(This has been cross-posted here from my Newsletter)
Over the last seventy-two hours I must have received at least a dozen or so emails from large companies outlining their Corona virus response, how it might affect us all, or whatever it is they wrote about. I can’t be certain what was in all the emails, because my first impulse when faced with an inbox full of unread big business newsletters is to delete them. So, I did. Bad, I know.
Even worse is that I’m adding to the barrage of email with my own newsletter today. I promise, I have a valid reason (a new release), which has been on the calendar since mid January, before the situation was as out of control as it appears to be right now. Sorry in advance.
Coronavirus. Everyone’s talking about it. And for someone like me, who flatout refuses to panic about anything at all, it’s becoming harder to ignore. So, why not take a moment and talk about it?
For those of you that don’t know, my author bio is a little bit out of date. When I started writing, I lived in the UK (Greater London, to be precise), but that’s no longer the case. For the past few years I’ve been living in India to be closer to the in-laws, who are getting on in age and need more support than they used to. I’ve never updated the bio, because I like my privacy, especially now that I’m in a country which still judges steamy fiction quite a bit. For that reason, I won’t share exactly where I am even now.
It’s a weird place to live at times. The media is quite insular, so you don’t tend to hear much about the wider world, unless it’s really newsworthy. Upon opening a newspaper in India, you might be fooled into thinking that there are only a handful of countries that matter outside our borders. The US, and perhaps the UK, occasionally the Middle East. On top of that, we don’t tend to follow the news all that religiously, adding to our isolation. In a way, we’ve been mentally self-isolating before coronavirus made it popular!
While the whole world seemingly has been consumed by coronavirus panic, we’ve mostly been shielded from it all. Sure, there’s a shortage of hand sanitiser and face masks, but we’ve been spared the toilet paper apocalypse other countries have had to deal with. (Also, on the whole, Indian people don’t care for toilet paper, so I doubt it’ll ever sell out completely, which is great, because as a European, I can’t do without it.)
Long story short, the news has finally trickled through into my own stubborn brain as well. I had to travel to the capital yesterday to pick up my new passport from the embassy, and the trains were overrun with people wearing masks. If anyone coughed, the whole compartment would steal a suspicious glance at the culprit as if to ask: ‘have you got it?’. Even if published Coronavirus cases in all of India add up to just 81 people (out of 1.3 billion), the paranoia is real. I guess people naturally assume that the figures must be inaccurate and the situation is much worse already.
Today, perhaps due to fatigue following my intense one-day up-and-down train trip, or the general Delhi-effect, I’m feeling a bit worse for wear myself. For a moment, I even asked myself ‘do I think I have it?’ I’m going to go with ‘no’, unless I start developing a cough or runny nose over the next few days.
Anyway, all of this got us thinking. If things do escalate, as they have been abroad, are we prepared? My husband and I are likely going to be fine, but his parents are at risk on multiple fronts. Age, pre-existing conditions, generally being frail and susceptible to any old cough or flu that passes through; all these factors apply to them.
We can’t stop breathing, and as such, we can’t avoid potential exposure altogether. But we can avoid going out so much.
So, in the interest of prepardness, I have gone into hamster mode. Because if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s shopping.
No, I haven’t purchased every last roll of toilet paper in the city, but I have stockpiled essential food items in larger quantities than I normally would. My pantry is full of rice, wheat flour (required for the traditional flatbreads North Indians tend to eat at almost every meal), dried lentils and beans, pasta, sugar, cooking oil and other shelf stable items. I had already canned a dozen or so jars of pasta sauce back when tomatoes were cheap, so that will also help. It’s still a work in progress and I’ve tasked my father-in-law with compiling a list of medicines to keep in stock as well, but I think we’re well-positioned to have enough food for the four of us to last very comfortably for at least 2-3 months. Our stock of toiletries is looking about the same. That’s the target I’m shooting for, anyway.
As for other essentials; we don’t have much power back-up (no generator), but since we use bottled gas for cooking, and always have some spare, we’re okay on that front. Our house is set up in such a way that we have 10,000l of water collected at any given time, so we’re good there too.
So, on to my big question to you: what are you doing (if anything?). Are you concerned? Have you been stockpiling food and other pantry items? Or are you going with the flow and waiting for it all to blow over on its own?
I still refuse to panic, frankly because I’m too exhausted to after yesterday’s ordeal. And compared to previous major pandemics (like the big ones you read about in the history books), this is not going be nearly as serious, I think. It may not even kill as many people as regular flu does, anyway. But, I like the feeling of being at least a little prepared. This is one of those times I’m proud of myself for ‘adulting’ for a change. Also, while I’m not going out for grocery shopping in the foreseeable future, or socialising as much as before, imagine how much reading and writing I’ll get done!
Please, do share how you’ve been coping. I’d love to hear from you!
Oh, and I’ve got a new book out. More about Beauty (Coffee Shop Girls #3), here.