3 Jul 2022

#434 Poem A Day Challenge -May 2022 by Story Mirror

 

https://storymirror.com/profile/g5ludtdv/swati-sarangi
Story Mirror Profile






I successfully completed this challenge of composing Poem A Day for the month of May. I received the participation certification along with a book of Poetry in Hindi by Story Mirror. Thanks a lot, Story Mirror for that. 



30 Mar 2022

#433 Bloganniversary : Celebrating 9 years of its existence


Bloganniversary ; celebrating 9 years of its existence

The day has come to celebrate this special day; that special day is the anniversary of this blog. I’m so glad to share that my blog turns 9 years today and I can’t be happier. When I started publishing my articles in my personal blog 9 years ago, I had never imagined that it would be instrumental in inculcating a life-long habit of writing in me. This blog proved to be a faithful friend of mine whose friendship developed during the sophomore year of my college life. It feels unbelievable for me to realize that this blog still continues to reflect my innermost thoughts and ideologies while I travel through different frames of time and space.


Source : Google Images
 

This blog documents the journey of my life by witnessing various stages of my evolution. In 9 years of its existence, it has been successful enough to garner 6-digit-views of people across the world. It has stuck to me during adverse situations and provided me immense support. It’s strange to believe that this inanimate thing has occupied the most important part of my life. It has witnessed me completing my graduation, post-graduation, working in the corporate world, exploring different places and then countries, entering into married life, and striking off many things from my bucket list. When people came and went in my life, it stayed constant. During college days, when many relationships formed and broke off, I feel proud to have invested my time and energy in this relationship which still continues to be with me.

 

Source: Google Images

This month is important for me not just for the anniversary of my blog but also celebrates the second anniversary of my marriage. Unlike this blog, I entered into the relatively early stage relationship for a life-long partnership which evolved through the days of struggle of lockdown and following the passion of life amidst all uncertainties. It was then I learned that every decision taken during the phase of uncertainty provides its own rewards but only those who get the privilege to enjoy these rewards have the courage to face these uncertainties. We can never enjoy a movie when we know its climax beforehand and the same concept applies to life as well.

 

During the last 9 years, I had never pledged to write only in my blog. I grabbed the opportunity to write on different platforms and experimented with different forms of writing such as long and short forms. Not posting in my blog ever implied that I was not writing, in fact, I was always writing, sometimes in my diary, other times as comments for my fellow writers. Whenever I got any idea, I would right away draft it on my mobile. Recently, I have been documenting my journey as a software developer in my technical blog – coding concoction in Hashnode. I never shy away from complementing fellow writers there from whom I learned a lot.

 

Source: Google Images


I neither have any agenda nor any plan to write in this blog, I will keep writing whenever or wherever I can or when I am completely overtaken by the urge of writing. Writing, for me, is the ultimate form of expression and I will continue to do it as long as I am alive.

 

I will write whenever I can

Even under the scorching heat

Holding a pen with my hand tanned

Or trying to write my emotions

With my frozen hands

I will write about the beauty around

During spring in a foreign land

Like leaves of autumn, I will wait

 For thoughts or ideas to be reborn

 

I will write whenever I am happy

Singing and dancing merrily

To appreciate the life

I will also write when I am sad

Not willing to share my grief

With the world around

 

I will write whenever or

Wherever I can

To help my words to reach

Those unvisited clans.

 

All Rights Reserved

Swati Sarangi

27.03.2022 

23 Mar 2022

#432 Published in Eyes - 61st Issue , Feb 2022

Published in Eyes Magazine - 61st Issue,Feb 2022

I am very glad to share that story of my Quarantine entitled as “My Quarantine story of 21 days” has been published in 61st Issue of Eyes( Feb 2022) which is a Newsmagazine of IIT Kanpur’s campus. I am very grateful to the editorial board to publish my article.







11 Mar 2022

#431 You're in our Prayers

 

 

Source: Google Images

I got a mail from Team Poetizer for writing poems to support Ukraine which would be distributed to those suffering in Ukraine. Thanks to Team Poetizer for launching this initiative to support those in Ukraine as well as giving poets a chance to express their concern against war.

 

Here's my poem

 

You're in our prayer

You're in our prayers,

Oh! Yes, we're praying 

With all hopes to make

You free from this war.

We might be strangers for you

 Or we might never meet

but our hearts can feel

the pain that you're experiencing 

Because it's this war 

that pained our ancestors

So we want no more war.

