Please "unfriend me" if...Social media during lock down...


The wonderful staff serving us at the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport. They couldn't be more attentive and concerned about our needs and those of the other stranded foreign nationals staying at the hotel during this difficult time. Thank you, dear staff members, for taking such good care of us, including taking everyone's temperature this morning.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the "View web version" tab under the word, "Home" at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We'll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Our lives, regardless of difficult times, are filled with the love and support of family/readers/friends from all over the world. In 2019, when I had emergency open-heart surgery while in South Africa there was and continues to be an outpouring of generosity in prayers and warm wishes. 

We can proudly say, we have "no haters" imposing upon the joys and challenges of our daily lives of world travel.

Now, as we wait in a hotel room in Mumbai, India for the virus to run its course and free us and the rest of the world to be able to continue on with our lives, again the kindness and concern expressed by countless readers throughout the world flood our inboxes.

This generosity of spirit not only brings smiles to our faces as we rifle through the messages, trying to personally respond to each one, but it truly has had an impact on our day to day lives.

As I lay on the sofa in our holiday home in the bush in February, March, and April 2019, with mosquitoes buzzing around our heads, temperatures well into the  40C, (100F) range, with power going off and on due to load-shedding (utility company turning the power off for hours at a time to conserve resources), nothing beyond the loving attentiveness of my husband, family and local friends brought me more peace and comfort than hearing from so many of you.

With the impact of this dreadful virus, we're all locked down in one way or another and yet our readers continue to reach out to us each day. It is this feeling of "never being alone" that has such a positive impact on both of us as we, like you, muddle our way through this challenge.

The hotel staff, some of which are shown in the above photo have embraced each guest with such kindness, extraordinary service and a high level of concern, far beyond what one would expect during these trying times. 
During the lockdown in India, the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport has created this heart image as a show of supports using lights in various hotel rooms.
And beyond the communication we so much treasure with our worldwide readers is the opportunity to connect with family and friends via Facebook which we use more than any other form of social media. 

Over the past 7½ years of world travel, Facebook has been a helpful source for us in seeing photos and reading stories about our loved ones and friends. Few of our blog readers share Facebook with us when they have their own friends and family with whom they share the most detailed aspects of their lives.

If a reader "friends" us, unfortunately, if we don't know them and there's no accompanying comment that they are a reader/friend, we may not accept their friend request. We're not on a mission to have thousands of Facebook friends since doing so would result in too much sorting through posts.

For me, I go into Facebook five or six times a day to see what's happening. I don't notice annoying ads or promotions. But, I do notice "hate speech" and "toxic vitriol" which is often politically based. 

I try to breeze by the toxic comments, but like many of us, especially now with "time on our hands" it's not easy to do. I find myself reading hateful comments about our leaders and the leaders of other countries, regardless of theirs or my, political affiliation, that is an outright slam against their service and a slam against them as human beings.

I challenge anyone, in this world to step into their shoes, now, in the past or in the uncertain future to do a better job than they are doing. Sure, we all fantasize about how "we'd do it better" but none of us, regardless of how well-read or educated we believe we are can fathom the depth, the magnitude of what is required to be in such a position unless we've been there.

No, I am not condoning poor or ruthless leadership. Nor am I expressing a personal political view. I just don't want to see or hear "hate speech" of any type on my Facebook feed. We are each entitled to our opinions and yes, they can be voiced at appropriate times.

But, now, as we all struggle to stay upbeat, positive and hopeful for the future, during this particularly challenging period in history, none of this toxicity is doing any of us any good. 

Thus, if you feel compelled to continue posting "hate speech" on Facebook, which as a medium, I consider a valuable source of hopefulness, humor, and optimism, please feel free to "unfriend" me. 

Yes, I can read about your troubles, your challenges, your joys, your thoughts, your health, and your emotions as I have shared mine. Yes, I love seeing your photos of your family, your friends, scenery, places you've been or long to be and, animals; cats, dogs, wildlife, anything that walks, flies or crawls. Who doesn't love funny animal videos?

