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Coronavirus Outbreak: Lockdown Diary From Milpitas, California

Joyita Bakshi Ghose is the owner, designer of Poshaq Silks operating from Milpitas, California. 

On March 19 at midnight, Santa Clara county issued a “shelter at home” policy. Apart from essential services of grocery shopping or a walk in the neighborhood, we are asked to stay home.

For many it is a respite from early morning wake ups and rushing through traffic to reach school and work everyday. However, the sudden lull brought a sense of unease. Our culture is one of rush, hurry, barely having time to now how do we deal with this new inaction?

The exponential increase in cases and the innumerable graphs of data crunching of the worldwide virus spread started flooding our WhatsApp and messaging groups. Then, the disbelief of empty shelves in Safeway for toilet paper, hand sanitizers, and cleaning supplies. It seemed as though the movie “Contagion” had come alive in my present life.

Not seeing fruits, vegetables, or even potatoes in Walmart one day, was the most disturbing thing for me. The shopping runs to the grocery (hoarding for 2 weeks, wait what if it’s 6 weeks?) a constant fear of the unknown. Why were people lining up to buy guns as one article stated? Yes, I have an Indian household, but eating out, is a common cultural phenomenon.

We regularly eat at Mexican and Italian food restaurants. Imagine trying to replicate that life at home. Impossible - so it’s more frugal and doing the best in the situation we have. I am grateful that my son’s high school is continuing online without a hitch.

READ | Coronavirus Crisis: UK Based Fetish Company Donates Entire Medical Clothing Stock To NHS

A sense of purpose with a regular schedule is necessary for kids. The issues are in their faces everyday and it can be very overwhelming for youth who feel helpless in such a situation. All my apparel buyers told me that they wanted me to put a pause on my shipping of products till the situation gets better. I’m nervous about the economy, but feel blessed that for one more day I am just a regular person and not a statistic on a data sheet.

Every morning I have a schedule and I set it for the family. I wake up, shower, pray, and do my work. I try to make fun breakfasts - waffles or crepes - it gives everyone a good start and the family looks forward to “mom’s breakfasts”. My husband is working online with his colleagues, and I think we are all adapting to be more efficient even though we are emotionally stressed out.

In the evening, we go to a nearby park to walk surrounded by the sound of nothing but birds. Beautiful but eerie. We meet our friends and cousins through Zoom. Standing in grocery lines wearing a mask and gloves while 6 feet away from one another, is hard for a country of friendly conversations between strangers. It’s somber. I have started sharing my paintings on Instagram.

The paintings and the flow of dyes are soothing and can reduce the stress. I have started giving art classes to my nieces around the world over zoom. They love it and I may have a few adults sitting down in the next session. I hope in doing this I can bring a little peace in the world around me.

READ | COVID-19: Trump Says Peak US Death Rate Likely In 2 Weeks; Extends 'social Distancing' Until Apr 30

READ | COVID-19: US Healthcare System, One Of The Best In World, Under Deep Stress


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