We might not fight in 

the battlefield like soldiers

But we're standing with you

To oppose this war,

because we can feel the 

Pain that you're experiencing 

 

Let tomorrow's sun shine 

so brightly spreading 

Positivity and a ray of 

Hope for a bright future.

 

All Rights Reserved!

© Swati Sarangi

03.03.2022


#WeStandWithU

Source : Google Images


Sharing the reply mail from Team Poetizer 

Source : Inbox of my gmail

Find my poem collected in the PDF on the official site of Poetizer. You've to just click on #WeStandWithU and you'll get a PDF to read all poems from.

9 Jan 2022

#429 Reviewing Year 2021

  

 Reviewing Year 2021

Google Images
How quickly this year passed, just like any other year. This feeling is so common and is experienced by almost everyone as the year approaches its end. I wish the year would have stayed still for some more days. The world is still battling with this phase of pandemic and entering another year with a fear of the mutants of this notorious virus named COVID. It's hard to believe that COVID-19 as the numerals in its name suggests, has very easily wiped off 2 years from our lives and made us confined to the four-walled-room. At the same time, it has helped us to look into our lives with a deeper perspective.

 

As a customary ritual, I've been reflecting on the bygone year during its last days and deriving important lessons from it. What could be a better act for walking through the memory lane than documenting (it alongside)? This year was no less than a rollercoaster ride for me. It’s going to be a nostalgic moment to recall all events that happened in my life and for having been survived different phases of uncertainties during that time. So, here I dive into my flashback and retrieve all my memories. 

 

The new year 2021 got me an opportunity to appear in the interview for the course that I had applied for. I also tried my luck in two competitive exams which did not turn out in my favor. What is destined to happen will find its way and what’s not, won’t happen in any way. All my failures have taught me to explore options that I am born for as aptly stated by Dalai Lama, Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” I met my best friend after a long time and got quality time to spend with her. It was during that time I started applying for my VISA to go to Hong Kong where my husband had been living for the last couple of months. I did not have any strong plan then to go to Hongkong as it all depended on the allowance of flights by the HK govt from India to HK, I made preparation to go to my native place to spend some time with my family. I stayed at my in-law’s house for a month where I celebrated my first marriage anniversary. I got to know my in-laws better as it was for the first time I got such a long time to stay with them after my marriage. Soon after that, I got the news of charter flights going to HK from Delhi and I had just a week in my hand to plan everything, right from booking tickets to reserving a quarantined hotel in HK. You can read more about my Quarantine Story here: my-quarantine-story-of-21-days.

 

After my quarantine got over , I was ecstatic to meet my husband after 6 months and so was he to meet me( I guess so :P ). He had managed a lot last year from traveling to a foreign country during the pandemic to starting everything all alone. I acquired my HKID card which was essential to revoke a hefty medical bill that was the result of my treatment of COVID at the hospital in HK.

 

My pre-birthday eve was well spent watching symphony of lights(a musical light show) in the Tsim Tsa Tsui Promenade, followed by a treat at an Indian Restaurant. Not many days after my birthday, I got unfortunate news of the demise of my grandmother who was battling with COVID. All the memories of moments spent with her flashbacked in my eyes. She was bedridden when I left for HK, with a hope that next time when I see her she would be hale and hearty but this did not happen.

 

I slowly started to adjust to this new country, culture, and people. I started exploring different places in this country on my own to be comfortable and get the feeling of being home. Thanks to the very convenient public transport system and google map which became my guide in this process. This exploration helped me, invariably, in my job hunting. I would so optimistically apply for thousands of different positions based on my skillsets in various job portals of HK and managed to get interviewed for three-four recruiters. It was the fourth one, I settled for as other roles didn’t appeal to me much. At the end of the year, I successfully completed my probation period.

 

In the latter half of the year, I witnessed another form of mine which was capable enough to manage everything, getting up early in the morning to prepare breakfast, lunch for work, commuting two hours for the job, walking 5-6kms daily including climbing 600 stairs, I had never imagined that I could ever do this. My husband always stood as a rock by my side, motivating me whenever I lost my fighting spirit. During weekends, we would plan to travel different places and I created a YouTube channel to document my travel experiences - Around The Globe . There’s another YouTube channel-Swati Sarangi I created for collecting my selecting recordings from Smule at one place [which I wanted to do in 2020 but couldn’t]. As a part of my exploration, I visited various temples such as SaiBaba temple at TST, Kowloon Hindu Temple, Hindu Temple at Happy Valley, ISCON temple at TST and got a chance to celebrate various festivals there and sing in the public. I felt to blessed to receive the token of love from the Hindu temple, Kowloon. All these events transported me to those days when I accompanied my mother to celebrate various festivals at Shiva temple on the campus of IIT Kanpur and Jagannath Temple, Bithoor, Kanpur.

