Highly Helpful Administration & Quarantine Staff at Katra
The hotel provided us with three meals and had a fixed menu. The food was good, and the rooms clean and comfortable.
On 24 March night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown with effect from 25 March to control the spread of COVID-19.
The pandemic changed everything. All modes of transportation drew to a standstill. There were no flights, no trains and no vehicles allowed on roads except essential services.
Everyone was stuck where they were. So was I.
I work with a US-based MNC in Noida and my hometown is Jammu. I was stuck in Noida ever since the lockdown was announced. For almost two and a half months, I was fending for myself at my rented flat in Noida. I cooked, cleaned, and worked a nine-hour job from home, learned to survive on my own and in the process became a ‘self-proclaimed’ accomplished chef.
After two months, I was overjoyed to hear the news of the resumption of domestic flights from 25 May. Getting a train booking had proved to be a cumbersome task and air travel, no doubt, was the obvious choice. It’s better to be safe and avoid a nine-hour train journey any day.
I booked a Delhi-Jammu flight on 28 May and started packing immediately.
The flight was for 8:20 am on 29 May and I arranged for a private taxi to pick me up from my society at 5 am the next morning. It was an overcast morning and the weather was pleasant and breezy. The driver was promptly at my society gate at 5 am and we drove past the state borders with no traffic and no checking. We reached the airport at a record time of 5:45 am.
I had taken two copies of my flight ticket. One for myself and the second for the taxi driver. Just in case, he needs to show it at the Delhi-Noida state border.
Things at the Delhi airport were different that day for obvious reasons. No taxi queues, no cluster of people huddled together at the security check.
There were automated luggage check-in booths, airport staff were spraying disinfectants on the luggage, thermal screening, and verifying ‘You are Safe’ status on passenger’s Aarogya Setu App. Only after all these checks were done, I was allowed to enter the airport.
This was the new normal, that I had read and heard about.
A boarding pass check and a brisk walk to gate 42A later, I was squarely in my seat in the aeroplane.
Once inside the flight, there was no social distancing. All three seats in the row were occupied, the flight was almost full. The airline gave us a surgical mask, face shield and a few sanitizer sachets. The cabin crew wore full-body safety kits and no food was served. The usual water-in-a-cup routine was dispensed with and water bottles were handed over to passengers.
We landed before time at 9:30 am at the Jammu Airport. We were swiftly disembarked and asked to form a queue for COVID-19 test. A quick nose swab later, I found myself again in a line, this time to choose the type of quarantine facility needed.
The J&K administration gave us two options – either to go for a free government quarantine facility or choose a self-paid hotel quarantine. I chose the self-paid hotel quarantine. I was already aware that air travellers who opted for the self-paid quarantine were sent to Katra. We were asked to sit in a 32-seater electric low-floor SRTC bus which looked recently acquired. It was supposed to carry 15 passengers.
After waiting for an hour for the bus to fill up with the desired number of passengers, we started our journey from the airport with a police escort. An hour or so later, we stopped at the reception/base camp for incoming air passengers in Katra.
We were greeted by a young administrator who was very accommodating and receptive towards us and our queries. He explained to us the two categories of hotels that we could choose from.
Category ‘A-B’ Hotel charging Rs 2,000 excluding GST per day and category ‘C’ Hotel charging Rs 1,500 excluding GST. Twelve people including me, chose ‘A-B’. We were then moved to our respective hotels which were 100m ahead of the base camp.
Quarantine Room Clean, Staff Courteous
At the hotel, had a temperature check and were quickly checked in. Most of us were awake since 5 am that morning and had a quick lunch.
The hotel provided us with three meals and had a fixed menu. The food was good, and the rooms clean and comfortable. The hotel staff was courteous, prompt and in their protective gears. There was news going about that our that our test results would come the next day.
I woke up the next morning when the room service brought in my breakfast.
All our meals were served to us in our rooms, in disposable utensils wrapped in aluminium foil.
At around 11 am, the first list of test results was shared to a person by ‘someone known’ to him via WhatsApp. My name was not on the first list. An hour later, another list was shared and again my name did not figure in it either.
A little perturbed, I went to the reception to enquire about whom to contact in case I needed some information about the test results. They gave me a number for someone in Katra Development Authority, CEO’s office. I called and a woman answered the phone. I asked her when the reports were expected. She assured me that we would receive our reports that day itself.
She gave me all the information I needed and was very empathetic towards my situation.
After speaking to her, I felt at ease and made a cup of tea. At around 4:30 pm, she called me back and informed me that my test results had come back negative and I was free to go home.
She went on to enquire if someone would come to pick me up or would I need a transportation back to Jammu. I requested her for transportation and 15 minutes later, post-check-out from the hotel, I was sitting in a mini-bus along with eight others, going back to Jammu.
An hour later, I was in my home, sipping my mom’s tea.
The reason I wanted to share this experience was to thank all those who have worked tirelessly and selflessly to facilitate the movement of thousands of incoming natives stuck outside and to the administrators who have been in the forefront in tackling the menace of COVID-19. We all owe them a debt of gratitude!
(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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