Yes, I can read news about Covid-19 as a reality we all face. But, not for one more day can I read "hate speech." If you can't stop, even during this challenging time, please... UNFRIEND ME.

I won't judge you nor will I announce "who" unfriended me. I'll just let you "waft" away.  

May we all stay safe and hopeful during this difficult time.
_______________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, March 30, 2019:
Young males gnus (wildebeest) have blondish hair on their heads so mature males will leave them alone and not fight until they mature when the blond hair changes color.  Due to the blond hair, the older males perceive the young males as females and have little interest in harassing them. For more photos, please click here.

No easy answers...


The main entrance to the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport, the hotel which has welcomed us with open arms. We are very grateful.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the "View web version" tab under the word, "Home" at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We'll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.
As we waited in the hotel lobby for our room to be cleaned, we were informed than on April 1st, laundry service will again become available This morning, I washed a pair of pants, a pair of pajamas and underwear while in the shower.

There's nowhere to hang the items to dry except inside the closet on hangers where they take days to dry. The window ledge here is too narrow to lay out the wet clothing. I have placed a bath towel on the floor of the wood closet under the clothes to catch the drips since wringing them by hand doesn't do nearly as good a job as a washer's spin cycle.
 This sign is posted near the entrance to the hotel is guarded. No new guests are accepted for occupancy.
Knowing laundry service will be available in a few days is a boost to our morale, as it will be when and if we discover food supplies for the restaurant can be replenished (not yet). This morning, my omelet was smaller than usual and I wondered if they are running low on eggs.

Tom is now eating whole-grain toast as opposed to white bread, his definite preference. We don't complain or ask for anything we know may be running low.I suppose we prefer to avoid the staff from feeling frustrated over not being able to fulfill our expectations. 
There are several seating areas in the hotel but are rarely occupied.
They are struggling too, away from their families and homes, while sleeping in the hotel, along with the rest of us. We're all in this together and yet these kindly Indian people never complain or wipe the welcoming smile off of their faces. We so appreciate them.

Over the past several days, we have received many email messages from our concerned readers suggesting we contact the US State Department to help get us out of India.
Coffee bar near the casual dining room.
I can't express how much we appreciate every message we receive and try to reply to each message and comment. However, as we've mentioned earlier, we have no intention of returning to the US. 

With the number of cases in the US as of today at 123,776 and rising rapidly, we feel safer in this locked-down Marriott hotel in Mumbai. Yes, we're "trapped," per se, but we're fine with the lockdown, especially if it is saving lives and reducing the risks to others and to us in the long run.
The casual dining room where we have breakfast and dinner.
As of today, India has 987 cases with 25 deaths as opposed to the 2229 deaths in the US. Sure, we may be deluding ourselves since testing is prevalent in the US as opposed to India. But, a big factor here in the national lockdown which has yet to transpire in the US. Why? We don't know.

In South Africa, shoppers are being shot by police with rubber bullets. See this article here, one of many found online. They certainly are serious about keeping people in their homes. 
The concierge desk is still manned but no one is using it since none of us are allowed to leave the premises.
Whereby in India, failure to comply with the lockdown may result in huge fines and a jail sentence. We aren't going out anywhere, regardless of what we may need or want until such time as going out is deemed to be safe and the lockdown has ended.
A beautiful long staircase leading to the mezzanine level.
The hardship of the lockdown for the poor in India is devastating to see on the news. But, what other choice did the leaders of this country of 1.3 billion people have at their disposal? See the stats below for the top ten countries with the highest population:
TOP TEN COUNTRIES WITH THE HIGHEST POPULATION
#Country2020
Population
2050
Expected Pop.
2000
Population
Growth Pop %
2000 - 2020
1
China1,439,323,776
1,301,627,048
1,268,301,605
13.4 %
2
India1,380,004,385
1,656,553,632
1,006,300,297
37.1 %
3
United States
331,002,651
398,328,349
282,162,411
17.3 %
4
Indonesia
273,523,615
300,183,166
214,090,575
27.7 %
5
Pakistan220,892,340
290,847,790
152,429,036
44.9 %
6
Brazil
212,559,417
232,304,177
174,315,386
21.9 %
7
Nigeria
206,139,589
391,296,754
123,945,463
66.3 %
8
Bangladesh164,689,383
193,092,763
128,734,672
27.9 %
9
Russia
145,934,462
129,908,086
147,053,966
- 0.8 %
10
Mexico
128,932,753
150,567,503
99,775,434
29.2 %
TOP TEN Countries
4,503,002,371
5,044,709,268
3,597,108,845
25.1 %
Rest of the World
3,293,613,339
4,329,774,957
2,547,898,144
29.2 %
TOTAL World Population
7,796,615,710
9,374,484,225
6,145,006,989