 

During my days of quarantine, I had started learning German in DuoLingo App to ward off the boredom which later became a habit. I successfully continued the learning streak for 200 days and received the report of being in the top 1% of the users to achieve this feat. I also started teaching English voluntarily to underprivileged students of Odisha online. I got an opportunity to be part of online events like Toastmaster HK and book clubs. I could complete reading 8 books this year.

 

2021 gave me myriads of experiences to revisit and I could strike off many from my wish list like a solo trip abroad, getting an iPad, working abroad, starting a youtube channel, working with an NGO, being a local guide in google and starting a technical blog -Coding Concotion. It gave me the confidence to pursue my hobbies and tap into my unexplored potential which I had always ignored. I had to deal with minor health issues. 2021 exposed me to two spheres; where there was an excitement of exploring a completely new world, there was an uncertainty to return home and meet the family. It is how life is and the greatest blessing during this phase of the pandemic is to be healthy.  

 

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year,2022!

Google Images


 








All Rights Reserved

©Swati Sarangi

30.12.2021


P.S : I got late in publishing this article which was planned to be published before the new year. 

24 Dec 2021

#428 The Permanent Roommate Part-2

     

The Permanent Roommate(Part-2)

Source:Google Images

From her previous experiences, Sarika resolved to get this issue fixed as soon as possible but never by compromising with her requirements of life-partner. She started to participate in this process actively by taking the initiative and interest to interact telephonically with the prospects. What was she losing in this process; nothing but definitely those prospects were losing someone like her which they could never imagine to have in their lives! She was no longer compromising with her self-worth. The more she interacted with different prospects; she learned a thing or two about different psychologies, stories, view-points, careers, struggles and insecurities. It was enriching her experiences; her journey of self-discovery and search of twin-flame. She, now, wholeheartedly, gave chance to prospects to interact with her as well as bid them goodbye gracefully when the situation demanded to do so. As a result of changing her attitude, she got a chance to interact with some nice guys. She could now discuss on topics that matter more openly and parted ways when she felt compatibility issues on any ground.

Most of the time, the process just ended up with the interaction of parents of both sides; prospects were never in the picture! So, she wanted the prospect to show interest or rather than parents getting involved at the initial stage. She wanted the prospect to have enough interaction with her so that there is not a little bit of doubt about marrying each other. She believed that they should be able to interact without any barrier and let their parents know about their decision. She believed that she was at a stage where she can choose her partner better than anyone else because she had never ever discussed her requirements in this area with anyone in her life, if she doesn’t take full responsibility for her requirements and choices today, who else is to be blamed for, in future?

[It's the biggest responsibility of any parent to find a suitable match for their daughters whom they hold as the most precious entities of their lives (for whom their love is very unconditional, inexplicable). So, this attachment through unconditional love makes them restless every moment and the hunt for the suitable groom continues.]

         When she was left with no live proposals in her hand, she thought of giving this process a break and focusing on something else. Amidst all these happening, she kept doing her homework honestly; feeling happy and grateful about the current situation, enjoying her hobbies, practicing meditation to be calm, praying, listing the qualities of her dream partner, visualizing spending moments with him, journaling, watching wedding videos, healing her mentally, psychologically, spiritually and preparing herself for the biggest day.    


...............................................to be continued.................................................................


All Rights reserved

Swati Sarangi

24.12.2021

18 Dec 2021

#427 The Permanent Roommate

 The Permanent Roommate

Source: Google Image

After staying with 16 roommates till now at different hostels (in different cities), Sarika started developing a feeling of losing them which was something inevitable. This gave her an idea of pondering about the permanent roommate; soulmate. After all, at the end of the day, in this ever-changing world, finding someone to rely upon completely is an obvious desire.

