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Living In The Time of Corona

At first, WhatsApp filled up with jokes about Bengalis (me) being immune to the coronavirus because we have heard "don't do that" - which translates to "korona" - since we were kids. We were sure that this new bug wasn't going to topple us; our parents did that a long time ago.

The duration from jokes to price gouging, shortage, and panic was a mere week! Last weekend, when I clicked to order hand sanitizers, the price of a 2 oz bottle was astronomical!! Paper towels and toilet paper were out of stock and the earliest delivery for Ibuprofen was two weeks away!

The thought of catching the virus doesn't paralyze me, but I fear passing it to others and I know I will be annoyed at the "outage" when it strikes. There is no quick cure and the quarantine and recovery take time. Compare that annoyance to the fact that our kids are far more exposed than we are to the virus by virtue of being in the medical establishment. That thought resets us while we continue to do all we can to stay safe.

The last pandemic was in 2009 when H1N1 is estimated to have infected 60M people and caused 200k+ deaths worldwide. Close to home, Josh caught H1N1 when he was a teen and recovery was tough! Now coronavirus is at our doorstep and it feels like we are entering a post-apocalyptic phase with the rate with which this has crossed the globe and the havoc it has created. The empty shelves in the grocery stores are adding to the visual! I don't recall wall-to-wall coverage on TV and Google exploding on searches for H1N1. Even now, if you google H1N1, you get 30M results.

With coronavirus, I got 4.3 BILLION hits! Couple this with the exponential curve on the number of times we have searched on coronavirus in the last few weeks and you piece together a picture of the wide coverage on the topic and our level of panic.

Back to the apocalypse...

Our friend spent 2.5 hours yesterday stocking up at Costco. My ears perked up and head titled when I heard that. Wait, what? Should I? No! I shook off that news but the nagging thought of not having enough eggs and rice bothered me all day. In the evening, we ordered several items from Whole Foods online to be delivered to our doorstep.

Smugly I thought: what shortage?!

Two hours later, Amazon delivered a small fraction of the order and none of the items I really needed because those were out of stock! Whoa! Instacart was next. Now I am waiting with bated breath to see if my shopper will find the groceries I have taken for granted for decades. If she does not, I'll keep trying every day until I stock up my freezer and pantry.

Rest assured that I am kicking myself for accumulating bad karma for pitching things when I did not need them.

Setting aside my inconsequential pantry panic, my thoughts and concerns are for the elderly and ill in our circle. May you be stocked fully before the digital shopper gets to me. May you stay healthy and strong. May this virus subside and spare you any distress.

Most importantly, may we all be Bengalis whose parents have bestowed immunity on us with their stern warnings of "korona"!

ps: Tereza N from Instacart delivered everything I needed with appropriate substitutions. Yessss!

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