-Vinod Raghavan in Muscat, Oman
The ongoing Lockdown across the world has not spared any human being from the grip of fear of the dreaded Corona virus pandemic, but the silver lining in the cloud is, that the invisible virus has been a blessing in disguise for many people to explore their unravelled talents from various fields.
Facing the dreaded invisible Corona virus – people cutting across all the barriers — boundries, religion, races, caste and creed — are doing their best in their own little way.
All religious places — Mosques, Churches and Temples, are closed for public. In this hour of crisis all, whether local Omanis or expats help each other by providing food. Many of the people are not salaried and even small businesses are closed.
I myself am confined to the four-walls of my friend’s spacious apartment in Mutrah, Muscat, Oman. Mutrah has reported over 200 positive COVID-19 cases! I have not ventured out, since the announcement of the lockout except to get grocery and food items.
Mutrah has been totally cordoned off by the police and the special task force. Every few mintues we can see convoys of black jeeps, brown vans and the white and blue cars of cops moving around with a strict vigil. We also regularly spot ambulances speeding to their destinations.
Non-salaried people and freelancers like me, are the most affected lot. Of course, no regrets, when I see many others sailing in the same boat as I. Silently suffering, they too are not getting salary but managing their daily chores due to charity from good samaritans and encouraging words by corporates, small and medium business houses, who take care of the needy with their regular messages on Social Media platforms.
With over a month at home, no work, no money, many are undergoing stress . Luckily, there are good souls – medics and psychologists, who attend to the needy and give their valuable services.
According to Dr. Nishat Shams, a well known Psychologist and motivational speaker with over 15 years experience, “this is the time to give back to the nation and to its citizens”.
It is a very good gesture by the two major telephone companies – Omantel and Ooredoo to provide free local calls facilities to their users. “This has helped a lot of mobile users such as me to keep connected with their friends and colleagues,” says Hyderabadi hotel chef Raheembhai.
There are groups like Muscat Kathiyawadi Parivar – headed by Dipti Raval, Jagdip Bhatia and Jayesh Raval, organizing online singing events involving singers from various parts of Oman, the Middle East, India, US and Canada. “This is indeed helping us to divert our minds to creativity rather than getting disturbed by the bombardment of negative news on Whatsapp,” says Jagdip Bhatia.
Many people in Oman have started meditating, thanks to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, as his show on meditation is telecasted live twice daily on various social media platforms. Immediately thereafter, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, veteran BJP leader, gives a talk on “Words of Wisdom” through his Virat Hindustan Sangam, which covers various current national topics and his association with India’s great leaders.
The Indian expats — they have a sizable presence here (around 6 lakh), have found out ways to pass their time during lockdown. Anirban Ray, a journalist with Muscat Daily has found many homemakers with their children and also bachelors now doing Vermiculture with
kitchen wastes and are busy doing gardening.
Surendra Sharma, a die-hard Mohammed Rafi fan who is known for rendering melodious songs of the great singer, is keeping himself busy with daily Riyaz and by improvising old numbers to keep himself fit to perform live immediately after the Corona virus leaves the globe.
Remya Denzil, a teacher and stage actor, is using her creative brain by putting ideas and churning out good messages through small video clips.
Sulochana Keluskar an entrepreneur originaly hailing from Goa, is a busy woman during this Lockdown period, as she has pitched in with her home-made masks, that she has been stitching herself all these days, for the small shopkeepers, cleaners and labourers. She has been distributing these masks without charging any money in the Ruwi, Hamriya neighbourhood . As no one is allowed to move out of the house, she thought of the novel idea of making masks for the neglected lot (labour class) who otherwise cannot afford to buy them.
The expats working in Oman are very much concerned about their near and dear ones back home. Coming to their help in sending money back home, Purshottam Kanji, which are Oman’s first money exchangers. They are now taking care of transferring their money online through a newly launched App. This has eased many of the worries of the expats who are stranded here during lockdown and cannot move out of their home.