 

Sarika has always wondered about the permanent roommate; her soul mate; how he might look like, will he be prince charming? Will he be full of knowledge and appreciation for all good things around, that she has always wished for? Will he be mature enough to understand her as a person as her father does? Will he be the most comfortable person for her to be with?  Will everyday duties and responsibilities of life get eased down with him through a true sense of love, emotional intimacy, and understanding of every little thing around them? Will her life just be straight out of any Hollywood movie where the expression of love has been portrayed so immaculately? These were just a fraction of several zillion thoughts going around in her mind at that point of time.

 

 Sarika’s parents and sister started the process of groom-hunting through a matrimonial site, even when she was not fully prepared to get married as she was about to complete her Masters's and take up the best available opportunity for her career. Her parents believed that arranged marriage process takes time to get materialized into a marriage which usually starts from matching the birth chart of both the candidates. During those formal meetings which were of too-conservative-types for her, in which either the match was fixed even without meeting the guy or not getting enough space to interact personally with the guy, she realized that this process of groom hunting was something not working in her case. Every time, these matrimonial meetings were done at her native place which was around 1800kms away from her place of work. Each meeting that didn’t turn out to be successful was testing their level of patience (owing to long-distance travel) and draining their resources like time, energy, and finance [Even though her parents were okay with it as long as the right match was not fixed, they were never in hurry]. So, she started to think about more practical and optimized approaches to fixing this issue.        

 

It is said that behind every successful man, there lies the strong support of a woman who has always believed in him when the world never had.  A responsible lady is one who not only takes care of herself but also the needs of her husband, family, and everyone around. Sarika has always admired and followed those love stories where there has been mutual growth and those stories have prompted her to believe in the power and strength of this intangible emotion called 'Love'.  She has always wondered about the lives of famous personalities who have been successful enough not only in their professional lives but also in their personal lives. That's where the concept of balancing these two spheres becomes of utmost importance. Those love stories which I look up to for inspiration are onscreen Dakota Johnson +Jamie Dornan, Mark Zuckerberg+Priscilla Chan, Narayan Murthy+Sudha Murthy, Sundar Pichai+Anjali, and her parents.  She wanted to be like those ladies to become a pillar of strength for someone who has lost hope in his potential that once brought him all laurels( that he had always desired.)


The difference between the above marriages and her parents was that her parent's marriage was arranged. She always believed that achieving a sense of understanding and care in an arranged marriage involves a lot of sacrifices when you don't know the other person well. So, she has been a little bit skeptical about arranged marriage for her generation but perhaps it was what was destined for her and she has to accept it the way it is. Perhaps it is going to change a lot of predefined notions and concepts from her mind.

 

The image of marriage in her mind has always been a love one as she has always wanted to be a very independent woman, capable of finding her own life partner. This image of marriage that she had in her mind during her childhood started to get hazy in the coming years when her confidence got shattered due to a series of continuous failures. She has always thought of setting an example to the world by her love story but little did she know that destiny had a different plan for her.

................................…………..To be continued…………………….

 

All Rights reserved

Swati Sarangi

18.12.2021

12 Nov 2021

#426 Movie Review : Meenakshi Sundareshwar

  

Meenakshi Sundereshwar

Source : Google Images

 

Review:


As the trailer suggests, this movie is about arranged marriage which has been set up in Madurai. The narrator, in the beginning, describes the possibility of this marriage is majorly due to two reasons; divine intervention and Rajanikanth. The first reason becomes apparent within the first 15 minutes of the movie whereas the second reason becomes clear only at the end of the movie. Their marriage is performed in the temple of Meenakshi Sundereshwar, Madurai which forms the basis of the success of their marriage, just like any other arranged marriage which starts with such a belief. Meenakshi’s grandfather believes that Lord Shiva as Sundereshwar has arrived at his house to ask for the company of Goddess Parvati as Meenakshi.

         

          It’s Sundereshwar’s desire to work independently by chasing his dreams, as well as his honesty, are some of the characteristics which attract Meenakshi whereas it’s Meenakshi’s confidence of bringing a significant change in the organization she would be working that Sundereshwar admires the most. Sundereshwar is very passionate about coding for which he wants to join a reputed MNC and is not at all interested to get involved in his family business of Saree. On their wedding night, Sunder gets the mail about the interview of a company for which he starts preparing by promising Meenakshi to spend some hours with her before leaving for the interview.

 

He eventually gets selected and prepares to leave for Bengaluru where he’s expected to do a 6-months-long-internship before he is offered a position in the company. Their relationship takes a long-distance form which throws a lot of curveballs towards them. Meenakshi, over time, gels well with different members of the family, and everyone is impressed by her intelligence and charm.

