Featured

We are back, another COVID travel

So, here we are back home once again and done with the self isolation of 14 days. Back in Kenya 🇰🇪 , our home for now. This phrase “we are back home” sometimes perplexes me as I use it for so many places that I consider home. Our own homes in Kenya 🇰🇪 and Canada🇨🇦, our kids’ homes often in two different places, some friends’ and family homes that are no less than home to us. I must say that we are fortunate to call so many places home, what more can one ask for in life 😜?We had some of the best times of our lives during this stay of almost four months in Canada🍁. Traveling back to Kenya 🇰🇪 was both enthusing and stumping at the same time. We didn’t feel like parting from kids, leaving our safe haven and sweet home in Kingston. Nevertheless, we wanted to get back to Kenya so that Manoj could have a normal workday and work life.The travel itself was quite hassle free. I guess it was because we were prepared with all that was required in these difficult and confusing travel times. A COVID negative certificate, a bar scan code for Kenyan health authorities, a mask on at all times and keeping distance from people at the airports – it all worked out. In fact, it was quite reassuring to notice:1. That the airport authorities at all the 3 airports we passed through (Toronto, Addis and Nairobi) were quite diligent in following public health guidelines to keep everyone safe.2. Fellow passengers were largely also following the new norms.3. All passengers were supposedly COVID-negative as almost all airlines and airports now require a negative certificate to board a plane.4. There was no cutback on any services on the flights or at the lounge in Addis (though the Toronto lounge was closed), even the entertainment system was now working unlike on our flights into Canada.Though it was relatively warm the day we departed from Toronto, there was a heavy snowstorm the next day, so it is nice to be back to a green and warm Kenya exuding with the warmth of good friends Arun and Brij. Their kindness was felt when we entered a clean house with food prepared and groceries in the refrigerator waiting for us. Settling back into our routines has been a cake walk in the last two days, and I was even more excited to see that my terrariums 🪴🌱survived without any attention given to them in about 4 months. I can contentedly say that the journey back was equally good.

लो चले हम… वापिस अपने घर को! ये अपने केन्या वाले घर की बात हो रही है। अब क्या बताएँ कि कितने घरों को अपना घर कहने का सौभाग्य प्राप्त है हमें। किंग्स्टन 🇨🇦और केन्या 🇰🇪 में तो घर हैं ही, अब बच्चों के अलग अलग शहरों में घर, ऐसे दोस्त और परिवार के सदस्यों के घर जिन्हें हम अपना घर ही मानते हैं, अब हमारे घरों की फ़ेहरिस्त में आते हैं 😜।सोच के देखें तो ज़िंदगी से इससे ज़्यादा और क्या माँगे?यह पिछले चार महीने कनाडा 🇨🇦 में बहुत अच्छे से बीते। केन्या वापिस आने का सफ़र भी बिना किसी परेशानी के रहा पर दिल और दिमाग़ बहुत असमंजस में रहे। बच्चों का साथ छोड़ना और किंग्स्टन 🍁जैसी सुरक्षित और सुहावनी जगह से कहीं जाने का मन नहीं था पर दुनिया के अलग अलग देशों के समय का फ़र्क़ मनोज के काम को बहुत मुश्किल बना रहे थे। केन्या 🇰🇪 वापिस आना ही एकमात्र समाधान था।करोना के मुश्किल समय होने के बावजूद सफ़र के दौरान कोई कठिनाई नहीं हुई। वो इसलिए कि हम इस सफ़र के लिए पूरी तरह तैयार थे, कोविड टेस्ट के negative होने का प्रमाणपत्र लेकर, केन्या के स्वास्थ्य विभाग के लिए एक bar code ले कर, सारा समय mask पहन के रखने से और दूसरे लोगों से दूरी बनाए रख कर। असल में यह काफ़ी सांत्वना देने वाली बात थी कि 1. तीनों airport , Toronto, Addis Ababa और Kenya की Airport authorities बहुत तल्लीनता और सहज तरीक़े से सब लोगों की स्वास्थ्य सुरक्षा का ध्यान रख रही थीं।2. सहयात्री भी बड़ी सहजता से सब नियमों का पालन कर रहे थे।3. हम यह मान कर भी चल रहे थे की सब सहयात्री कोविड negative हैं क्योंकि विमान में चढ़ने से पहले airport और airline वाले यह प्रमाणपत्र माँग रहे हैं।4. विमान या lounge की सेवाओं में कोई कमी नहीं थी (Toronto की लाउंज अलबत्ता बंद थी), यहाँ तक कि विमान में मनोरंजन कार्यक्रम भी TV पर दिखाए जा रहे थे जो तब बंद थे जब हम कनाडा 🇨🇦 अगस्त में गए थे।जिस दिन हम Toronto से रवाना हुए उसके अगले दिन वहाँ बहुत बर्फ़ पड़ी, तो केन्या 🇰🇪 आना अच्छा रहा। यहाँ के सुहावने मौसम और अरुण और ब्रिज जैसे दोस्तों की गर्मजोशी ने हमारा स्वागत किया। साफ़ घर , फ़्रिज में बना रखा स्वादिष्ट खाना और किराने का सामान अगर आपका इंतेज़ार कर रहा हो तो क्या बात है। और ज़्यादा आश्चर्य और ख़ुशी तो मुझे अपने terrarium 🪴🌱(काँच के गमले) देखकर हुई जिनमें कुछ पौधे अब भी हरे थे (जबकि चार महीने तक उनकी कोई देखभाल नहीं हुई थी)।

