Life during a Pandemic

By now, anyone who exists on the planet had heard of the global pandemic that is COVID-19. My state has over 10 cases as of March 17th. My county has had 2 cases. My school closed last week and it is going to be closed for 3 weeks. I’m afraid that they will be closing it for the rest of the year! How awful would that be, especially since this is my last year in middle school. So anyways, I am officially in my second day of “self-quarantine” . I am, knock on wood, pretty healthy and so are my parents. This quarantine is only to protect ourselves from getting the virus and/or spreading it to others who have a weaker health. My city hasn’t been locked down yet. I am free to go anywhere but all the big places like libraries and gyms have been shut down. Restaurants are changing to delivery and pick up only. I’m pretty sure that going to malls is banned. In my house, during the times that we aren’t shut up in our respective rooms to work or, in my case study, we are glued to CNN, watching any and every update that is happening. 

But, I’m not here to lecture you on the COVID-19. I wanted to share my story and what I have been thinking during this situation. I first heard about a “mysterious virus affecting China” in the first week of January. I remember watching a video talking about how 2020 was of to a bad start, with the wildfires in Australia, the death of Kobe Bryant and this virus. At the time, I remember thinking, “Wow, I hope 2020 get better!”

(Oh boy if I only knew)

To me, I felt like this virus suddenly became so world wide. One day, the news was talking about cases in China and the next day, BAM, it’s all over Europe. Before I knew it, I woke up one March morning to hear my mom saying, 

“The Coronavirus is in Lexington.”

It was the morning of Dance Blue, an event organized by UK in our school to raise money for cancer patients. Thinking back, that night was probably the last big event for my eighth grade year. 

Only a week after Dance Blue, My eighth grade trip to Chicago that I had been preparing and anticipating for months was cancelled.  My mind was mentally preparing myself the trip being cancelled after I read that there had been several cases in Illinois. It still felt terrible. I felt like the virus had hit too close to home. Now, a week later, I’m stuck at home, my parents are both working from home. Up till today, almost all public places have been shut down, with the exception of our grocery stores. Almost no one is seen outside, which isn’t actually that surprising for Lexington. 

So now what? I am trying to not be too worried or panicked. It is crazy that we are living through something so historically important. I am waiting till thing can go back to normal, however long it takes. I will try and keep updating my blog on the different things that happen. To my readers, remember the three biggest ways to prevent spread of infection- wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face and maintain SOCIAL DISTANCING! Don’t go on a trip to Florida when you know that there have been cases there and you could get infected. Avoid going to a party because it’s your friend’s birthday. 

And please stop hoarding up on toilet paper (spoiler alert- the Coronavirus doesn’t give you bad gas.)

All I can say right now is, stay safe! Try not to worry too much and think about the other.

Moving to America

About a year ago I landed in the state of Kentucky, USA. My mom had been transferred and that meant that the three of us had to pack up our bags, say our goodbyes, lock up our house and move to the US. This past year has been one of the most challenging but exciting years of my life. So if you want to read about my adventures in the land of the free, read on!

My parents had been thinking of moving out of India for a long time. We had considered Canada and my dad had got an offer to move to Singapore from his company. So in the back of my mind I knew that I was going to be moving somewhere, within the next year or so. It was sometime in January, at night when my mom got a call from her boss. He told her about the job offer in America, which would be a huge promotion but also meant she would have to move to Lexington KY, the corporate headquarters of their company. She then told my dad who told me. I would love to say that I took the news well, but I didn’t. I bawled my eyes out at the mere thought of leaving my friends, school and comfortable life to move to this foreign place. Thankfully after I calmed down, I came to my senses and realized what an amazing opportunity this was.

