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Coming back home in times of corona


Here we are, back in Europe. Last few days were a complete emotional roller coaster, it went pretty much like this: 9.03 - After the #LSuC2020 we went to Bikaner to celebrate the Holi. For the first time some people on the street would scream "corona" as we passed by. Nepal closed borders for Italians (we supposed to leave India at the end of the month as our visa was over, and go to Nepal). 10.03 - Nepal closed borders for everybody, India closed borders for Italians. 11.03 - India closed borders for everybody, but allowed those who are inside to stay. We started to discuss what to do, deciding initially to stay in India and apply for visa extension. 13.03 - We went to the FRRO office (foreign office) in Amritsar, where we wanted to ask for visa extension. At the beginning they denied it, then they told us to do it online and register at the police in the place we would stay for the all crisis period. We started to wonder where to go. We had quite a few close friends who offered us to stay in their place. 14.03 - We decided to follow the initial plan of volunteering in an Ashram in Rishikesh and see how the situation would develop. 15.03 - Just before entering the Ashram, they asked us to bring a health certificate. We went to the hospital to discover that Sundays they don't provide this service. The Ashram told us to come back for it the day after and only then join them. The health check up, which we already did a week before, says only that at the moment we have no symptoms. It doesn't give a definite answer about the virus, and the tests needed for that are done only in few places in the country. But to get checked we would need to cross the emergency, where people who have symptoms actually come. In this situation we decided to not come back the day after, resign from volunteering in the Ashram and start to look for our way back to Europe. The all thing started to be more tense, people were suspicious toward foreigners, blaming them for spreading the virus. 16.03 - We bought tickets to Italy for the 22.03. We couldn't go to Poland, as Andrea wouldn't be allowed to enter. 18.03 - Our flight was cancelled. We spent few hours looking for alternative solutions, contacting airlines, embassies, etc. Finally Alitalia proposed us new tickets for the 23.03. We moved to New Delhi to our friend. He accepted us to stay but he had to face his neighbors' complains, as they didn't want him to host foreigners. Meanwhile a lot of stories of foreigners kicked out of hostels appeared in social media. People covered their faces when they saw us and seemed to believe that white people are more likely to have the virus, regardless of the fact that we were in India long before the virus started. 19.03 - India announced complete stop of international connections from the 22.03, which meant our flight the 23.03 wouldn't go. We rushed to the airport, to try and get into the last Alitalia flight to Rome, at 4.00 am. We knew chances are close to zero, but we decided to ask to reschedule our ticket. For 6h we were standing in front of the small office being told the only option was to buy a new ticket for thousands of euro, or that the flight is too full, or that rescheduling is impossible, etc. Finally, at 3.00 am they gave boarding passes. 20.03 - At 8.00 am Italian time we landed in Rome. Most of the trains are cancelled in Italy, but after many changes of plans we managed to reach Fano - Andrea's home town. And we started our 14 days quarantine.

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