Post 51: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…

…on human interactions in the future

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 51. 


COVIDIOTS

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Today in #Beirut, it was the first day of the second phase of lockdown easing. Restaurants are open today, with many restrictions. So are many other small businesses, such as barbers. Hairdressers will open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, while barbers can open on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Having a “necessary” errand to run, I went out thinking things would still be quiet on the corner of the American University of Beirut. But alas, it was mayhem. We are back to the double parking, but worse yet, everyone I encountered had no social distancing on their minds nor were wearing face masks. Gloves are a thing of the past.

On the way back, I encountered a lady going up in the elevator. She did not have on a mask or gloves, and she stood as close to me as possible. I freaked out. This is the second time during these lockdowns that I freak out because someone is not maintaining social distancing with me. The first one was at the bank a couple of months ago. And when I lose my s%*^,  it is not a pretty sight.

I was hoping the Lebanese people will follow the instructions for the phase-in of openings and would adhere to the guidelines by the Ministry of Health. I was also hoping that the police would be more visible in monitoring. I was hoping that all the efforts of the poor Minister of Health, who has managed to help us contain the virus in Lebanon, with fewer than 750 cases despite the protests.

So how do I see human interactions changing in the future? I simply don’t, with so many Covidiots around.

Essentially, this means I am going to keep on losing my s%*^ and freaking out. I suppose my view on the change in human interaction means I will be staying home for a long time to come.


Thanks to the pandemic

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

I’ve gotten a bit metaphysical about the pandemic lately. I’m wondering if the pandemic is Mother Nature and the Universe bringing some balance back into our insane world.

  1. Thanks to the pandemic, we’re not likely to go back to being smushed into overcrowded planes.
  2. Thanks to the pandemic, we may seriously consider doing something about the overcrowded highways. How many people now teleworking wanna go back to sitting in traffic for two hours when the trip should only take twenty minutes?
  3. Thanks to the pandemic, continuing to telework could give parents extra time for the working/life balance they want.
  4. Thanks to the pandemic, we’re probably going to be seeing automakers bow to making less polluting cars sooner rather than later.
  5. Thanks to the pandemic, families are spending more time together.
  6. Thanks to the pandemic, people are going outside more and walking off some of the hours spent at the computer.
  7. Thanks to the pandemic, colleges are looking at lowering their bloated tuition costs.
  8. Thanks to the pandemic, scurrilous lenders may no longer be able to keep students indentured to student loan debt for the rest of their lives.
  9. Thanks to the pandemic, kids being bullied at school are getting a break from the misery.
  10. Thanks to the pandemic, parents are having to home-school their kids. That’s going to up teacher appreciation and maybe their salaries.
  11. Thanks to the pandemic, the overheated stock market is cooling its jets.
  12. Thanks to the pandemic, karma is having a bit of a laugh at folks who belittled Muslim women for covering their faces. Now we’ve all gotta cover our faces when we go out.
  13. Thanks to the pandemic, online dating is less about the quick hookup and more about getting to know someone first.
  14. Thanks to the pandemic, we see that Mother Nature sees us all the same. She doesn’t care if you live on Nob Hill or a rented trailer. She’ll kick anyone’s butt when she chooses.
  15. Thanks to the pandemic, we have time to reflect on what we really want out of life and not wait till later to go for it, because if there will be a later.

My list could be twice as long, but I’ll stop here. I want the deaths from the pandemic to stop. I don’t want to go back to the way life was before the pandemic.


The new “normal” and the elderly

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

We all keep talking about the new “normal” and how it will be different after the lockdown. I think young people will welcome it. After all, weren’t they born with an iPhone and iPad in their hands? Isn’t social media already their mode of communication?

Weren’t many give debit cards as soon as they were old enough to use one to spend their allowance? Do they even know what a check is? What about the elderly?

I am 76 years old, and I don’t even think of myself as elderly. I believe I am fairly computer literate; my son may disagree with that. He gets a call from me every once in a while—I need IT support, please. At least I hope I say please, sometimes I am so upset that I have no idea what comes out of my mouth.

Retrieved via Internet search.
No copyright infringement intended.