There's no doubt population size is a factor in the number of cases of Covid-19 but also measures each country exercises to contain the virus are a vital factor, regardless of economic consequences and inconveniences to daily life.


This is not easy for any of us. But, us two world travelers, stuck in a hotel in Mumbai with no sense of security over how long we'll have a roof over our heads, are willing to be patient and see what transpires over the next few months.
The seating area near the reception desk.
Thanks for all the love and prayers for our safety and well-being as we express the same sentiment to each and every one of you!
________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, March 29, 2019:
There were no photos, posted one year ago today, as I returned to the hospital for two surgeries on my infected legs as a result of the cardiac bypass surgery.

Living in limbo...The impact of change...


Living in limbo is an unusual experience for all of us. It's impossible not to dwell upon what will happen next, the economic consequences, the long term impact on each of our towns, our villages, our cities, and our countries, and our immediate surroundings.
For us, the considerations are less long-term and more immediate.


Will the hotel stay open to shelter us until this passes? If not, where will we go? Will the hotel be able to receive deliveries at some point? When will I be able to eat vegetables again, a mainstay of my diet?

I never knew I would long for the crispiness of a bite of romaine lettuce or the crunch of sautéed broccoli cooked al dente. For many, any food at all is a luxury for which I continue to remind myself. We are fortunate during this unusual and trying time in history.

And yes, this period will go down in history as a time of great loss, sorrow, worry, and fear. None of us are exempt from the impact on our lives.
For those of us who will have avoided the ravages of the virus, we can always remind ourselves how our diligent efforts along with a stroke of good fortune kept us safe in the wake of others dying around us.

I would like to believe there's always a reason for such disasters. Is it Mother Nature's way of reminding us of who is in control? There's no smog in Mumbai today. The waters in the canals of Venice are crystal clear with sea creatures arriving in excited pods to play in her clear blue waters. What does that say?

Sure, there are endless conspiracy theories flooding the internet right now surmising many possible scenarios. Any single perspective may be partially plausible or not.

I prefer to let it lie in the grasps of a higher power deciding this world needed a reset, not just financially but spiritually as well. 

We all could have lived a better life with more compassion, less judgment of others, less toxic vitriol, less consumption, and with more tenderness toward each other and our planet.

And, here we are now, with an opportunity to rethink how we function in this world, with each other, with nature and with wildlife. Everything was askew. 
And now? 


We wait to see if this demon in"flu"encer will leave us when it determines we are ready for change.

More of the world believes in a higher power than not. Maybe it's time for us to not only pray for "it" to "go away" but also pray for our individual strength and resolve to build a better world, a healthier planet.

When in all of history has each person, each country been in the throes of the very same fears and reactions? Not even during world wars. Let's embrace the worldwide power of this moment and come together in peace and harmony.

Our heartfelt compassion and sympathy for those families impacted by this global devastation. We offer love and hope for all of us to heal, to restore and to play a personal role in the upcoming impact of change.
_______________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, March 28, 2019:

"Don't get too close to my baby," says mama mongoose, one year ago today. See here for more photos.

The days turn into nights and the nights are never ending...A day in the life...


Beautiful statue at beach in Pondicherry.
At some point, we're going to run out of photos to share of India. In that case, we'll have no choice but to post without photos or add a few photos of the same date years ago.