The next six months were probably the weirdest months of that year. I was still kind of in denial that I was going to be moving COUNTRIES in less than a year. I didn’t really put much thought into my position, and I believed “ I don’t have to worry about moving for AGES.” We mainly spent all this time waiting for our visa to get approved and preparing everything and everyone for the move. I also tried spending my last few months in my home spending time with my friends and people who I would be leaving behind there. My friends were also very sweet to me and we spent a lot of time together. Finally on August 6th, my parents and I went in for our visa interview and WE GOT APPROVED

The next few days or rather weeks was a huge world wind. We had to pack up or house, my parents had to fly down to Lexington to get a house and utilities and enrol me into school. The week they were there, I would call them everyday and hear them describing the city and my house and my school. I would see the pictures they would send me and when I think about it now, the pictures gave me an illusion very different from what it was. Life in India became pretty different too. We had to say a lot of goodbyes and host many farewell parties.  The last week I was in school happened to be our examination week. Unfortunately I did have to take the tests, but I didn’t stress about it like my other friends. Hello? I would be living and studying in AMERICA in the next week. I wasn’t worried about whether I passed the Biology test or not.

(Just kidding I did put in a lot of effort into these tests despite everything that was on my mind. Remember to study kids!)

The last day of school was bittersweet for me. We had our language exam that day, so everyone was too busy studying to throw a “Goodbye Zoya!” party for me. I wasn’t complaining. I had thrown a small get-together for my closest friends a couple of days before and they were all the best. The last bell of the day rang, and I left my school, where I spent 10 years of my life, after saying the tearful and hugs-filled goodbyes to my best friends and teachers.

My last day living in India came much sooner than I had expected. Our house was completely empty, baring our suitcases and some furniture we were going to leave behind. Our flight was taking off in the night, so that gave us only a day to bid farewell to our familiar home and friends. The hardest part for me was leaving my nanny. She had been with me for nearly 12 years and unfortunately, she would be leaving us to go back to her home. I knew, in the back of my mind, that I would not be seeing her for a very, very long time.  I was unhappy, obviously, about leaving and it did make me cry one and many times. But the thought of living in the US, a place I have always wanted to go and the thought of adventure that was in store for me entirely outweighed the bad parts.

The Essence of Eid

I have always been celebrating Eid ever since I was a child.  My parents made it a point to celebrate it every year so that I had an exposure to being part of two religious communities. Every year my father would go to the mosque in the morning and after his return my parents would give me Eidi, which is a tradition for elders to give the children some money on Eid morning. Then we would either celebrate the day by having lunch with my paternal cousins or have a small lunch at home with all the traditional Eid sweets. This year however I got to celebrate the festival with my paternal family who celebrate this day with great gusto and excitement. Finally, the day arrived, and I had a marvellous time. With food being cooked and served every two minutes and the fun I had with my cousins, I could easily say that was the best part was the day. However, it was a different sense that made my Eid better. It was the undeniable sense of community that was there. The sense of community is unfortunately something I as a child living in Delhi have never experienced. Everybody in the tiny town got together to celebrate, even those who weren’t Muslim. Everyone decorated and ate together and there was a sense of everyone being together and happy, even if it was only for one day. All anger is forgotten, and a sense of fraternity is created.

That is the true essence of Eid.

 

A Visit to the Doctor

My eyes are red and closed tight,

My knees are shaking and my face is white,

As I sit on the cold seat, I think

Oh dear I’m surely dead meat!

The doctor approaches, his teeth a shiny gleam.

He walks a little closer. I utter a scream

There it was, a needle as sharp as a knife

I tremble. my body drained of its life

The needle was inches from my skin

And there it went, smoothly in

I scream and shout with all my might,

I must have made quite a sight

Three seconds later the doctor says ” All done!”

His face as red as the  afternoon sun

He cries “Now time for the second one!”

What’s Perfect Anyways?

 

 “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind”

When I first read this quote, I was an immature fifth grader and these words meant nothing to me. It was only when I experienced tough situations of my own did I understand the meaning of this quote. Some people feel that this quote only implies to people with ‘unusual problems’ like Auggie, from the book where this quote comes from. However, I disagree. This quote not only means being kind to people who others force you to believe need sympathy but anyone or anything. Kindness to me is like a medicine, people say they do not want it but inside they know that they need it. The choice between being right and being wrong for the sake of being “kind” is a choice no person can make easily, but being right and hurting someone’s feelings can also make you feel ten times worse than being wrong but kind. That is why I believe that this quote is one that can make a difference in the way people behave.

