Long Lockdown, Deserted Roads: Witnessing a Kashmir in Bengaluru
Sometimes while walking on those roads I feel, I am waking on the deserted Srinagar city during the shutdown.
After living in Kashmir through six months of shutdown post the abrogation of Article 370, I thought life will be bed of roses when I left two months ago. I was not expecting that a storm of unexpected events will bring back the haunted memories of Kashmir.
I thought travel to other states of India will offer me a chance to slow down my worries and live in a free environment with no danger. But this lockdown has turned me into the prisoner of past.
This isn’t my first lockdown and probably won’t be the last, but I didn’t think I will find myself struggling in solace again, this time in Bengaluru.
When I first heard about the lockdown, I did what I usually do in Kashmir: don’t panic, just take it as it is.
But here in my personal world I am feeling defeated and frustrated.
Touch has become a curse in my own flat. I am unable to shake hands with my roommate due to the scare of infection. My beard has grown very long. As I watch though my door peephole, nobody answers any call. The city that never sleeps is right now mourning lives lost due to the pandemic. Rumours are flying thick and fast, thereby escalating tensions. These images often take me to home, where I visualise living under lockdown.
The number of positive cases for this fatal disease is increasing in Kashmir and around India with each passing day, giving me goosebumps and sleepless nights.
Am I witnessing another Kashmir here in Bengaluru?
My roommate tells me these lockdowns are necessary for the future of our lives. I get aggressive with myself about planning each day to make sure that I am not wasting my time on useless things. I structure my schedule to keep myself busy with learning new things and enhancing my skills. I also spend time cooking. I have taken this as a chance to do the things I haven’t had time for or was too stressed to prioritise earlier.
Bengaluru a Ghost Town
My roommate works in a sales marketing company, so the lockdown suits him well. He teaches me to understand and embrace the ways of sequester. I embrace it by sitting with my thoughts, reflecting on things – who and what I appreciate. Sometimes while watching the suffering of poor people here in Bengaluru, I wonder how people in Kashmir all these years have survived the continuous lockdown for months with harsh curbs put in place.
The city resembles a ghost town. Shops, malls, schools, colleges are all out of bounds and there is no vehicle on the roads.
The deserted look of the Silicon City of India parallels my hometown. Sometimes while walking on those roads I feel, I am waking on the deserted Srinagar city during the shutdown.
There are queues outside chemist. People have been advised to work from home. Initially there was so much panic, people were regularly visiting hospitals with minor coughs and colds, thinking they are COVID-19 positive. This emotion was created by the lockdown because the Silicon City has never slept like this and has never visualised this kind of aloofness before.
When the lockdown started on 24 March, people were barred from leaving the city and public transport was cancelled. One of my friends was charged Rs 2,000 by a rickshaw-wallah to travel one hour distance.
The locals here in Bengaluru are cooperative and there is a public spirit for protecting those who provide health services. Locals regularly distribute essentials through streets and lawns. Although the figure of cases is slightly less as compared to other states of the country but, lockdown is still in effect but soon with some relaxation in place.
This experience of lockdown can give everyone an idea of what people of Kashmir feel, living under an indefinite shutdown with restrictions growing on a regular basis. There is strength in the people of my homeland, whose voices have been muzzled by continuous shutdowns implemented by the authorities over the years.
(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)
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