When I had to travel to Jakarta on a Business trip in February 2019, I remember I was shit scared. I had bought mask, gloves and of course a hand sanitiser. Cases in India was not much at that time but I was worried because I was transiting Singapore. I was told by my family and friends to wear a mask all the time, some even suggested that I should cancel my visit but that was not an option. Anyways, I travelled with precautions in mind.
Air India’s flight from Delhi was delayed so I reached Singapore just on time to catch my next flight which was with Singapore Airlines. Boarding had already started and while I was rushing my way towards the boarding gate, I felt mixed reactions around me. It wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. People were pretty cool, they were traveling normally as on everyday but there definitely was fear in the air. I did wear my mask as suggested by everyone.
I landed Jakarta and to my surprise the security was not tight enough considering what the world was going through at that moment. We were asked to fill a declaration form stating that we had not visited China, that’s it!! After clearing the immigration I realised that my baggage had not arrived. I knew my baggage couldn’t run like I did at the Singapore Airport. I filed a baggage delay report and headed back to the hotel hoping the Airline to deliver it for me. Not much people were wearing mask in Jakarta too, maybe because there was no known COVID case in Indonesia till then.
My business meet was for 2 weeks but I hardly ventured out. First time I had visited Jakarta, it was just for 3days but I had been to quite a handful of places. This time I was grounded. Maybe it felt safe that way.
What COVID 19 had done was so intense I guess. There’s a saying “It’s better to be safe than sorry”, that’s exactly what I felt. There was just no charm of being in a foreign land, rather I was just hoping to reach back home safely. I was eating hotel food as much as I could rather than going out.
It was just one weekend that I went to the mall for shopping and another time when my clients took me out for dinner. There is a famous shopping mall in Jakarta named “Grand Indonesia”. You can practically get everything in there. For shopaholic, this is the place! I was stressed out and needed this break but as I reached, I realised nobody was bothered to even wear a mask! Everything in Jakarta was absolutely normal.
As I wanted to go to this place I had visited in my earlier trip, my client’s planned to take me there. The name of the cafe is “Cafe Batavia”, it’s in the Old Town. I had loved its coffee and I wanted to sip it one more time. It doesn’t disappoint me at all.
After 2 weeks when finally departure date arrived, I was relieved. I received a message from Air India that the flight from Singapore was delayed for almost 6hrs!! It was indeed going to be a long journey.
I was seated next to a girl in the flight from Jakarta who was wearing a mask. When the crew asked her if she wanted breakfast she just nodded. Crew asked her if she wanted something to drink, she just nodded. She didn’t eat or drink, not even speak the entire flight. Can you imagine how scary that was for me? I was scared to even be seating beside her!!
Anyways, reached the Singapore Airport and I had almost 12hrs of layover. Looking at the people around was making me sick. When half of the crowd is wearing a mask and half not, it makes you wonder, is it safe to be around the ones who are wearing it??
After a long wait, finally I boarded the flight and headed back home. Landed at Mumbai Airport on 1st March 2019 where the thermal screening was done and got the clearance. I even asked that police, I don’t have Covid? He said “NO”. What a relief!! Now I realise how would he have known.
From the last week of March we started working from home and lockdown was announced. Such a relief that I reached back just on time.
This happened 2years back and till date travel has not revived completely. The fear will always be your shadow and it won’t let you relax or have fun. Let’s just hope that the world becomes COVID free very soon.
Stay Home & Be Safe.