I have friends, some even younger than me, who only have a flip phone; some friends have no cell phone at all. Just yesterday, I paid my bills online. Yet I have friends who still write checks and even balance a checkbook. One friend had to go to the bank last week to cash a check. I asked why? Just take a picture of the check. I have to admit, I was skeptical of doing that the first time I tried. I still haven’t tried Zelle. That’s been out a couple years now, so I am behind.

With the new “normal” being more and more computerized, automatic, and impersonal—don’t forget social distancing. How will the elderly and computer-challenged (I like that instead of illiterate) be able to function? One way is for those around them to be helpful by teaching and reteaching, patiently, and understanding. Simple things for the younger generation are complex for many of the older generation. While so many things are advancing, there needs to be a way to make the way we do things backward-compatible for those who did not grow up with a computer in hand.

When I think of all the problems in the world, this doesn’t even seem important. There are also simple solutions. I wish there were simple solutions to the other problems in the world. I am forever hopeful.


Hello!

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I remember the first few weeks of the outbreak, everyone felt so awkward. Familiar greetings like shaking hands and hugging were now questionable. We threw an uncomfortable air hug when seeing someone for the first time in a while. Followed by some embarrassed laughter hoping they didn’t consider it weird. We left people hanging when they extended a hand for a simple handshake. Thinking “You must be joking, I’m not touching you.”

Now it is universally understood that we keep our distance and have no physical contact. Everyone is anticipating that post-corona this lack of physical contact will become the new normal, and we will forever stop our intimate greetings.

I disagree. Most humans are programmed to hug and kiss. We feel better when we are physically intimate. So I believe we will continue distancing for only a few weeks, and then we will fall right back to the way we were pre-corona.

I have always said we are a nation of amnesiacs. We have a short-term memory when dealing with crises. Life will be bizarre for a while, but this will pass. We will forget all the crap we had to go through, forget how people suffered, forget the dead, and slip right back into the way we were. Huggers will be huggers, the touchy-feely will continue as before, and germaphobes will be ….. well….they probably will be more accepted.


Social un-distancing

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Is it really Day 51 of lockdown? Was there really a global pandemic? Just a few days ago, social distancing was the rule. You wore gloves, you maybe wore a mask, you washed your hands obsessively, you stayed away from other people. OK, you cheated by going to the grocery store a little more than necessary. But you did NOT gather in large groups, hug your besties, or do the mwah mwah as you greeted your friends.

Today, we are un-distancing at an alarming pace. Kisses and hugs are spreading as fast as the coronavirus did. At the beach, the crowded boardwalk is happy and full of life, with all the elderly, little kids, teenagers, and young adults going out to socialize. Clearly, our newfound freedom is something to celebrate, even though just a few days ago, we were crippled with fear of physical contact. Hello, neighbor, kiss, kiss; hello cousin, hug, hug.

What else will we forget? What will change? Here are some predictions for the long-ish term:

  1. Business and Work: More people will telecommute and start businesses. Location-independence and the digital nomad lifestyle will become the norm. At the same time, the number of those Chained to a Corporate Desk will dwindle.
  2. Travel: Back to the old normal after much dramatic fretting, lobbying, and feeble attempts to sanitize trains, planes, and buses. There will be half-hearted efforts to make travel affordable again. After price hikes and much wringing of hands, we’ll see special deals for romantic getaways and luxury business travel. Cruises will make a comeback.
  3. Bureaucracy and Paperwork: YAY! I predict that standard processes will be significantly streamlined as government and other institutions implement more sophisticated automated systems.
  4. Dining Out: Back to business as usual in a couple of months. It’s too difficult to eat in when the weather is glorious.
  5. Interpersonal Relationships: The business handshake might take a while to make a comeback, but physical greetings among friends and family are already back. We miss our people, and an elbow bump just doesn’t convey how much we love them.

These are a few notions based on what I’ve seen in the past two days. But here’s the thing: If we can’t maintain social distancing just a couple of days after total lockdown, where will we be in a week? A month??

Here’s a final prediction: if we’re not really, really careful, we’ll have a second wave that will propel us into another lockdown. I know our survival instincts make us rebound quickly from short-term adversity. But what I’m observing is long-term folly.

Please #StaySafe.


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Post 43: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 43. 

Today: free-form writing.