 

Sunder, on joining the company in Bengaluru, finds that the company hires bachelors who can dedicate more time to the work without getting distracted. He hides his marital status and tries to get acquainted with this new culture. At the same time, he also keeps searching about ways to keep their long-distant-relationship active and alive. Meanwhile, Meenakshi has also joined a small firm in Madurai to keep herself engaged.

 

In the company, the interns are expected to design an app and the best design will be awarded and that intern will be offered a permanent position in the company. Sunder gets busy in executing his idea in the app and lack of communication, distance, etc. become factors for the misunderstandings between them. Meenakshi decides to take a break from the house of in-laws and accepts the offer of one of her college friends to help him with the finance of his family business.

 

          On the day of the final presentation, one of Sunder’s roommates creates chaos. He sends a message from Sunder’s mobile to Meenakshi asking her to meet him at his office and he reveals Sunder’s marital status to the CEO of the company. Just a few minutes before the turn of Sunder for the presentation, he receives a message from Meenakshi who is waiting for him in the cafeteria of the office which infuriates Sunder. He meets Meenakshi and loses his temper while explaining his situation. Seniors and CEO also arrive at that place while searching for Sunder and ask him to get back to the conference room for his presentation. Meenakshi leaves the place by being offended.

 

          Sunder overhears his senior’s interaction with his roommate and comes to know that he’s the culprit behind all those chaos. He enters the conference room on being called and presents his app which is to test the emotion of the person. He has created this to understand his wife better while being in a long distant relationship. At the end of his presentation, he states that he won’t be working in that company in the future as he’s married and he has hidden his marital status throughout.

 

          On returning to home, Sunder becomes saddened by Meenakshi’s absence in his home. He resolves to bring her back and visit his in-law’s house who say that Meenakshi has been away without informing them. Sunder continues searching Meenakshi everywhere he can but he fails. The poster of Rajnikant on a wall ignites his hope of finding Meenakshi in the movie hall as he recalls from their first conversation that Meenakshi never misses any first-day-first-show of Rajnikant. Eventually, he finds Meenakshi in the movie hall enjoying the movie of Ranikant and their love story kicks start from where it has left.  

 

My opinion:

 

Dangal girl Sanya Malhotra has portrayed Meenakshi to be a confident and intelligent girl just like her character as Renee in the movie Badhai

Ho. This is the third movie of her that I finished watching and I really admire her acting style which comes out to be so natural. Not to forget, Abhimanyu Dassani as Sundershwar has performed equally well in this movie. Sundershwar is that shy, ambitious, quiet, and obedient guy whom every parent pushes for an arranged marriage.

 

This movie revolves around the life of a newly married couple where Sundershwar juggles between his ambition to perform his best in his IT career lest he should look after his family business and long-distance relationship. In an arranged marriage, a long-distance relationship at the beginning of the marriage becomes tough when they've not given much time to understand each other. In such cases, it's obvious to have arguments and misunderstandings which the gadgets make even worse. This motivates him to design an app, as a task of the internship, to understand his wife better.

 

For me, it's a one-time watch movie with a relatable script. I wish I could understand those Tamil lines in the middle of Hindi dialogues. It would have made the regional influence of the movie more understandable for me. I personally feel that the storyline could have been much stronger to render a lasting impact but the songs have been very suitable for different situations.

 

My rating goes 4.4/5, the best part is that this movie ends on a happy note, thereby making my weekend-watching more enjoyable and satisfying because I believe in happy endings. 

#moviereview #MeenakshiSundareshwar #Netflix #SanyaMalhotra

#AbhimanyuDassani


 ©Swati Sarangi

13.11.2021


 

4 Jul 2021

#425 My Quarantine Story of 21 days


MY QUARANTINE STORY OF 21 DAYS

It is said that it takes 21 days to make or break any habit provided you do it every day for 21 days without any fail. This number 21 seemed frightening to me at first, when I got the news of the HK government’s policy of 21 days Quarantine at Government designated hotels(supposedly 5-starred) for those traveling to HK from high-risk countries like India but I could hardly anticipate the myriad of experiences that it would provide me.

I have always wished to have a solo trip abroad, luckily this year my wish got fulfilled amidst the pandemic. I took a chartered flight to Hong Kong from Delhi in April. I got to know about the flight just a week before my departure and there was a lot of stuff to do. 