Let's face it. For all of us in lockdown, at this place in time, our days and nights are relatively uneventful. We eat, we sleep, we read, we watch the news, we stream shows, we play games, we talk, and we laugh. Click "replay." It happens all over again.

For those of you with homes which is most of you, you do laundry, clean, make repairs, rebuild, re-do, re-design, cook, sit outdoors, talk on the phone or whatever one does when trapped in your home.
A church we visited in Pondicherry. 
In some ways, it's easier for us. We don't have a wall, staring at us pushing us to paint it, a closet to clean, a garage to reorganize, or windows to wash. All we have to do is hand wash our clothes each day, prepare the day's post, answer countless email messages from our readers, and at the end of the month, pay our credit card bills. 

Are we bored? Surprisingly, we're not. We could do this for many more months if necessary. We're bracing ourselves for that possibility. As long as we are safe and have a roof over our heads, we can handle it. How about you?

The routine for us is simple and uninspiring. We awake later than usual due to the darkening drapes in our room, often as late at 8:00 am. We take turns showering and dressing, then head downstairs to the hotel restaurant for breakfast, often ordering the same items as long as they remain available.
Our Lady of Angels Church is the fourth oldest church in Puducherry, a Union territory in South India. The original structure was built in Greco Roman architecture by Napoleon III in 1855, with the architect being Louis Guerre. It is the only church that offers mass in three languages namely French, Tamil and English.
Back up to our room after breakfast, we go online, checking the news for updates, often shocked by the new number of cases in the US that were calculated while we slept.

We work online, with me preparing the day's post and with Tom reading and reviewing his points of interest, often looking up facts and figures for me as I write.

When the cleaners come, we head downstairs to the lobby until their done. Once we return to the room, I begin my daily practice of walking in the halls, once every hour, in order to continue to build strength in my legs.
Stunning interior of Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in Pondicherry.
Usually, by 1:00 or 2:00 pm, I have completed and uploaded the post, Tom proofreads it for errors (we often miss several) and forwards a "text-only" email copy to his blind brother Jerome, who reads it daily from his talking computer.

From there, Tom listens to his favorite podcast, Garage Logic, from Minnesota while I watch mindless drivel on my laptop, simultaneously playing with my phone. 

As somewhat of a reality TV junkie, I'm currently watching "Married at First Sight," Australia version and I am on episode 5 of season 7. There are at least 25 episodes remaining. I can stand to watch two episodes a day. 
Entrance to cemetery in the French Quarter in Pondicherry.
When I get through season 7, I'll backtrack and start watching earlier seasons. That should keep me busy a few hours each day in-between stopping to walk the hallways.

Today, while it's the middle of the night in the US, I will stay on hold on the phone for what may be hours in a continuing effort to get a refund from Kenya Airways when we were turned away for our flight to South Africa last Friday. 

I'll do this while watching my show, setting the phone down with the speaker on while it's still plugged in. It's a toll-free number and I can wait for hours as long as I stay busy doing something else. 

At 7:00 pm, when the restaurant opens for dinner we head down to sit at the same table each night. By then, I'm starving. When we're living in a holiday home, if we get hungry for a snack, we grab a piece of cheese or raw veggies. Now we don't have such a luxury. The snacks in the minibar aren't suitable for my way of eating so no help there.
A shrine on the interior of a temple in Pondicherry.
We aren't ever hungry at lunchtime and we've always waited for dinner for the next meal. But during the late afternoon, I often find myself thinking of something to snack on. 

Oh well, this is our lives right now and we must make the best of it. Usually, a cup of tea or two gets me through those few hungry hours. In the realm of things, it's no big deal. Tom never seems to get hungry for a snack so this is not an issue for him.

After dinner, it's back to the room where we'll get comfy and stream a few episodes of our favorite shows, currently Survivor and Seal Team. By 11:00 pm, we're off to sleep to awaken the next morning to begin it all again.

What about YOU? We'd love to hear how some of you are spending your days and nights during the lockdown. Please post a comment at the end of each post for all of our readers to see. It's comforting to know we are not alone. Feel free to do so "anonymously" if you so choose.