Burqas

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

I’ve decided I want to wear a burqa when I go out now in this time of the #Coronavirus. Actually, I’ve always wanted to wear one. When I lived in London, many of the women in my apartment building wore them. They looked so elegant as they headed over to Selfridge’s in their Jimmy Choo shoes. You could see a sliver of their high-end jeans. And their eye makeup was spectacular.

I’m thinking wearing a burqa now when I leave the house would be the perfect way to face this insane world we’re living in. First, it would cover up the goofy state of my hair. It would give me an excuse to gussie up my face with great, colorful, and cheerful eye makeup. That would lift my spirits. It would be the perfect excuse to go online and buy some fetching shoes. And there would be no need to wear a crumpled up medical mask anymore.

I’m going to hop online now and start looking for some of those fetching shoes.


Feeling Like the Last Person on Earth

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

Today I felt like I had to go someplace. I have stayed home and have not driven in a month, would I know how? I decided to go up to the ski resort, as I didn’t want to be around people. I am doing the best I can at social distancing. I didn’t know it would be as isolated as it turned out to be. The ski resort is only 17 miles from my house. After 7 miles, there were no other cars. Then it started raining. The road was blocked into the lodge; I could see the ski lift but not the mountains because of the clouds. It was so eerie! I felt like I was the last person on Earth. There have been many movies and books with this theme – I felt like I was living in one of them. Perhaps, if I really wasn’t the last person – if I could find a few others in other isolated areas.  Could we learn from this and start living together and create a better world?  I hope so. 

Then I drove back home and to reality.  I still have hope though.


“We are (not) all in this together”

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Listening to the radio while in my car, I hear musicians talking about the #Coronavirus and pontificating about our need to stay home and stay safe, followed by “We are all in this together.” This is now the new catchphrase to make the general public feel better about their situation. It is used in public service announcements and commercials, and by celebrities reaching out to reassure the public: “we feel your pain. Don’t worry, we are all in this together.” But clearly, we are not all in it together. The celebrities, politicians, and musicians are not in the same fight as the middle class and they are even more detached from the millions of the underserved, low- income people in this country.

How does the celebrity shut down in their mansion with a fully stocked pantry and sipping margaritas by their beautiful pool think they are in it together with middle-class America? And how does middle-class America sitting in their comfortable homes, lucky enough to have a little nest egg saved for a rainy day, think they are in it together with the impoverished? And how are the impoverished in it with the homeless? Whoever initiated the slogan may have intended to create a sense of solidarity among Americans, but instead has accentuated the real “social distancing” present in this country.

No, Bruce Springsteen (whom I absolutely adore), you are not making us feel better discussing how you and Patti are coping with the shutdown, passing the time riding your horses. No, Nancy Pelosi, we do not need to see your freezer with your overindulgent stash of ice cream.

I know that action is being taken by some businesses to help. For example, several credit card companies are waiving their fees and deferring due dates. And nonprofit organizations proactively raising money to help different sectors of the population. One of those is José Andrés, a world-renowned Chef and founder of World Central Kitchen, an organization that helps feed people during natural disasters. A commendable way to give back to your community.

However, the longer the economy remains closed, the more desperate the situation will become. The other day I read someone’s brilliant opinion on how the government should stop getting paid and live on $1,200 for 10 weeks. Maybe then, more of us can be in this together.


How I see Lebanon lockdown easing…

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

In the state of Georgia, some residents’ main relief is that they can now go bowling. Oh, I am so happy for them…

On the other hand, we in Lebanon are spending the day anticipating what our future will hold, as of tomorrow, when the easing of lockdown begins. Will we be able to afford food and staples with the continuous rise of the Lebanese Pound against the greenback when the government declared war on the Central Bank on Friday night? Will we be able to afford to pay our insurance, car repair, double electricity bills? Bowling is not on our minds…

The government declared a five-phase easing of lockdowns with weekly assessments. This comes after a week of fewer coronavirus victims, but we spiked yesterday with 8 new cases and 2 deaths.

No, we shouldn’t be loosening the restrictions. Not because I am enjoying being cooped up, not because people are not starving because of the lockdowns, not because of anything. But during this holy month of #Ramadan, with the daily iftars and souhours (meal before dawn), people are going to head out, either to socialize or to buy food or to demonstrate against the spike in prices and the flailing greenback.

