Day #290 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…2 days and counting…Covid-19 tests done!…

The excellent staff served us at the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport. They couldn’t be more attentive and concerned about our needs and those of the other stranded foreign nationals staying at the hotel during this difficult time. Thank you, dear staff members, for taking such good care of us, including taking everyone’s temperature this morning.

Today’s few photos are a continuation of those we posted during our first few months in India on tour, in today’s case, on March 30, 2020. See the post here. We’ll continue on this path, sharing more tour photos until it’s time for us to depart on January 11, 2021, hopefully. From there, God willing, it will be an entirely new world!

When I reviewed past posts from 2020, searching for photos to post here today, I ran across the post from March 30, 2020, with a heading that read: “Please unfriend me, if…Social media during the lockdown.” After uploading that post, I referred to it on my Facebook page, asking any “friends” that felt compelled to post negative comments during the lockdown to feel free to unfriend me. Only one such “friend” did so. None of us needed to see toxic vitriol during this challenging time.

Overall, other than political jokes and some negative comments here and there, my Facebook page has been friendly and uplifting since that time. Of course, advertising has been annoying, as I’m sure they’ve been for all FB users. It’s not that I spend much time on Facebook but, at night, when sleep is elusive, I scroll through zillions of posts, mainly from “groups” I’ve chosen to follow,  geared toward the masses as opposed to me specifically. That works for me.

From time to time, when I encounter an offensive (to me) post, I click to “hide this post” to remove it from my view and those who may be following me. There may be one of these every other day. I’ve yet to begin using Twitter and Instagram because I already spend enough time on my phone and laptop.

During the lockdown in India, the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport has created this heart image as a show of supports using lights in various hotel rooms.

This may change at some point, but lately, there hasn’t been much to say or share based on these ten months in lockdown. I didn’t want to be wracking my brain every day, trying to find something noteworthy to post on either of these. Tom and I are good at sharing our views and seldom feel a need to express them elsewhere.

Now, as our departure time nears, we’re wrapping up a few tasks. This morning we sent our proof of health insurance and both of our Indian visa extensions to the front desk to print. Finally, last night, my extension approval came through, which was a huge relief. Without proper stretching, there’s a possible fine of US $500, INR 36,690, per person for an “overstay.” Also, not having an extension could result in delays which may result in missing a flight.

This morning, a rep/phlebotomist, well masked and wearing protective (PPI) gear from a certified diagnostic lab in Mumbai, arrived at our room for our Covid-19 PCR test and the antigen test which we may have done needlessly.  When we became ill with an awful virus on our last cruise, which ended on November 8, 2019, we both had horrific coughs that lingered for two months. I had to seek medical care and inhalation therapy to be able to breathe. We both had the most dreadful coughs of our lives.

Although unlikely that it was Covid at that early date, we’ve always wondered if it was possible. The antigen test will put those thoughts to rest. The PCR test is required by the airlines and the countries we’ll be entering during the upcoming flights. The cost of the two tests for both of us was US $41.77, INR 3060, done right here, right at the hotel outside of our room door.

After we’d read how uncomfortable the test was for so many people, we were surprised to discover it was no big deal whatsoever. For the antigen test, a blood draw was required, here again, quick and painless. We’ll have the results in our email within 24 hours, perfect for our departure on Monday morning. We’ll print several copies of each.

Right now, as I write this, in 48 hours, we’ll be landing in Dubai. It’s hard to imagine we’ll be on our way. Please stay with us as we wrap up these last few days.

Stay safe and healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, January 9, 2020:

 A dazzle of zebras in an open field from a two-year-old post. For the year-ago post, when we included the cost of our 55-day tour of India, eventually cut short, please click here.

Please “unfriend me” if…Social media during lock down…

The excellent staff served us at the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport. They couldn’t be more attentive and concerned about our needs and those of the other stranded foreign nationals staying at the hotel during this difficult time. Thank you, dear staff members, for taking such good care of us, including taking everyone’s temperature this morning.
Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Regardless of difficult times, our lives are filled with the love and support of family/readers,/friends from all over the world. In 2019, when I had emergency open-heart surgery in South Africa, there was and continues to be an outpouring of generosity in prayers and warm wishes. 

We can proudly say, we have “no haters” imposing upon the joys and challenges of our daily lives of world travel.