To organize my writing of sharing my story of Quarantine, I am going to divide this experience into different phases as below; 

 Phase-1 Preparatory Phase

This phase involved everything related to booking the flight and the HK govt. Designated Hotels for Quarantine, arranging required documents for traveling during the pandemic, getting the report of COVID test done before 72 hours of travel, it was really taxing.

 Phase -2 Journey Begins; Part-1


I took the early morning flight to Delhi from Bhubaneswar. As soon as I reached Delhi, I had 6-7 hours, in my hand, to board the evening flight to HK. It was my first international solo trip by flight during the pandemic, I was cautious about maintaining the social distancing. I was very excited about being able to strike off something from my bucket list.


After finishing off my lunch, I headed towards the international departure area of IGIA. I had to convert INR to HKD so as to be on the safe side even though I knew I might not need them there as major expenses like bookings were already taken care of. It was a great initiative by the travel agent to do one-time luggage check-in directly from Bhubaneswar to HK.

After completing the document verification at immigration in IGIA,Delhi, I moved to the waiting area. I had around 30 minutes which I used to converse with my family. Then I boarded the flight at 8P.M by abiding by all safety measures.

Phase 3- Journey Begins; Part-2



The flight took off from IGIA, Delhi at around 7:50p.m. I took a private chartered flight (which used to fly to HK twice a month because of the pandemic) which transported me to the destination in 5hours and 30minutes. The flight was a little crowded for this era of pandemic and kids were getting anxious with masks and PPE kits which made them roam inside the flight. I watched Article 15, which was always there in my list of movies to be watched along with some episodes of Friends. I enjoyed the dinner and especially the custard was too delicious.


I could hardly sleep in those five and half hours of my journey. Oh, no! not because of the excitement but for the cries of toddlers. They were impatient with masks over their mouths. The next morning, I landed in Hong Kong at 4:00a.m. Then began a series of processes and tests which included verification of our documents, preliminary tests such as the swab test and Nasal test . After the tests were done, the passengers were instructed to wait in a sitting area, which was there in the airport, for the result of the test. It reminded me of the moments of exam in a huge examination hall from school and college days when students were made to sit at some fixed distance. I realized that my Indian SIM card had become useless at that point of time but thanks to the public wi-fi hotspot at the airport, I could connect with my family. That time of waiting was unpredictable then until the result of swab test of everyone from my flight was out. A voice from someone woke me up from my slumber telling me that the report came negative and I could then go to the hotel. I then realized that I had almost fallen into sleep for 4 hours!


 I collected my belongings and headed towards the exit. On the way to exit, a tracker was tied to my wrist which would monitor my restricted movement inside my hotel room for the next 21 days and breaching of this rule might put me into prison for 6 months or impose a fine of 25,000HKD. I was asked to install stayhomesafe app which would keep an eye on my movement during my Quarantine.




HKIA

 After all the formalities were over, someone in PPE kit asked those passengers, who booked in Regal Airport Hotel, to make a queue. So, a queue, of four people comprising of two males and two females was directed to the Regal Airport Hotel which was connected to the airport and was barely 200 meters away.





Waiting for the preliminary COVID report at the airport 


 Phase 4- 21 days Quarantine at the hotel 

Entrance of Regal Airport Hotel




 I reached the Regal Airport Hotel around 11 a.m. I was so hungry and exhausted at that time. I was allotted a room on the third floor which had a nameplate with ‘Shivaya’ written on it. You can imagine the sense of relief that one gets from coming across something familiar. I was relieved by the fact that the invisible forces were taking care of me in a foreign land.

 I took bath and freshened up quickly. The breakfast given by the hotel was inedible for me, so I relied upon the protein powder, prepared by my mother-in-law, for my breakfast. My room was spacious with a queen-size bed, a massage bed (perhaps), an LCD screen mounted at the wall facing the bed, a big mirror (what else one wants!!) I later utilized the space of the room for my workout and walking. The windows of the room could not be opened as per the guidelines of the government.

Tracker


 My daily routine included getting up in the morning, looking through the window, and observing the two-tiered colorful buses passing by, doing workouts, practicing music, being a guide to give a virtual tour to my family and friends, connecting with other people Quarantining at HK preferably in the same hotel, complete the assignments of the courses I was enrolled into etc. I opted for fruits in the breakfast, my lunch and dinner included Indian Veg cuisine. Food seemed to be a little repetitive but I could not have asked for more in a country that provided veg dishes of my preference. I found the staff of the hotel really helpful and cordial. They were always eager to help me whenever I needed any.The tracker tied to my wrist demanded me to scan the QRcode on it, every now and then. I had no option except to fulfill its demand.

