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A Spirited Life, With Family Amidst The Gloom!

Having read that the number of positive cases of Covid-19 in New York state alone exceed those in any single country in the world outside of the US, LifeInChandigarh.com contacted some overseas Indians from Chandigarh based in some of the hot spots in the world’s most powerful country to know how they are coping up.

The feedback from our friends in New York and Chicago, two of the biggest cities in the US and both hotbeds of the Coronavirus outbreak on the East Coast, is heartening.

Amidst the fear and chaos of a crisis situation, these gentlemen – an investment banker working in New York City and living in adjoining New Jersey, and a HR professional and an IT consultant in Chicago – working from home, are managing to keep their spirits high and savouring every moment of togetherness with the family.

A Spirited Life, With Family Amidst The Gloom!, Lifeinchd

Family time with the pet
rnPhotos By : Life In Chandigarh

Ajay Asija, who works for an investment bank, and is based out of New York, says he is fine working from home in a small town called Westfield (population of just around 30,000) in Union county of New Jersey state, 25 miles from his workplace in New York City. The town has witnessed about 100 positive cases of Covid-19 and three elderly people above 80 years of age could not survive the infection.

The population, having to bear with the usual restrictions – no gatherings, no stepping out from home unless absolutely necessary and social distancing – is coping up quite well.

This is in sharp contrast to the adjoining New York state which has reported over 6,000 deaths (way over the number of people killed in 9/11) and more than 1.50 lakh confirmed cases of Covid-19. In fact, more people have died in New York and adjoining New Jersey state (total of 7,700-plus) than in the rest of US combined.

Ajay, who has been working from home since March 12, around the time when the first death due to Covid-19 in New York was announced (first case was confirmed on March 1), says for two weeks there was utter chaos and panic all around with no one realising what was happening. There were health concerns all right, but more than that the speed at which the stock market started to crash, never seen ever before, had the population really panicky.

And when the gravity of the situation began to sink in, everything was shut down in New York state around mid-March, and gradually other states followed. State flags in most states are flying at half mast as a mark of respect to the dead.

How are the hospitals coping up with the rush of positive cases? “Hospitals for the most part are fine. Only hospitals in very urban areas of New York City are affected,” shares Ajay, and adds that nothing much has changed in life “I am continuing to work from home and devoting some time to exercising and gardening.”

He is continuing to use Whatsapp to remain in touch with his social circles. Of course he has had to cancel his planned trip to Italy.

A Spirited Life, With Family Amidst The Gloom!, Lifeinchd

A game of Monopoly Deal over cookies and drinks

The situation in Chicago, by far the largest city in Illinois state with a population upwards of 27 lakh (Overseas Indians estimated well over 1,00,000) , and the third largest city in entire US after New York and Los Angeles, is “pretty serious”, says IT consultant Ripujit Singh, who works in Chicago city and lives in its suburbs. “It’s scary even going to the market once in a while to collect groceries and other essentials, though the stores are following stringent protocols put in place following the outbreak.”

Illinois state has so far reported more than 16,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 500-plus deaths.

The 10-hour work schedule by and large remains the same for the IT consultant even while working from home, though he can afford to take more breaks in between. His elder daughter, who is working, and the younger one , who is studying, have both come home for an extended period for the first time after a couple of years.

Though he, his wife, and both daughters are working/studying from home, they are enjoying the quality time spent together – dining, playing Monopoly Deal or just chatting.

“For socialising, I have put the facility of four way video chatting on Whatsapp to good use by holding virtual parties, if you like, with friends over beer,” Ripujit shares with a laugh.

Physical social contacts have stopped completely. At most people are seen chatting with neighbours from across the street.

A Spirited Life, With Family Amidst The Gloom!, Lifeinchd

Our walks

For HR professional Atul Khosla, working for a global company and currently based out of Chicago, “staying positive and avoiding excessive news and WhatsApp messages is the key to staying sane in these troubled times. Working from home, which is on a golf course near Chicago, taking walks in our community and spending time with family are giving me added comfort,” he shares.

He feels that though the situation is “pretty serious”, hospitals are fully equipped and doing a great job. Essentials are not a problem and are being ordered online and home delivered. He is in regular touch with his family in India and friends using Zoom, Facetime, etc. He had plans to visit his family in India and also holiday in Europe in June, which now doesn’t seem likely.

Some Facts:

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  • Research by various prestigious institutes in the US have indicated that the coronavirus began to circulate in the New York area by mid-February, weeks before the first confirmed case was detected, and that it was brought to the region mainly by travellers from Europe, not China.

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  • A previously hidden spread of the virus could have been detected if an aggressive testing programme had been put in place.

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  • On January 31, President Donald Trump barred foreign nationals entering the country if they had been to China during the previous two weeks. Though he slammed travel restrictions on China in late January, but did not impose restrictions on Europe until mid-March.

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  • More people have died in New York and adjoining New Jersey state – a total of 7,700-plus – than in the rest of US combined. To date more than 8,100 tri-state (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) residents have lost their lives to Covid-19 and more than 2,00,000 have been infected.

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  • New York state has more confirmed cases than any single country in the world outside of US. It has 6,200-plus deaths (way over the number killed in 9/11) and nearly 1.50 lakh confirmed cases.

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  • New Jersey, second most impacted state, has reported 47,000-plus positive cases and more than 1500 deaths.

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  • Connecticut could be an emerging hot spot as well, standing at nearly 9,000 confirmed cases and over 335 dead.

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  • New York’s first positive case was announced on March 1 and first death nearly two weeks later on March 14.

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  • All state flags lowered to half mast as a mark of respect to the dead.

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  • Amid the mounting tragedy, there are hopeful signs. According to reports two-thirds of hospitalised patients in New York have been discharged and hundreds of Police and Fire Department members have been cleared to return to duty.

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 Confirmed Coronavirus cases : 

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  • Worldwide : 15,11,000-plus  (more than 87,700 deaths)

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  • USA : 4,32,000-plus (more than 14,000 deaths)

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LifeInChandigarh.com  by APR Media House is an enjoyable digital reading startup, which keeps you abreast of the latest meaningful happenings of interest to large sections of folks in Chandigarh tricity, and expats from the region. It has been promoted by a public spirited senior journalist and media consultant with a view to encourage good quality and healthy journalism, a dire need of the times.

To keep in touch, drop an email or call :
rnkochhar.apr@gmail.com
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