Now, as we wait in a hotel room in Mumbai, India, for the virus to run its course and free us and the rest of the world to be able to continue with our lives, again the kindness and concern expressed by countless readers throughout the world flood our inboxes.

This generosity of spirit not only brings smiles to our faces as we rifle through the messages, trying to respond to each one personally, but it honestly has had an impact on our day-to-day lives.

As I lay on the sofa in our holiday home in the bush in February, March, and April 2019, with mosquitoes buzzing around our heads, temperatures well into the  40C (100F) range, with power going off and on due to load-shedding (utility company turning the power off for hours at a time to conserve resources), nothing beyond the loving attentiveness of my husband, family and local friends brought me more peace and comfort, than hearing from so many of you.

With the impact of this dreadful virus, we’re all locked down in one way or another, and yet our readers continue to reach out to us each day. This feeling of “never being alone” positively impacts both of us as we, like you, muddle our way through this challenge.

The hotel staff, some of whom are shown in the above photo, have embraced each guest with such kindness, extraordinary service, and a high level of concern, far beyond what one would expect during these trying times. 

During the lockdown in India, the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport has created this heart image as a show of supports using lights in various hotel rooms.

And beyond the communication we so much treasure with our worldwide readers is the opportunity to connect with family and friends via Facebook, which we use more than any other form of social media. 

Over the past 7½ years of world travel, Facebook has been a valuable source for us in seeing photos and reading stories about our loved ones and friends. Few of our blog readers share Facebook with us when they have their friends and family with whom they share the most detailed aspects of their lives.

Unfortunately, if a reader “friends” us, if we don’t know them and there’s no accompanying comment that they are a reader/friend, we may not accept their friend request. We’re not on a mission to have thousands of Facebook friends since doing so would result in too much sorting through posts.

For me, I go to Facebook five or six times a day to see what’s happening. I don’t notice annoying ads or promotions. But, I notice “hate speech” and “toxic vitriol,” which is often politically based. 

I try to breeze by the toxic comments, but like many of us, especially now with “time on our hands,” it’s not easy to do. I find myself reading hateful remarks about our leaders and the leaders of other countries, regardless of theirs or my political affiliation, that is an outright slam against their service and a slam against them as human beings.

I challenge anyone in this world to step into their shoes, now, in the past, or in the uncertain future, to do a better job than they are doing. Sure, we all fantasize about how “we’d do it better,” but none of us, regardless of how well-read or educated we believe we are, can fathom the depth, the magnitude of what is required to be in such a position unless we’ve been there.

No, I am not condoning poor or ruthless leadership. Nor am I expressing a personal political view. I don’t want to see or hear “hate speech” of any type on my Facebook feed. We are each entitled to our opinions, and yes, they can be voiced at appropriate times.

But, now, as we all struggle to stay upbeat, positive, and hopeful for the future, during this particularly challenging period in history, none of this toxicity is doing any of us any good. 

Thus, if you feel compelled to continue posting “hate speech” on Facebook, which as a medium, I consider a valuable source of hopefulness, humor, and optimism, please feel free to “unfriend” me. 

Yes, I can read about your troubles, challenges, joys, thoughts, health, and emotions as I have shared mine. Yes, I love seeing your photos of your family, your friends, scenery, places you’ve been or long to be and, animals, cats, dogs, wildlife, anything that walks, flies, or crawls. Who doesn’t love funny animal videos?

Yes, I can read news about Covid-19 as a reality we all face. But, not for one more day can I read “hate speech.” If you can’t stop, even during this challenging time, please… UNFRIEND ME.

I won’t judge you, nor will I announce “who” unfriended me. I’ll just let you “waft” away.  

May we all stay safe and hopeful during this difficult time.

Photo from one year ago today, March 30, 2019:

Young males gnus (wildebeest) have blondish hair on their heads, so mature males will leave them alone and not fight until they mature when the blond hair changes color.  Due to the blond hair, the older males perceive the young males as females and have little interest in harassing them. For more photos, please click here.

The days turn into nights and the nights are never ending…A day in the life…

Beautiful statue at the beach in Pondicherry.

At some point, we’re going to run out of photos to share of India. In that case, we’ll have no choice but to post without photos or add a few photos of the same date years ago.

