14th March 2020.
The funny thing is, this is supposed to be a 14-part blog post of my life during the 14-day self-quarantine in China during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, but it begins with me sleeping in an aircraft.
Life can be so unpredictable sometimes.
There I was, sleeping peacefully on a flight to Shanghai. Well, “peacefully”. My entire face was covered by things – I had an N95 mask over my nose and my mouth, plastic glasses covering my eyes, and a hoodie pulled over my hair and ears. I was basically a DIY Batman.
Even though it sounds rather uncomfortable, it honestly wasn’t that bad. My hoodie was super comfortable, and the glasses rested really well on my ears. It was the mask that was the problem.
I had been wearing it for quite a long time now (precisely, from before the time I had entered the IGI International Airport in New Delhi until now), and, although I had gotten used to the presence of warm, humid air around my nose and mouth, it was very unpleasant. The mask had two elastic bands that went around my ears that securely held it to its place, and the right elastic band had started hurting the top of my right ear. In fact, it had become so painful that I had to tie the elastic band to the temple tips of my glasses.
Fortunately, I couldn’t feel any of that while I was asleep. I sleep like a rock.
I woke up when the plane was about to land. It was a thrilling sensation – waking up not knowing where you are, not feeling anything other than a jolt followed by a rapid deceleration.
10/10. Would definitely recommend.
A few of my friends who had flown to China before had warned me that the airport authorities usually conducted a temperature check of everyone on the plane before letting passengers leave.
Initially, I thought men in Hazmat suits would enter the plane and measure everybody’s temperature. Minutes flew by as I waited for them to emerge through the entrance of the aircraft, but nothing happened. Just when I thought that I would be stranded on the aircraft for life, it was announced that the flight crew would begin dismissing passengers according to row numbers.
I later found out that, while I was asleep, the flight crew had measured my temperature not only once, but twice.
Soon, my family and I were off the aircraft and making our way towards a health quarantine booth. All passengers on the flight were required to fill out a health declaration form detailing key information about their purpose and their flight to China, as well as indicate whether they were displaying any symptoms associated with the Coronavirus.
That, as well as immigration, took a really long time. Our flight had landed at 4:50 AM, but we had left the airport at 7:05 AM. Once we had collected our bags, we found the driver that we had hired and drove back to Suzhou.
I honestly don’t remember much of what happened in the car because I was wearing headphones and listening to loud music, and somehow, I had fallen asleep.
When my eyes opened, we were rolling up to the entrance of my compound.
It was a view different from that which I had left when my family and I had traveled to India, back at the start of the Chinese New Year. The side entrance to the compound was barricaded off, and guarding the main entrance were more guys in Hazmat suits. There was a large multi-level storage tent erected near the guard building, and endless delivery drivers seemed to pull up to the tent, deposit a parcel, and drive away.
It was, in all honestly, a superb method of reducing the risk from the virus. All the families in the compound would have limited contact with outsiders, minimizing the risk of infection, and people who didn’t belong in the compound couldn’t enter.
My family and I initially weren’t allowed inside our compound. There was some procedure to be followed, and even though before flying we had made sure to inform the management that we were arriving, we had to fill in multiple forms.
We camped out inside our driver’s car while people from the management team of our compound hurried to and from our car with different forms.
Finally, after what felt like forever, we were given to go-to to take our things and make our way towards our apartment. Just before we entered the compound, though, the workers measured our temperatures.
They took out this handheld machine and brought it close to our foreheads. They held it there for a few seconds before it beeped and displayed a temperature. As a rule of thumb, if your temperature was below 37 degrees Celsius you were considered to be virus-free.
Everybody in my family – my brother, my mother, my father, and I – had a decent temperature, and we were allowed into the compound.
We somehow managed to make it to our building, and as we opened to door to our apartment, waves of nostalgia rolled over me.
I had last seen this place more than a month and a half ago. As I walked in, I began remembering so many details about my life before the virus. I was home.
This was the moment I had been waiting for. I ran into my room and ripped off my mask and breathed in deeply.
After almost 12 hours of wearing the mask, this felt like heaven.
While my parents began disinfecting the house, I quickly changed clothes and walked over to the kitchen. It was my responsibility to quickly cook something for my younger brother, who had been starving for the past couple of hours.
Fortunately, we had brought some cup noodles with us to China. I quickly washed the pots, boiled some water, and made two cup noodles – one for my brother, and one for myself.
Despite the simplicity of the meal, the noodles tasted like ambrosia. I breathed in the food in an instant.
After that, I remember making my way towards my parents’ bedroom, lying down on their bed, and listening to music. I must’ve dozed off because when I next woke up, it was dark outside. However, I felt really rested.
When I stepped outside the room, the entire apartment was clean. All the bags were unpacked and stacked in the corner of the room, the floor was shiny, and the air smelt like disinfectant. Perfect.
The time was almost 6 PM.
After I had had something to eat, my parents began discussing our current situation. We had no means of ordering vegetables and fruits, and we weren’t allowed to leave our apartment. The management had placed a sensor outside our door that alerted them whenever we opened our door to enforce the rules of the quarantine on us.
After talking to her colleagues, my mother instructed me to open up the Chinese app store on my phone and search up an app called “DingDong.”
Turns out, that app was what the locals used to order fresh fruits and veggies as well, so for the rest of my night, my mother and I sat down together and made a list of all the food that we needed to order. It was getting pretty late at this point, so we decided to have the food delivered to us tomorrow morning at 11:00 AM. There was an option to do this in the app, which saved us a lot of hustle.
Then, my brother and I went to my room and we began goofing around. We played around on my guitar a little, told each other jokes, and had a good time. We had too good of a time though, because we ended up sleeping at 3 AM.
And this was the first day of my 14-day self-quarantine over. It was really tiring, but there were some good moments in it as well. I had felt slightly guilty over the fact that I hadn’t done any of my pending work during the day, but I cut myself some slack because I had been traveling.
During the second day of the quarantine, though, I would be plowing through some major work, and I would be facing some difficulty due to language barrier between me and the locals.
Keep reading to find out more!
This is the first article in fourteen that I will be posting. I hope you enjoyed it!
You can check out my Instagram at: @theravensinferno__
Once my self-quarantine period is over, I will be compiling all the posts in this 14-part series into an ebook and uploading it onto Amazon.
Thank you! – Rudy, 2020