Stay home. Stay safe. We'll all get through this!
_______________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, March 27, 2019:
Check out the muscles on this huge animal, a male kudu. "Little" is taking a drink from the cement pond in the background. For more photos, please click here.

Go figure...I did today's post and it disappeared...Here we go again...Lockdown continues...


When I originally took this photo of Tom's dinner a few weeks ago, he said, "Don't post that. It looks disgusting." Now, it's starting to look appetizing to both of us.
 As each day passes, we become more and more hopeful that this stunning hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott (see photos) close to the Mumbai Airport, will remain open for the long haul.

Of course, under these difficult circumstances, there is no guaranty. The decision to close will be up to their upper management based on continuing loss of revenue with so few guests on the premises.

This building was shown in a scene from the movie, Life of Pi, filmed in Chennai, India.
As an international conglomerate of hotels, we're thinking Marriott just may stay open since they are more well-capitalized than the small local hotels where we stayed over the past few weeks. Our fingers are crossed.

And, regardless of how difficult it becomes with limited services offered due to tightening their budget and government Covid-19 restrictions, we're determined to stay here regardless of the circumstances, as long as we have air-con and WiFi.

The two statues of a revered couple who were highly instrumental in doing good works for the Indian people.
The biggest challenge we're experiencing as guests is the lack of food inventory which continues to dwindle rapidly when suppliers simply aren't delivering food to hotels right now. That may change down the road, but for now, the dining options are restricted.

Each night at dinner they hand us a newly printed menu with the number of options shrinking exponentially. Soon, there will be little either of us can or will eat.

In that case, we may just resort to eating one big meal a day, preferably having breakfast-type meals midday to hopefully hold us through the evening. For the sake of maintaining my health and keeping Tom's sanity, this may end up being our best option.

This woman, on the side of the road, was shaking seeds out of a basket to be used in making vegetable oil.
Last night Tom was able to order a chicken and penne dish made with a white sauce. I ordered a paneer dish (which is a soft cheese, cut into cubes and referred to as "cottage cheese" in India, but doesn't resemble cottage cheese as we know it, at all) mixed into a spicy starch-free tomato sauce. 

Since the bowl of sauce and paneer was small, I also ordered roasted chicken and received two tiny pieces of pale-looking unseasoned chicken. It wasn't that appetizing. I have no doubt, this restaurant is wonderful under usual circumstances.

But, we are in difficult times and they are doing the very best they can with the products they have on hand to cook for these 20 rooms of guests. We have no doubt the options will continue to decline over the next many days. Somehow, we'll manage. If we have to we both can eat eggs, lots of eggs to carry us through.
Tom's meal from a few weeks ago, also looks appetizing.
We're grateful we are safe and in air-conditioned comfort with a strong Wi-Fi signal. During the day we can each stream our favorite shows/podcasts without any issues which manage to help us get through the long day.

In the evenings, after dinner, we stream a favorite TV series until it's time to go to sleep. Much to our surprise, both of us are sleeping well, as much as eight hours a night, odd for each of us. Maybe it's nature's way of helping us to tune out of this peculiar situation for a while. My nights are filled with wild dreams and convoluted stories.

As of today, since we received the cruise cancellation notice from Viking Cruise Lines, we've been self-isolating for two full weeks. The only times we've been out have been when going to at an ATM, traveling to various hotels, to the airport to fly from Madurai to Mumbai and again to the airport and back last Friday when we were turned away for our flight. 
An artfully designed temple built over 1000 years ago in Chennai.
In each instance, we wore face masks and sanitized/washed our hands obsessively. As each day passes, we continue to hope we haven't been infected with both of us feeling well and energized. I continue to walk the hallways, never encountering any other guests, although all of us are situated on the fourth floor.

The pool, the bar, the health club, and another restaurant continue to stay closed, due to governmental order. We look forward to the day when all of this can change and all of us can continue on with our lives. When will that day come? No one knows. Except, logic dictates, that total lockdown is the answer.

Stay safe.
_______________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2019:
This is my boy, Little. How does a person fall in love with a pig? For more photos, please click here.