This, in a country where only last week, demonstrations picked up and protesters wore no masks, no gloves, and observed no distancing in many poorer regions of the country. This, in a country where more than 4,000 expats will be coming back in 2 weeks from all over the world. All this, when ignorance and hunger precede lockdown restrictions.

As I am writing, I can hear the police sirens on the Beirut Corniche warning people to go home. The lockdowns are broken already! We live in a mayhem society, and teaching the public how things will proceed is as essential, if not more essential, than lifting restrictions and easing lockdowns.

Unless we can educate, monitor our phase ins and outs, we will be heading into a worse disaster than the greenback and the Lebanese Lira.


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Post 19: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

We’re a group of friends and family in various parts of the world, and we’re sharing our experiences and thoughts while on lockdown, in quarantine, or self-isolation. Join us!

Hi…keefak…ça va?

RJD, Beirut, Lebanon

This is how the Lebanese greet one another, in a multi-language mode. English, Arabic, and French. The Lebanese are an amazing, adaptable, intelligent, and resilient lot.

This resilience is something I have the utmost respect for. Not much respect for much else that is happening in this country, but resilience – lots of respect. 

#Lebanon has always and will always be, a geo-political epicenter. A very open and supposedly democratic country in the otherwise closed up Middle East. Survival is a gene, not a modus operandi. From the days of Alexander the Great to the civil war to the current political turmoil the Lebanese have a fatalistic approach to life. Come what may…anything is better than what we have now…to me, the Lebanese gods must be crazy. 

Towards the end of each month, direct debit salaries are deposited into our accounts and since the total fiasco of our banking system, we can only withdraw at the ATM. This week, everyone went to collect their salaries and social distancing became a thing of the past. I totally agree that people need their money specially during this lockdown. But to see #COVID-19 spreading at every ATM and in busy streets is beyond acceptable. 

Part of the problem in this country is that no one in power ever had any logic. So many of our problems can and should be resolved with simple implementation of logic and follow up (which we don’t do well due to corruption). 

An example of this is double parking. The police are required to give tickets for double parking, but the places that people double park at, bribe the police with food, drinks, and cigarettes. No accountability. I will not discuss the no-smoking in public places and how that fell down like a house of cards.

Our current curfew states that Corona travels only between 7 pm and 5 am, it sleeps during the day when most people are out and about. 

What I do not respect, though, is the defiant attitude of some. Those who feel they are immune to the #Coronavirus. Those who are too poor and need to work (I totally respect them) but are willing to risk their lives and the lives of their close ones (that’s my problem with them). Those who feel that politics supersede Corona. We are not infallible. 

But solutions are available during this lockdown if we use our greatest asset: the resilient Lebanese brain:

  1. Curfew all day with different regions allowed a 3-hour window to run errands on different days. 
  2. Police or municipality officials standing at ATMs and shops to maintain social distancing. Oversight is required by responsible citizens or police officers (with no bribes!)
  3. Police or our army surrounding non-curfew regions so no flow of traffic happens between areas.
  4. Official passes that can be obtained online for essential workers to travel between regions. No special favors or bribes again! 
  5. Official passes that can be obtained by taxi drivers allowing them to work in certain areas on certain days. This can be organized by license plate numbers.
  6. Penalties and fines for those who break the law.

I know many fellow responsible citizens have other ideas and I would love to hear them so that we can present a plan to some of the  illogical people running the show. 

I can’t hear anymore so-called experts on daily shows saying absolutely nothing that we don’t already know. Action is required and is a must and only we, the responsible citizens, can implement this “general mobilization” into a real solution. 

My plan for the future, once we go back to normalcy, is for another day. But since we are known for our resilience, I am hoping that I will be resilient enough to do it one day. Baby steps.

Yalla…good night cheri.

This is what Beirut looks like under lockdown.
Photo retrieved from The961.com

Food for thought

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

Today I’m feeling guilty. Here I am in the Western world, upset that I have had to stay home in my warm, comfortable house. Listening to the news coverage on tv about our insufficient hospital supplies and frustrated by the lack of a home delivery time slot from Whole Foods. 

