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Former Chanhassen couple spends ten months under lockdown at hotel in India

By Lydia Christianson
    12 hrs ago

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Learn more about the travels of Jess and Tom Lyman at

The Lymans

Jess and Tom Lyman have been traveling around the world for nearly nine years.

Jess and Tom Lyman, former residents of Chanhassen, have traveled the world for almost nine years.

Nothing “short of death” has been able to put a stop to their adventuring, not even Jess’s emergency open-heart surgery, performed in South Africa in 2019.

But then, COVID-19 hit.

The Lymans were visiting the U.S. in January 2020 when they first got wind of COVID-19. They were leaving to travel in India, so they were sure to pack N99 masks to combat the smog. Little did they know they’d also be using them for other purposes.

The couple took a week-long trip on the Maharaja Express, getting off along the way to take tours. The first week of February, when the train ended, the Lymans had scheduled a private tour of India that included driving and flying.

“It was an extraordinary experience that it was just the two of us,” Jess said. “We were having the time of our lives.”

In March, the couple learned a cruise they had booked, which had prompted them to go to India in the first place, was canceled due to COVID-19. At that point, they decided to cancel the tour and go back to Mumbai.

The Lymans checked into a hotel that was already holding some of their luggage. They booked a flight to Johannesburg to get to Marloth Park, a wildlife sanctuary positioned on the southern boundary of the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

The Lymans headed back to a hotel they stayed at in January, only to find out it was closing a couple of days later due to the pandemic. Arriving at the airport at 3 a.m. for red-eye out of Mumbai, they found South Africa had closed its borders. But, the hotel had arranged another place for them to stay.

“Hotels were closing so rapidly you wouldn’t believe it. It was like doors slamming one after another,” Jess said.

Upon arriving, not only had the hotel never heard of them, they were closing the following day. The Lymans had nowhere to go but tried to remain calm. They stayed in the hotel lobby for several hours, searching for hotels or vacation homes with the help of the concierge.

“He said the only hotels I can find for you are those that have COVID patients because there’s no room in the hospitals for them,” Jess said.

The Lymans

The Lymans were traveling in India before a nationwide lockdown was announced.

Lockdown begins

Finally, the concierge found a hotel near the airport that they could stay at for the night. The hotel said they were open but couldn’t make any guarantees for how long, Jess said. It was March 24, the day a nationwide lockdown was ordered.

The Lymans spent ten months living at the hotel.

One of the restrictions of the lockdown involved a ban on alcohol sales. The hotel staff came into their room to empty the mini-fridge. The couple was also told they couldn’t go down to the hotel restaurant and that their food would be delivered to the room.

Neither of the Lymans eats Indian food. Tom is a “picky eater,” so he ate chicken penne pasta every night for dinner for eight months. Jess ate salmon and chicken on rotation for dinner for all ten months.

“I haven’t had a piece of salmon since we got out of there,” Jess said with a laugh.

The Lymans weren’t supposed to go outside because the hotel didn’t want them bringing COVID-19 back with them. However, they were allowed to walk around the floor they were staying on. Jess would walk five miles through the corridors while Tom walked the stairs.

Mumbai hotel
Screen capture of the view from the Lyman’s Mumbai hotel from a video Jess posted. The video of her walk through the hotel corridors can be found at

Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2020:

This photo from this date in 2014, posted one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #157. My dinner at Bella Italia consisted of two small chicken breasts in a pot of red sauce with a side of grilled vegetables. For more, please click here.