Lunch at Regal Airport Hotel 


During those days, I felt blessed to have across an online coaching platform; Study Table, which provided free education to underprivileged students of class 10th of Odisha.I used to teach English,Maths and Science to these kids through zoom. It fulfilled two wishes of mine; first to teach students; second to help the needy ones.

  Phase 5- The Twist in the plot

View from my window @RAH


 I felt feverish and cold on 4th day of my arrival at the hotel. I had a severe headache, running nose, sore throat, lose motion, and stomach upset. I assumed it to be the result of jet lag or the food provided at the hotel. I took a tablet of paracetamol and in two days I was fit and fine except for the loss of taste and smell. It was so kind of my husband to deliver all eatables and a box of Sabji and Roti, which I ate so fondly [He delivered bags of food items at the entrance of the hotel and the staff put it at the door of my room.] I regained a sense of taste and smell after 2-3 days and resumed my normal routine. During that time,I got the news that 

 

Cooked food by my husband
around 90 passengers from my flight got infected and all flights from India to HK were banned for next one month.

As per the guidelines of the HK govt., COVID tests on the 12th day and 19th day were mandatory to be performed on people Quarantining at the hotel. The result of my 12th day test came to me like a bolt from the blue. By that time, I had got the news of around 80 cases of positive from my flight, especially people sitting adjacent to my seats were already tested positive. Health Department of HK Govt. released a report of COVID cases every day at around 4P.M HKT which I used to follow religiously. 

Dinner at Regal Airport Hotel

 
I received a call from the hotel staff stating that my report had come positive and I would be shifted to the hospital by evening. Govt. officials would come for picking me up. It was the time when my family was also going through a tough phase as my father had surgery on that day, so I kept this a secret.

 I did not understand why destiny had to intervene in my normal routine as I had almost got habituated to that room of the hotel. The thought of getting surrounded by that health-care-equipment scared me. I received a call from the Department of Health, HK enquiring about the background for details and asked me to pack up my luggage and wait for the official to arrive. I did as I was instructed to and waited for the govt. officials to arrive.

 

Ambulance for shifting me to PMH from the hotel


Two men clad in PPE kit knocked on my room at around 8:45p.m and asked me to follow them with my luggage. I was directed out of the hotel through the emergency exit where there stood an ambulance. I was asked to get into the ambulance. After doing preliminary verification based on my identity in the ambulance, my journey to the uncertainty began. I neither knew those people who were in the van nor the route to the hospital. I even did not have an HK-SIM card with me. All I knew, just a few minutes before the departure of the ambulance, was that I was taken to Princess Margaret Hospital. After the journey of nearly 50 minutes, I reached Princess Margaret hospital(PMH). In those 50 minutes of the journey, I was completely cut off from the communication as I had no network to connect to. I had no choice of my own except to trust the process. Had I been in India under such circumstances, I would not have been alive to tell my story and everyone knows the reason very well.

View from my window at PMH


That journey reinforced my trust in the people regarding the safety of women. Those people helped me to shift to a chamber in the hospital. I can never thank them enough. On that floor of the hospital, COVID-positive patients were kept in isolation and under observation. I connected with my family through the wifi of the hospital and got to know some good news lie successful surgery of my father, recovery of my uncle and grandmother who was also hospitalized. I was then, in the interior of the city, some 5kms from where my husband had been staying, unlike that of the Regal Airport Hotel which was situated on a different island than that of my husband’s place. That gave me enough reasons to feel grateful before going to bed.

My bed at PMH


The next morning was in a different place than my usual place of stay for the last 2 weeks. The nurse woke me up as early as 6:30 a.m to perform mandatory tests like blood pressure, temperature, and saturation level. Later she did an X-ray, blood, and saliva test. These mandatory tests were performed every day till I was at the hospital. The nurse asked me to wait for the call of the doctor. I started learning German lessons from Duolingo which had been pending for many years. My ward was cleaned regularly and a hygienic environment was maintained. I missed the meals of the hotel very much as the food given at the hospital was bland and tasteless.

In HK, no-call is considered a great sign, however, after two days, I got a call from the doctor stating that some abnormalities had been found from my test report. A minor infection in my liver was detected and he suspected it to be the action of the Corona Virus. He said that I would have to be shifted to a specialized center, HKICC(HK Infection Control Center), North Lantau Island for further treatment the next day.   