 Let’s face it. For all of us in lockdown, our days and nights are relatively uneventful at this place in time. We eat, we sleep, we read, we watch the news, we stream shows, we play games, we talk, and we laugh. Click “replay.” It happens all over again.

For those of you with homes that are most of you, you do laundry, clean, make repairs, rebuild, re-do, re-design, cook, sit outdoors, talk on the phone, or whatever one does when trapped in your home.
A church we visited in Pondicherry.

In some ways, it’s easier for us. We don’t have a wall staring at us pushing us to paint it, a closet to clean, a garage to reorganize, or windows to wash. All we have to do is hand wash our clothes each day, prepare the day’s post, answer countless email messages from our readers, and pay our credit card bills at the end of the month. 

Are we bored? Surprisingly, we’re not. We could do this for many more months if necessary. We’re bracing ourselves for that possibility. As long as we are safe and have a roof over our heads, we can handle it. How about you?

We awake later than usual due to the darkening drapes in our room, often as late as 8:00 am. The routine for us is simple and uninspiring. We take turns showering and dressing, then head downstairs to the hotel restaurant for breakfast, often ordering the same items as long as they remain available.

Our Lady of Angels Church is the fourth oldest church in Puducherry, a Union territory in South India. The original structure was built in Greco Roman architecture by Napoleon III in 1855, with the architect being Louis Guerre. The only church offers mass in three languages, namely French, Tamil, and English.

Back up to our room after breakfast, we go online, checking the news for updates, often shocked by the new number of cases in the US that were calculated while we slept.

We work online, with me preparing the day’s post and Tom reading and reviewing his points of interest, often looking up facts and figures for me as I write.

When the cleaners come, we head downstairs to the lobby until they’re done. Once we return to the room, I begin my daily practice of walking in the halls, once every hour, to continue to build strength in my legs.

The stunning interior of Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in Pondicherry.

Usually, by 1:00 or 2:00 pm, I have completed and uploaded the post. Tom proofreads it for errors (we often miss several) and forwards a “text-only” email copy to his blind brother Jerome, who reads it daily from his talking computer.

From there, Tom listens to his favorite podcast, Garage Logic, from Minnesota while I watch mindless drivel on my laptop, simultaneously playing with my phone. 

As somewhat of a reality TV junkie, I’m currently watching “Married at First Sight,” the Australian version, and I am on episode 5 of season 7. At least 25 episodes remain. I can stand to watch two episodes a day. 

Entrance to the cemetery in the French Quarter in Pondicherry.

When I get through season 7, I’ll backtrack and start watching earlier seasons. That should keep me busy a few hours each day in-between stopping to walk the hallways.

Today, while it’s the middle of the night in the US, I will stay on hold on the phone for what may be hours in a continuing effort to get a refund from Kenya Airways when we were turned away for our flight to South Africa last Friday. 

I’ll do this while watching my show, setting the phone down with the speaker on while it’s still plugged in. It’s a toll-free number, and I can wait for hours as long as I stay busy doing something else. 

At 7:00 pm, when the restaurant opens for dinner, we head down to sit at the same table each night. By then, I’m starving. When we’re living in a holiday home, if we get hungry for a snack, we grab a piece of cheese or raw veggies. Now we don’t have such a luxury. The snacks in the minibar aren’t suitable for my way of eating, so no help there.

A shrine on the interior of a temple in Pondicherry.

We aren’t ever hungry at lunchtime, and we’ve always waited for dinner for the next meal. But during the late afternoon, I often find myself thinking of something to snack on. 

Oh well, this is our life right now, and we must make the best of it. Usually, a cup of tea or two gets me through those few hungry hours. In the realm of things, it’s no big deal. Tom never seems to get hungry for a snack, so this is not an issue for him.

After dinner, it’s back to the room where we’ll get comfy and stream a few episodes of our favorite shows, currently Survivor and Seal Team. By 11:00 pm, we’re off to sleep to awaken the following day to begin it all again.

What about YOU? We’d love to hear how some of you are spending your days and nights during the lockdown. Please post a comment at the end of each post for all of our readers to see. It’s comforting to know we are not alone. Feel free to do so “anonymously” if you so choose.

Stay home. Stay safe. We’ll all get through this!

Photo from one year ago today, March 27, 2019:

Check out the muscles on this huge animal, a male kudu. “Little” is taking a drink from the cement pond in the background. For more photos, please click here.