Exams have ended today. My friends and I were going to celebrate the end of our semester. A group-mate from one of my classes says he needs to buy a mask before he leaves to China tomorrow. Apparently, there has been a virus outbreak in China. We try a couple of pharmacies and see that they are selling it in bulk and he thinks it’s ridiculous to buy that many masks when he’s going home anyway. A few blocks later, we find a store selling a pack of 5 and he buys them. We go on to have dinner and celebrate before going home.
Two cases of corona have been confirmed in Italy. Two Chinese tourists travelled to Rome and showed symptoms. They are now isolated and all flights to China are suspended. My friends and I have started looking for masks but they’re sold out in all places we tried. It’s alright, it’s just those two cases and they’re being monitored. Things are under control. My parents start to worry though. Call frequency increases because I’m now on my semester break and corona has reached Italia. Number of cases in China is increasing by the day. I wonder how my classmates would get back in time for classes if things continue this way.
The world is crazy. A picture of a woman having bat soup from 4 years ago has suddenly resurfaced and gone viral. People think it’s the Chinese who created this virus on purpose. Or worse, it started with that bat soup picture from 4 years ago. WTF? Yeah. Racism towards them is at its peak. I mean, even I’ve seen it in person and it’s sad. I’m on holidays and I haven’t really seen around Milan much, so that’s what I’ve been up to. My friend tags along sometimes. We are discussing plans to go to Aosta valley for a day trip. My friends still have their exams so I leave to Munich for a week to spend time with my brother.
I’ve been travelling around Germany and spending time with my brother. It’s refreshing to be away from the Corona discussion. There’s no case in any other European country yet. Things in Italy seem to be under control I have another two weeks of holidays so I’m brushing up on some soft skills and learning a bit of Italian. We received our first notice from the university about corona. I didn’t understand a word. It seemed like they’re not really addressing anything but saying something to keep us convinced they’re taking precaution. IYKWIM
I’m back in Milan. I wanted to travel a bit with my friends before classes start. Will Smith is in Milan for the fashion week, haha. My friends and I leave to Aosta valley for a day’s trip with hopes of burying our faces in snow. Did we find snow? We did. Did we bury our faces? Just one of us did. 79 cases have been confirmed in Lombardy. The region which houses Milan. We freak out, sort of, and decide to stay indoors for a few days because neither of us managed to score a mask yet. But guess what? I don’t see anyone wearing a mask. Where the fuck are the masks? We received a notice from the university saying our classes will be postponed for another week.
110 cases in Lombardy. People have started to flee. Airports and train stations are packed. My friends and I are debating on whether we should stay or leave. I convince myself that at the worst case I’ll just go to Munich. I don’t think going to India is right at the moment. I’m going to follow my gut. All the roommates of all my friends have left. Even those who just returned for the new semester a day ago. Canned goods are running out. I mean, how much beans can you eat, guys? It’s strange to see these empty aisles in supermarkets. 152 cases now. 1 dead. The Indian consulate has asked us to register as an Indian student stranded in Milan. I realize, I don’t have health insurance in Germany so I can’t really go there. My parents have started panicking. Upon their instructions, I have now included turmeric more than usual in my daily diet.
Classes have been further postponed. Panic is spreading in class group chats. We’re reading all sorts of news, some fake, some not. 231 cases right now. 2 cases confirmed in Milan. But why the fuck is everyone still going about their life like it’s fucking Christmas holidays?! No one seems to understand the seriousness of the situation. We’ve been given holidays to stay indoors and what do people do? Go and fucking party. Flights to and from Iran have been cancelled. Iran is the 2nd worst affected in the world. India has issued a notice saying Indians in Italy should avoid going back. A few European countries have started reporting their first cases. My friends and I video call each other every morning to make sure we’re alive. But surprisingly, there isn’t much shown in Indian news. No one apart from my parents have called. 528 cases and 14 deaths. Want to hear something crazy? Recovered patients are testing positive again. Damn.
I stepped out to get some groceries and when I returned, the receptionist didn’t let me back in. He said someone in my dorm had been taken to get tested. A few minutes later he tells me that it was my flatmate and the ambulance has taken her. Take a guess on what the other people waiting there did? THEY RAN FOR THEIR LIVES. Lol. A nerve wracking couple of hours later the test turned out negative! She just panicked. Friend no. 1 left to Dubai. 2 cases have been reported in India. From where? Italy of course. And now steps in, the Indian media. followed by multiple calls and texts of concern from my Indian fam. Friend no. 2 left to Dubai. Online courses have kicked off and seems great. We have group work and assignments as usual. People are still taking strolls, walking dogs and babies. Kids are playing football and smoking. The usual Italian scene. Everyone but the Italians are panicking. Upon parent’s instructions, I have now started consuming Rasam every day.
News of quarantining Lombardy has leaked and the entire region has tried to flee. People broke into and set fire to a prison because they weren’t allowed to visit their kin. 6 dead from that. The locals are doing everything except staying indoors and I just don’t understand. WHY? Friend no. 3 left to India. 10 cases in India have been reported. Lombardy has been declared as red zone. People in India are lying about their travel history to avoid quarantine. I’m still staying put. All flights to India from Italy have been cancelled. Americans and Australians are fighting over toilet paper. Thank god for the bidet here. Can the world, at least now switch to the health faucet? (Indians can take a bow here). 366 deaths in Lombardy in spite of the lock down. People are still outdoors. I had a conversation with a local about why he’s so “chill” and he said “I’m not going to die, let the oldies worry” I’m not even kidding. Who exactly is spreading it to the oldies? A majority of the Italian families have at least one senior citizen living with them. Carelessness at its peak. The entire country is declared as red zone.
I see news from other countries saying amidst the lock-down in Italy, people are dying indoors and no one to help them. I’m not sure if that’s true or I’m privileged because I’m writing this from the center of the red zone. And people here do not give a flying fuck. No masks. No quarantine. India has rescued 200 Indians from Milan and Rome and quarantined them in Delhi. My hometown, Bangalore has declared a lock-down as a test after it reported its first case. Online classes are going as per schedule. Servers are crashing. Italy is now number 2 on the list of worst hit countries. I see the number of people outdoor reduced quite a bit. Deaths are doubling every day. 10 people are allowed at a time in the supermarkets. The rest wait in queues with 1m distance. All public areas of my dorm have been taped shut like a crime scene. Parks are closed. People have started to listen, guys. There’s finally hope. We even had a little balcony party last night. People came out on their balconies and sang and danced. It was heartwarming. The death rate is still high. 27000 cases and 2000 deaths. Italy is now the worst affected country. But I think there’s hope because today the street was finally empty.
If you are in any other country and not taking this seriously, I urge you to snap out of it and take precautions immediately. We got here in five days. FIVE DAYS. You still have time. Stay indoors. There are more active cases here than in China at the moment. With just a quarter of the total number of cases in China, we have almost the same number of deaths. Do what you can WHEN YOU CAN.