Advertisement
Featured

COVID Travels

So, we are home in Kingston after a long wait and a considerable amount of anxiety about travel plans over the last few months. Although we are very comfortable in our second home in Kenya, getting back to our first home in Canada and seeing the kids has constantly been on our minds during these uncertain COVID times. It was a long wait for international travel to open back up in Kenya and the very day it opened, we were on a plane. We for sure had a distinctive travel experience this time compared to all the travels we have done throughout our lives.
What an experience it was see so few people at all the 3 airports we travelled through. No long queues at check-in or immigration or security. Though our flight was in the evening that day, we were the first ones to use the lounge so were greeted by lounge staff with a lot of excitement and attention. They even took pictures with us as we were their first clients in the last five months. We have been traveling on Ethiopian Airways for some years now as we love their excellent staff, good connections, great food, lounges and of course their fares. Things that were clearly unusual and unexpected for us this time were: having no entertainment system in the plane throughout Ethiopian airlines, no magazines/newspapers on board and no add-on authentic Ethiopian meals. We really did not mind all this because we realize that all airlines have been running into billions of dollars of losses, and they may not be left with many choices other than to shave off unnecessary costs. As for procedures and protocols at the airports, masks were required everywhere, but no COVID test reports were required by airport authorities or by the airline. The plane was only at 1/3 of its capacity, maybe because it was the first day of the travel or maybe people are just not traveling again yet. While everyone was wearing masks, the airport in Addis did not have strict social distancing protocols when getting people on buses offloading the plane. At the Toronto airport only 50 people were allowed to get off from the plane at one time and walk through the hanger and then after 5-10 minutes the next lot of people were offloaded. A buffet was laid out at both the lounges in Nairobi as well at Addis, but Nairobi airport staff served it at the tables to meet COVID related health requirements whereas Addis lounge did not follow this protocol. Seating was however set up to follow social distancing requirements at both the lounges. Airline staff wore masks all the time and gloves only when serving food, but they did not have face shields or other more intense PPE for their own safety.

While all of us are feeling completely healthy and asymptomatic, we are now in self isolation with both the kids for 14 days in our home in Kingston and have been thoroughly enjoying their company and the quality time we have with them. Having said that, the mere thought that we might have contracted the virus while traveling and may pass it on to somebody here is the heaviest burden on my mind at this time while we are in isolation. Looking forward to catching up with friends after the isolation period.

This post would be incomplete if I did not thank Sanjiv Sam Kapoor and Aparna Kapoor who graciously made sure that we were stocked up with everything we might need during this isolation period.