• Adyar Times

A room full of voices

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

As the lockdown enters its second week, harsh realities of the situation settles in. But it doesn't dampen the spirit of the neighbourhood who have embraced it as a necessity. Everyone that Adyar Times spoke to were in high praise of the Police and the Corporation for implementing the lockdown strictly. 

Yashaswini from Subramaniam Colony, an expectant mother, says, “The police have been very nice and polite with everyone. Every time I go to the hospital, the policemen and women ask, ‘Mam, do take care. Do not go out just because you are bored. We hope you really have an appointment and do wear a mask,’ etc. Their job in this period is highly commendable. I am grateful that the police are there to take care of everyone.”

Kalusalingam from Thiruvanmiyur also points out, “I needed to put petrol and the nearest bunk is at Kottivakkam. On the way, I was checked, and when I told them of the bunk at Kottivakkam, they kept vigil on me.”For senior citizens staying alone, it has not been easy. While relatives stay with the elderly, others are being helped by neighbors and volunteers. Amongst all this, they are very cautious about social distancing. “I go out to buy my own provisions and vegetables as due to social distancing, I cannot and do not expect anyone to do for me,” Kalusalingam explains. Yet another senior citizen - Nayaki Rajagopalan from Kotturpuram, finds it hard to procure provisions for the home since shops do not have delivery boys. They have thus stocked up for nearly a month.

Families taking care of the elderly have also been affected. Mohan from Perungudi explains, “My mother is 89 and we need to be on our toes to keep her active and healthy both physically, and mentally. COVID reminds her of the plague of 1920. Calls from a host of relatives keep her busy, while I have taken on cooking as a full-time job. Luckily we are still getting water from tankers among all this.”

Ramya Kamesh from Hiranandani who is also taking care of the elderly is all praise for cooperation and politeness extended by shopkeepers. She added, “My father in law was just back from the hospital before the lockdown. The doctors have been very nice and co-operative during this whole lockdown period. We reach them on the phone and they are prescribing medicines that we can get here.”

There are many others as well who are very cautious at this time. Sravanthi from Adyar tells, “We have a newborn baby and a cancer patient at my home. But things are better as we are strictly following lockdown. Only 1 person goes out to buy vegetables and groceries, once in 10 days. We have a full-time stay-at-home caretaker to help manage household activities.”

Nalini Madhavan from Sastri Nagar also shares, “Though I have a 93-year-old elderly and a differently-abled person at home, everyone is very understanding. I stopped the caregiver who takes care at nights, to avoid any unwanted infections. But I am able to manage everything because everyone is pitching in.”

Uma from Vannadurai has a brother-in-law who is ‘special’, “Every morning he will ask for our plan and we explain to him the circumstances. He understands. Everyone in the house has been cooperative,” she elaborates.

There are also many for whom the lockdown washed away vacation plans. Avid roadies - Ramkey and his family from Olympia Panache had to abandon their trip and have been at home for 21 days to date. But they don’t regret it. They now have more family time and are chalking out their next trip. “It is interesting to see that right now we are asked to wash often and maintain cleanliness - something that our grandparents have tried hard to tell us through decades,” he exclaims.

The lockdown has also torn families. Mohan’s daughter, who used to take care of the kitchen is stuck in Kerala, Ramya Kamesh’s husband is in Spain and Dr. Mrunal Deshpande, a resident of Palavakkam and an associate professor with SSN College of Engineering, has a son who is in Canada while her husband is unable to come back from Pune. “Instead of getting upset and nervous and grumbling, we decided to face it boldly,” she says. Relaxing her schedule now, she is devoting time to cleaning the house and taking classes online. She has also been teaching her family to cook in the meantime. “Both are equally managing alone exceptionally well and they are my motivation,” she proudly states.

The lockdown has been the harshest for the doctors. A doctor on anonymity states, “We have to work harder now at the hospital and at home, we no longer have help from maids. A double whammy!”

Dr. Jayshree, a lactation consultant from Besant Nagar explains, “It is very hard to explain online to new mothers who are having lactation issues. So I do have to go to the hospital. And patients too with babies as small as six-day-olds come from far off. Currently, with OPDs closed, the hospitals are not crowded, and so it is safe to come. But there are other issues that need to be addressed too, like, how educated are the helpers and conservancy staff at the hospital on hygiene, especially during this pandemic. Education on hygiene is important for them because they are the ones who are actually working with human excretions. The second issue is about expectant mothers. There are many expectant mothers who want to deliver with me but are forced to reach out to other hospitals near them due to travel restrictions.”

For Muthu Gnanam from Neelankarai, the lockdown brought out a spiritual revelation, “I have learned that I can find spirituality at home itself and not just at temples,” she explains.

Lockdown has also brought in smiles on the faces of some mothers.

Meenakshi playing Carom with her daughters

Meenakshi from Adyar penned down a poem to Adyar Times on her experience. The poem is available on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/adyartimes93/photos/a.1278772815579417/2678662402257111/?type=3&theater. Another parent, Dr. Saraswathi from Adyar, says, “The stress of our work is out. Children get an opportunity to learn household chores rather than running to camps and having a rat race and competitions.”

Teenager Nishka from Central Park South, OMR, and a student of GTA Aloha, couldn’t be happier with the lockdown, “My board exams just got over and I am so happy to be spending time with my family now. Thanks to this lockdown, we are all now eating healthy food as well as we can’t order from outside.”

Niranjana’s mother, from Thiruvanmiyur, is a cancer patient and thus needs to travel to Kilpauk for treatment. Niranjana narrates, “Initially we had issues getting the emergency pass and I had to make a few trips to the Corporation to get it. I would not blame them because they were also new to it. I had to get the pass in the name of the auto-rickshaw driver as well, who generally takes us to the hospital. There are multiple checkpoints on our way to Kilpauk, but with the passes, it was no problem at all. The roads are empty, reducing my travel time drastically.”The government is issuing emergency passes for reasons like marriages, funerals, and medical emergencies. Residents can call 75300 01100 or send an email to gcpcorona2020@gmail.com to avail the passes. Residents would need to submit the reason for the commute along with valid proofs to the authorities, based on which passes would be issued. District collectors and Tahsildars have also been empowered to issue the passes.

K.Prasath of Vettuvankeni is a second-year student at St.Joseph’s Engineering College at Semmencherry.

His exams are scheduled for April 17, but no information has been passed on as to any postponement. Professors are regularly sending him to study material for the exam.

On being asked about how he spends his time, he says he plays two tournaments in chess, online, every day with his Fide Master Vinoth Kumar who runs the K.Q.Academy at Kotturpuram.

But he admits that he never knew sitting at home will be such horrible torture.

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