As I landed in Paro [in Bhutan] yesterday, I was aware that all passengers would be in quarantine for the next 14 days. But living it in the real sense shook me off the ground. I felt plagued straightaway as soon as I landed.
Everybody stayed away from the passengers — at least a metre’s distance — and yet ensured that all instructions were met. After the physical check-ups and paperwork were done, they ushered us in to a big bus — 19 of us driving 10 minutes away from the city to an isolated hotel/resort. Empty hotel, masked staff and health officials were scattered everywhere. I was assigned a single room while family members shared a room between two.
I showered and felt that the 14 days would pass soon. But after the first hour, I started getting anxious. The instructions pasted on the wall got me thinking. The do’s and don’ts were pretty scary. It was morning when we reached the hotel and we had the entire day to ourselves.
I tried to take a forced nap but couldn’t sleep. How can anybody be locked up in a room for two weeks? Medical officials knocked and took my temperature and details of my medical history. They said they would visit twice a day. Numbers stated I was fine.
I walked around the room’s bed to the sofa to the mirror to the table to the waste bin to the wardrobe, and back to the bed, just thinking and thinking. They come to clean the room and clear trash every 3-4 days. How? Why? What can I do in the next 14 days locked up with all the rubbish in?
They knocked and left the food packets outside the door. Food was bland and tasted like hospital food. Although I was hungry in the tummy, I couldn’t swallow it, because the taste was not appealing at all. I thought to myself, ‘I have to get used to it, so close your eyes, breathe deep and swallow’. That helped.
I called up and messaged my entire world in the next couple of hours. I had been away for over a week and had no fresh clothes — family could deliver clothes the next day but I couldn’t remove anything out of my room. Crazy, I thought to myself.
I slept alright, though very late than my usual timing. I woke up early, cleaned room myself, did my practice and meditation, chatted with family, had my breakfast and now making plans on how to make the most of the next 13 days I have to myself.
All the while, I also had the thought inside me — I am doing this and am helping myself and somebody around me. Relax, chill and meditate.
I made up my mind to try living a ‘sanyasi’ life for the next two weeks. I had tools to help me get through. Yoga practice, meditation and great family and friends to talk to if I needed to. I had a roof over my head and food to help me continue life. Plus, this is temporary and a precautionary helpful measure to help.
Scary thoughts about what if I contracted the virus keeps crossing my mind every time I cough. But again, I feel I am now in a good, safe place and I am strong, inside out. I know I am monitored regularly and in good hands now. I do not need to worry. I just need to take each day at a time, dive more inwards every day and come out better, brighter, cleaner and happier after the 14 days of self-time. Thank you, Bhutan government, for this measure that you are trying to take to help save me and every other national in this country. I and my family are with you to help how and where we can.
(Born in Sikkim, Ranjana Pradhan is currently residing in Thimphu, Bhutan. She is a yoga instructor by profession and has been teaching yoga everywhere she travels. She is now in quarantine after flying back from Kathmandu to Bhutan. She is determined to stay in and help herself and everyone around. Views expressed are personal)
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