How shallow am I?

What about the others in less developed countries? I think of them daily, but I never stopped to really comprehend the gravity of their destitution. 

There are refugees all over the world living in makeshift housing. Many live in tents because they fled their war-torn countries and are living in such close quarters with no access to electricity, soap, or clean water. Do they even have access to physicians? 

I wonder who looks out for them. 

Who is caring for the people of Africa who are always hit hard by most epidemics? I’ve read that some countries that have one ventilator per every 200,000 people if they are lucky.

What about the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who live under occupation? Gaza is 20 miles long and 5-7 miles wide and inhabited by almost 2 million people. The inhabitants of Gaza have been under Israeli military blockade and “lockdown” for decades. They have limited access to the outside world. And now the coronavirus has made its way into Gaza. 

This #Coronavirus does not discriminate based on ethnicity nor religion. But it still hits the poor and underprivileged the hardest and with a lack of basic recourses, it can be devastating. 

The UN and the WHO and the IMF are all predicting that the outcome of the pandemic will be catastrophic in developing countries and areas where healthcare is non-existent. They are asking the Western world to step up and help financially. 

Meanwhile, a news headline flashes on my phone. There are now 6.6 million people who have filed for unemployment in the USA. 

I saw this today and thought, how true! 


RafifJ is taking a little break tonight…but says,

Thank you for reading our blog! All feedback welcome. If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here. 

Post 5: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

And now we’re four! A few friends and I are chronicling our experiences during the lockdowns, quarantines, and other restrictions due to the #COVID-19 pandemic. Tonight we write from Falls Church, VA, and Fairfax, VA, USA; Beirut, Lebanon; and Malaga, Spain. Special credit to Mayya S. in Herndon, VA, who came up with the idea for us to share our experiences. Care to join us? 

From Roula in Falls Church, VA

My intuition tells me that the Washington Metropolitan Area will go on some kind of lockdown in the next 24 hours. Everything is pointing in that direction. So once again, my son and I ventured out for a few groceries and bread in the morning and we took a walk around the neighborhood later in the afternoon – just to observe.

The atmosphere here is still mixed. About half the people seem to be going about things normally, or at least visibly trying to hold on to the last moments of normal. The other half are wearing masks, which emphasize the fear and suspicion in their eyes. It’s unsettling because we haven’t tipped over yet and it seems the shaming of people who haven’t “gotten with the program” is beginning to emerge in the local media.

My son and I live in a 535-unit high-rise condominium building that is home to 1,200+ residents and employs about 50 staff. Things are getting tense around here, especially with the high number of residents over the age of 70 (including my own mama – a blessing!). Housekeeping staff disinfect “high-touch” surfaces every hour or so, and the management office is locked down. The manager and 2 assistants are there but a big sign at the door directs residents to communicate by phone or email. In one of our elevator rides, a woman stood against the corner and held her breath all the way down to the lobby from the 15th floor!

I teach yoga on the scenic rooftop of our building. Last week, I scrubbed and disinfected all blocks, straps, and eye-pillows. A handful of yogis showed up, and we set up the mats at least 4 feet apart. The yogis were hopeful that we continue with yoga through this thing, but I’m not sure we’ll be allowed to.

Blog 5-Francis_CoronaIt’s really tough navigating this thing solo with my 10-year-old son. There’s so much to balance: his learning, food, activities, play, physical activity, etc. Not to mention keeping this whole situation in an age-appropriate perspective for his delicate mind. I also have to police him and keep him on some kind of routine, as well as be his playmate. It’s an exhausting mental and physical see-saw.

These days, my sanity comes from long chats with friends, Win Hof method breathing, journaling, reading, yoga, cooking, cleaning (yes, cleaning!), watching Netflix, hot Epsom/lavender baths, cold showers, and nature walks with my son where the best versions of us emerge and engage.  I honestly don’t care how strict any lockdown is going to be. As long as we can still get out into nature, we’ll survive.

Inward, outward, and onward!

***

From Tina F. in Fairfax, VA

Today I wanBlog 5 Tinat to focus on all the “positive” aspects of what we are about to face in the inevitable lockdown in the USA. Check out this list! A fine outline of beautiful togetherness.