An example can be if there is a certain child who is from an underprivileged background and he/she has joined a school. The child is less clever and cannot read as well as the other students who come from privileged backgrounds. Initially during classes, the child is getting lower marks compared to others. In this situation the teacher has two ways to approach the child and give him/her the feedback. The teacher can either tell the child in the same way he/she tells other students, writing a strict note to the parents with the truth written in clear words ‘Your child is unable to perform properly etc.’, which is the ‘right’ way. Or he/she could take the “kind” approach and give the child a gentle and empathetic feedback and let the child know what he/she needs to do better without making the child feel bad. The reason here is a simple one, the child is less experienced than the other students who come from privileged backgrounds, thus initially he/she has difficulty in scoring higher marks or doing as good as the other students. Thus, the approach, I feel, should be the kind one in this case.

Another example of a situation which would be better if people were kind would be from the book ‘Fish in a Tree’, which is about a girl who is dyslexic and is treated like an outsider because of this by the students and teachers alike, causing her to start feeling self-conscious and embarrassed. Only one teacher and student pair are kind to her and notice the true artist that is hidden behind the taunted girl.

“I come with no wrapping or fancy bows.

I am who I am, from my head to my toes.

I tend to get loud when speaking my mind.

Even a little crazy sometimes

Mistakes are human or so that’s what they say.

Well, tell me what’s perfect anyways?”

I had written this essay as a submission for a writing competition organized by Readomania. The article I wrote was also selected as the top ten most promising writeups and I also won a scholarship to a Writer’s Retreat. Noted author Siddartha Gigoo was also one of the judges and was part of the writers’ retreat.

https://www.readomania.com/story/whats-perfect-anyways

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Greek Holiday: Athens

I recently went to the country Greece for my summer holidays. I have always wanted to visit Greece after reading about it and devouring Greek mythology. I visited Athens and Santorini, two of the most popular place to go to in Greece, I would be happy to share my adventure with you!!
My trip started of when I landed in Athens at midnight. I was too excited to be asleep and my parents and grandmother were quite annoyed with my constant chatter. But our host was amused at my interest in greek history. I was delighted to see that our hotel was quite near the main city tourist spots. It was a wonderful location.
The next day we visited the main square of Athens Monasthiraki square. We, my parents,my grandmother , our host, Mr. Lampros and me, had a walking tour of the area near our home. We saw the roman market, ancient agora, the parliament house, the place where the great Socrates gave his speeches and many more places. It was amazing. I met my aunt who had come from USA and we went home.
The next day we went to the ancient temple of Apollo. The name is the temple of Apollo or the oracle of Delphi. Some quick history…he oracle of Delphi was the place where the god who could see the future, Apollo, would send his predictions down to earth and the person who received the messages, the priest, would then pass the prediction on to the mortals waiting to hear!
There was a lot of climbing after we finished the tour of the Delphi museum. The ancient Greeks built there temples way up hill. The same thing for the Parthenon which we were going to visit the next day. But in the end it was worth every bit of it. The view of the oracle was stunning and made me very happy. After a few (..thousand!) images me and my family were back in Athens to rest after this long journey.
You just cannot visit Athens without seeing the acropolis!! It is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel tower. That is what me and my family were going to do today! We headed off to the acropolis centre at around breakfast. After a quick bite at a local café, we ready to climb the acropolis hill. And as I mentioned earlier, there was a LOT OF CLIMBING!!! Me and my dad sprinted ahead and my mom and aunt were a couple of steps away. My grandma decided to stay back and watch us climb. Around an hour later me and my dad reached the top of the acropolis hill where the acropolis,
The Parthenon and main temple of Athena was situated. This was the best thing I had ever seen and all the climbing was quite worth it. I was thrilled at the sight of the beautiful remains of the ancient greek temples, I felt so happy and in a way satisfied because I knew that all the preparation and reading I had been doing on this acropolis was all true. The way back down was easy and all of us were very cheerful and decided to do some shopping in the acropolis museum. I bought a beautiful headband that looked exactly like a wreathe. We caught up with my grandma who had already started going through the museum and saw all the artefacts and extravaganza that the acropolis museum had for us. We all headed back after the museum to the hotel rest after this truly amazing day!!!