathless at times, but there is always something rewarding waiting at the end of the road, whether it's art, architecture, music, or just a great shawarma stall.
'Everyone's lining up outside patios'
audiologist and F&B influencer
The most noteworthy change to have occurred recently in Toronto is the opening up of patios or open-air seating areas by restaurants. This outdoor dining idea has taken off well and everyone feels safer. Although indoor dining is available, it's at the patios that diners are queuing up outside. Canada's summer lasts only four months, so everyone wants to make the most of the lovely weather.
New York, USA
'To be free but safe, we go to Central Park'
ALL of April and May, we didn't leave our apartments. In July, as the number of infections gradually went down, we have seen some relaxations. But all meetings continue to be held only out in the open. Restaurants are also allowing only outdoor seating, and masks have to be worn at all times, other than when you are at a table. I haven't been taking the subway, and biking everywhere instead. But for me, and for most New Yorkers, the safest place to be is Central Park. I have met friends and acquaintances, all in the park. It's one of those places where you can maintain social distance so easily. Sometimes, the change hits you hard. Last night, we were chucked out of a [New York] bar at 11 pm, which usually would be the time we'd enter one.
'Feels like I'm coming back to life'
While Melbourne is still under lockdown, residents in Sydney are getting on with life although with some restrictions in place.
Working in your PJs has become the norm, and I think a lot of us have somehow got used to this. While malls, gyms and restaurants are open, the authorities are exercising caution and restricting patrons to smaller groups. We also exercise personal restraint by rarely stepping out of our homes except for grocery shopping. But we have the luxury of taking a walk, which I do every day at a park near my residence after I finish work. It feels good to observe life return to normal. It's like we are alive again.
'Heard Sonu Nigam at socially-distanced concert'
style and parenthood blogger
The authorities had carried out a National Sterilisation programme, which involved the sanitisation of all public utilities across the country, in addition to restriction on movement and large gatherings that are now slowly being lifted. The state has been very quick to track and test. I, for instance, have already been tested twice for COVID-19 since I had a cold and cough. The city has seen a gradual opening. The gyms and shops are allowed a limited number of people. Until two months ago, my mother and daughter couldn't step out as they fall in the high-risk category, but now they can. We visit the mall twice a week and most people are exercising self precautions anyway. The fines are very heavy if you are found violating norms. They go up to AED3,000 to 5,000 for not social distancing, not wearing mask or failure to download the COVID-19 tracking app. Last week, I attended the Sonu Nigam concert at the Dubai World Trade Centre and it felt both good and strange. We were subject to temperature checks and wore masks, and there was ample space left between two seated members in the audience.
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