BUT the reality in my household is it feels like we are all in Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit. (If you are not familiar with it, please look it up).

We have a LONG way to go to get to this idea of happiness in togetherness.

Our reality is the TV is on loud, the music is on loud, those who are attempting to read cannot focus. Conversations lead to arguments. Yes, my friends, “ Hell is other people.”

Of course, that’s a bit exaggerated. But honestly, I’m not sure if people can just suddenly change. As Marianne Williamson put it, we have become an ADD nation. We cannot just sit and contemplate on our lives. If my family is unique to this outcome of togetherness, then we have a lot to learn. We are 4 individuals who have led independent lives. We have taken our social standards for granted. This should be a humbling experience.

I am fully aware of the resources out there of meditation, breathing, yoga, and self-care, and I can implement those as need be. But the real question is, how do you teach an old dog new tricks? Many people still think that all of those things are woo woo.

This is early days yet, and as we face more restrictions, it should become more interesting. If more people, including my family, learn to turn inward to find peace, then maybe we will come out of this as a better nation.

***

From RJD in Beirut, Lebanon

Philosophy Day: Blog 5_Rana_Sea ViewEnjoy each day and live it to the fullest Don’t think about the past, look to the future. What goes around, comes around. Live in the moment. The power of now.

As I drink my coffee this morning and stare at the sea, I listen to the louder stillness and start thinking about life and what is yet to come. What lessons should the world learn from the #Coronavirus pandemic?

  1. Gaza has been on lockdown for years. Is it time we realize that we need to be compassionate and put politics aside? Give peace a chance?
  2. Refugees all over the world fleeing from their countries…
  3. Climate change…look at the canals in Venice, the clearer skies in Wuhan
  4. War machines…
  5. Is it time we stop the greed (look at how Wall Street tumbled) and start being more communal with wealth?
  6. Is it time we gave up being selfish beings and start being more charitable?
  7. It is time to stop attacking the core of this planet lest it unleash its wrath…

When I look at how the Lebanese, who can’t count on their government, helped each other during the peak of the revolution, my heart opens. When I see individuals putting their lives at risk to run errands, for free, for those who can’t, I cry. When, we as a people, replaced basic services that the government hasn’t provided to help one another, I have hope.

World leaders, greedy corrupt politicians, and CEOs need to be held accountable for #Coronavirus and much more. So instead of sitting at home feeling sorry for ourselves, we should be coming up with a plan forward that will make this planet a better place. We need to save Mother Earth from us. And we need to hurl each and every one of those who got us here to oblivion.

Meantime, I am on strike: Not wearing a bra until this is over!

***

From @rafifj in Malaga, Spain

BREAKING RUMOR: The Spanish government may extend the lockdown to April 11. Not a rumor: The number of #coronavirus cases in Spain has surged past 17,000. This chilling information suppresses any urge to violate the lockdown rules.

OK, now that I’ve processed THAT news….yesterdBlog 5-To Do listay I joked on Facebook that if it weren’t for work keeping me busy, I’d be ironing my socks. I create to-do lists every day (here’s a sample) so I can feel like I accomplished something by choosing to stay home and repeatedly checking off the tasks.

In case the lockdown gets extended here in #Spain, and for those of you who are about to enter your lockdown phase, here are some sanity-preserving ideas:

1. Learn a new language. Try Duolingo or any of the other free services. Better yet, hire an online freelance instructor and keep someone partially employed.

2. Take a virtual tour. Spain, France, and Italy – I’m sure many others as well – have opened their most treasured museums to us all online. Visit the Louvre from your couch! Schedule discussion groups so you can show off what you’ve learned.

3. Exercise. Water bottles can make good weights, especially if you do enough repetitions. Please remember to tighten the caps unless you seek the efficiency of doing jumping jacks and showering at the same time. Now I know.

4. Read a book. It’s nice to feel a bit of paper every now and then, and give the screen a rest. Online book clubs must be flourishing by now, so join one.

5. Learn a new skill. I am going to learn – heaven help me – to cook. I have little choice anyway since restaurants are closed. For those who already know how to cook, there are plenty of resources to tap into for photography, art, crafts, and so on…

6. Organize a party. Who says everyone has to be in the same room? Use your various collaboration tools to host a virtual dinner or dance party. Your neighbors may be grateful, or you can give them something else to complain about.

