Updated: Apr 4, 2020
If you're stuck home with your loved ones, it's probably a good time. For me, it's a little different.
I went to the restroom at a restaurant.
I washed my hands, opened the door with my elbow, raised the toilet seat with my foot, switched on the water faucet with a tissue and then opened the bathroom door to leave with my elbow.
When I returned to my table, I realized, "I forgot to pull up my pants!"
I read this forwarded message and laughed. And then I felt a bit sad.
Who was this person?
What would he or worse, she, must have felt?
How are all the corona victims feeling right now?
I collected my thoughts and shut my phone, as I got ready for the first day of my internship.
My first day wasn't very typical. If I were in India, I'd have got away with a graceful Namaste. But in Germany, all I was left with were awkward gestures saying let's avoid handshake.
Only two persons shook hands with me out of reflex. I smiled and offered my sanitizer that I used to carry with me way before people started taking sanitation seriously.
I joined as an intern in science journalism at a reputed media house. So, all the panic around corona came very handy every morning.
But soon, it got real. This wasn't the best time to start an internship anyway, but who knew?
The next day, I felt a lump in my throat.
Chain of thoughts ran in my mind.
I just started my internship, what are they going to think about me?
Is there really a need to go to a doctor?
Where is the nearest doctor who speaks English in this city?
Is it corona?
Whom did I meet yesterday?
I don't want to make lunch, but I need to eat. Mom says don't get food from outside. But I'm starving. Easier said than done.
Let me just go to bed.
I woke up, and the lump was still there.
The next day, I skipped work and went to a doctor at 8 am, hoping I'm the first one to be there.
I was the second patient of the day.
Yet somehow, I managed to piss off the receptionist because I requested a doctor's note to show at work. People around us were probably sympathizing with the receptionist more than me, who was actually sick and weak. Yet I pulled myself together and went straight to buy the medicines. I can never understand why health insurance almost never covers the medicines always prescribed by the doctors. What's the point?
Before I even mentioned this at work, I got a mail in my inbox. Stay at home!
The timing couldn't have been better, you'd think. But I again ran a chain of thoughts.
Oh wow, but will they still give me a salary?
But how do I meet my editors?
How will I create any impression without showing up?
How will I do any work?
How will I cook every day without relying on the office's canteen every day?
My mom will call me to India.
Oh, I just rented an apartment in this new city!
My internship was four hours away from the city in which I used to live. I had just moved to Bonn, Germany.
Should I go back and avoid paying rent in both places?
Saving 600 Euros- and the answer was yes.
Luckily my sore throat didn't get worse, and I managed to take a few days to rest before becoming a backpacker again!
But while people had the luxury to stay in, self-quarantine and fret about it, I had to pack my three 20 kilo bags and leave to my town.
When I started my internship in Bonn, I thought I'm making a new home. I carried EVERYTHING with me. Four pairs of footwear that no one needs in winter, clothes I thought I would wear but who am I kidding, all the cosmetics in the world. Worst, I had done panic buying from supermarkets in Bonn already, without realizing sooner that I'll have to move out.
As I left Bonn, I carried the weight of every single item on my shoulders. I looked for the most recent train I could catch.
After 4 hours and three different connecting trains, I reached the city of the laidback souls- Kleve. Exactly what I needed right now.
I had managed to come four hours away, without a taxi, probably saving myself two months' rent right there. But in Kleve, I broke down.
I had no energy left to walk or smile.
Usually, I smile at strangers if they stare at me. Most Germans smile back too.
But no one really cares if you're low.
I saw my friend from a distance who came for me at the station.
We ran to hug each other without caring about the coronavirus.
I went back home, took a shower, then wrote this.