Meal at PMH

 
 

That evening, my husband delivered HK SIMS along with some eatables at the hospital which were provided to me. I had no idea about how HKICC would look like. The next day morning at around 10:30a.m, two govt. officials clad in PPE kit came to pick me up in an ambulance. I thanked the nurses before leaving as they took care of me really well except for handing me a big-fat medical bill!     

Phase 6- At HKICC, North Lantau

HKICC,North Lantau
 HKICC was situated close to the airport, so again I was taken out of the city. The journey took around 45 minutes, unlike my last travel experience; I could look around through the window of the ambulance as it was during the daytime. I was a little worried about my family as I got to know that almost all of them had got infected with COVID. I knew that I was getting the best facility there which they might not be in India.

It was a huge center with capacities of over 800 beds. Only around 20-30 beds were occupied when I got admitted there. I was put into an isolation hall with 10 empty beds, kept there. I was instructed to perform mandatory tests such as blood pressure test, temperature test, and oxygen level saturation test twice a day and feed these data a PC kept in that hall. It was a quite spacious hall with proper lighting but the windows were closed. The wifi facility was better than the two places where I had stayed before and the food provided was the best as compared to the past. I liked that place very much and I resumed my normal activities like singing, picking up the course where I had left, watching some series and movies, learning German, connecting with friends and family, etc.

Smart system for mandatory tests


When I arrived in HKICC, after completing my background verification, a set of tests such as mandatory test, saliva test, x-ray, thyroid test, blood sugar, pregnancy test, etc. were conducted and I was asked to wait for the report. Every afternoon, the nurse would collect the blood sample and perform antibodies test. If reports of two successive tests achieved the desired CT value(which they never revealed), I would be discharged from the hospital. I kept eagerly waiting for the day of my discharge from HKICC.  I was given some antibacterial tablets to cure the infection in my liver.

One day, I received a call from the doctor regarding the attainment of desired CT value and I would be discharged the next day after completing all formalities of HKICC. That night I could not sleep with the excitement of going out of HKICC and meeting my husband after six months. Luckily, I was discharged on my 21st day of Quarantine, not a day more! The nurses at HKICC were very helpful and caring. They helped me to carry my luggage out of HKICC and booked the taxi for me after finding the fact that I had come to HK for the first time. I reached my husband’s place after a taxi ride of 40 minutes.

Lunch at HKICC










My Top 5 Takeaways from this experience:

1)   1) It’s never wise to form opinions about people and places based on available media and other’s experiences. I found the people of HK very kind and helpful. They always treated me well, not differentiating on the basis of the country I originated from. I can never thank them enough for their unconditional gesture of kindness!

2)   2) Being optimistic in tough situations helps. I learned to trust the process and believe in the plan of the almighty. Not every uncertainty in life is problematic.

3)  3)Constructive hobbies can be developed easily in 21 days. I started learning German during my Quarantine and I am still continuing that. Hobbies literally saved me from boredom.

4)   4) The gift of life is NOW. The present is the best moment. Sometimes, it may appear dull or boring but when it passes, it will definitely provide memories for life. I experienced Quarantining in a 5-starred hotel in a foreign land for 21 days which might not have happened otherwise.    

5)  5)There are a thousand reasons to feel grateful in a situation. The quickest one would be to be able to breathe!

    COVID-19 has taken a lot of lives and paralyzed the usual lifestyle of people. It was a very painful situation to lose my Grandmother due to it. In this tough situation, we need to stay strong and visualize our lives getting back to normal because it too shall pass!!  

 

Sham Shui Po, Kowloon,HongKong

 P.S: As promised to me, on the condition of settlement of all my medical bills in HK, to post this experience of mine in my blog, I just can’t express my relief in mere words about the news of me being exempted from paying the bills based on my residential status in HK. I am very grateful to the officials of the Immigration Department for instantly responding to my inquiry through the mail and thoughtfully considering my situation. I feel liberated from an unprecedented debt that could’ve reflected as a medical bill otherwise, if not have been settled. I am immensely grateful to the almighty for that! I am glad this ended on a happy note because of which I am able to share my experience with you. 

I've uploaded two videos related to my Quarantine experiences on my YouTube channel ;Around The Globe




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Swati Sarangi

04.07.2021