7. Give back. Or just give. Lots of people are afraid, lonely, depressed, confused…if you can brighten someone’s day – virtually – you’ll have offered a tremendous service.

I can think of a hundred other things CLAPPING TIME is here.

#StaySafe #StayHome

***

 

Post 3: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

Well, two perspectives: Beirut, Lebanon, and Malaga, Spain. A couple of friends and I have decided to chronicle our experience during the lockdowns, quarantines, travel bans, and other restrictions during the #COVID-19 pandemic.

More perspectives welcome – if you’re interested in sharing yours, please send a guest post!

From RJD in Beirut, Lebanon:

Monday is usually the day I replenish groceries, supplies, and so on. Then I start focusing on work and the day’s events as they unfold. Today I also will rant…

In the #Corona age and the lockdown declared in #Lebanon yesterday, instead of going grocery shopping, I had to call each store, check if they are open, what procedures they are implementing, whether they accept credit cards, and after 30 minutes, I made a plan of “action”! Now, toss and disinfect everything outside our apartment door so that when I leave, at least my mind is at ease. Am I becoming OCD? Am I being overly cautious?

The reflections that this lockdown is imposing on us are very valuable though. I am learning that our housekeeper, who is a devout churchgoer, from Eritrea, is convinced I am going mad. “It’s just a flu, for heaven’s sake,” she says. She went to church yesterday but didn’t touch anyone or anything. “Look at Eritrea, we went into lockdown and we have no cases.” “This is God’s will and come what may.” Reflect, reflect, hmmm. Nope. Yes. No…I don’t know.

The roads are still empty.

The sounds of Beirut Monday morning are non-existent.

What do I make of this and do I accept God’s will? For many here, a saying is being repeated: He whose time has come is going to go anyhow…fatalistic? Well the Lebanese are. After many centuries of lively adventures, our DNA has developed a fatalistic gene!

I think of those mad people who spent Sunday morning in masses walking on the Beirut seafront corniche yesterday. Reflect…are they out of their freaking minds? What irresponsible behavior? Then they blame the government on doing nothing. They needed fresh air. Irresponsible…

True that flus and viruses hate the outdoors and the sun, but in masses, the chance of this virus spreading is unreal. What part of lockdown did they not get? Exposing an exponential number of people to infection is a social irresponsibility…he whose time has come is going to go anyhow…

Spoke to Mim. Mim and I have been on a continuous conversation since the October 17 Revolution broke out in Lebanon. One long conversation that has touched each and every aspect of our lives. Today, she will send me a bottle of alcohol as she has a pharmacy run (as a gift instead of flowers) and I will send her two bottles of Lysol wipes!

On that note, I am mentally exhausted as more people are diagnosed today in Lebanon with a total of 109 cases. Thank goodness still only 3 fatal cases.

***

From @rafifj

Went grocery shopping today, with Adam. We didn’t know that we’re not allowed to travel in pairs. Now we do – we also know that only one person per household (at a time) can go to the grocery store, medical facility, or place of work. One person can take the pet for agrocery-shopping quick walk.

The police may stop you and ask for proof of your purpose for being out of your home. If you have no proof, you may be arrested. You may also be fined – up to 30,000 Euros. There were more police patrols today. Martial law is no joke, especially when the number of coronavirus cases is creeping up to 9,000.

The streets were pretty much empty, like yesterday. We did see a few homeless people. They were asking for food, not money. We brought them back some basics and vowed to bring more tomorrow.

Nearly everyone we saw – including the police and except for the homeless people – was wearing a mask and gloves. Where did they get the gloves? We finally found masks. No gloves anywhere. This is not good.

The big break in the day is clapping time, when everyone opens their windows and starts applauding. Well, a lot of people. Today there were fewer than yesterday. But it’s an act that I find beautiful, and so I will continue to applaud.

I applaud the grocery store clerks, who put up with cranky customers. I applaud the pharmacists, who have to deliver the bad news that they are out of sanitizer and masks and gloves. I applaud the truck drivers and bakers and gas station attendants. I applaud the medical personnel, who are bracing for the disaster that is coming our way.

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