Quarantined: How My Travel Taught Me to Stay Strong During Coronavirus Crisis
Avid travel buff Misbaah Mansuri is missing the opportunity to explore the world, since, like the rest of us, she stays at home during COVID. But these very trips offer lessons in resilience, she finds out
With the unfolding global Coronavirus pandemic, leading to borders being shut, people self-quarantining and several people walking themselves off the outside world, it can be hard not to feel too overwhelmed by the state of everything unfolding around us right now. Life’s uncertainty feels more vivid than ever during this pandemic. Being someone who lives off her suitcase, the situation has left me feeling lost in my own home- what a feeling. The thought that occurs to me is how can I survive this disorientation and dislocation?
I’m not sure whether I’m going to get through these days by pulling out my board games or trying my hands on different variations on Dalgona Coffee, although I’m doing a lot of it.
But what has sustained me during these challenging times is noticing the small parts of my life that I love. These are from my travels around the world, the postcard induced fantasies that I lived and the joys of travel that have imbibed in me the desire to live life to the fullest, be a free soul and most importantly the biggest learning: be fearless yet cautious.
My travel experiences held a mirror to my fears and taught me that in most cases the only thing that you have to fear is fear itself. Yes, scary things have happened. One of such experiences came when I was staying at a tree-house at a newly-launched property in Goa. In the middle of the night, I could hear the treehouse being tarred apart and ripped to shreds. It was a cyclone that had hit the region. All I could see for miles was smashed up tents. But it didn’t turned out to be a major disaster. At the resort, an efficient army of staff managed to help us get out and my next hotel that I had booked a stay at- Taj Exotica did their bit by helping me with an earlier check-in.
Another one was during a serious malfunction on a plane in Phuket. There again, with the help of others, I made through. And what this taught me was: when we fixate on the scary things out there, it takes the spotlight off the people bettering the world. From daredevil tuk-tuk drivers to pickpockets in crowded squares, I’ve seen it all. And I learnt that much like this crisis when you learn to take reasonable precautions, things usually turn out okay. I trusted and more often than not, I made it.
After spending so much time on various airports and public places, I in fact started the sanitization and distancing precautions almost three years back. Now they’re old hacks.
My solo travels have been one of the best teachers and are giving me a lot of strength to survive through the cloud of uncertainty that scenario has brought in. I have imbibed that travelling by myself can be daunting but empowering: something that helps me sail through this self-isolation phase. I ponder over how I took self-propelled journeys with my slow travels and came out of this: glowing inside out. From a moving cabana massage in the rain at Koh Samui to an incredible Tibetan healing session at Ananda in the Himalayas, I’ve had some of the best travel experiences all by myself. And they have changed into a person who feels a sense of freedom, being in-charge of my own pace, detours and destinations.
It made me feel the joy in small things: seeing small rivers gush down milky while stone steps or biblical monsoon rains washing away the landscape. So if at all, the inside of me feels undefined and anxious, I pause at the outside world for a moment and remember of how much I love the fog and the snow. It makes me think of my first experience with snow in Gstaad. When I was shining, smiling happiness. It taught me that there’s value in the small pleasures. Without the bitter cold, there wouldn’t be an opportunity to appreciate the warmth on your skin. Something which is very relevant to this lockdown situation. It could make us endlessly grateful for the smaller things: the chance to get outside, savour it all, open street corners and everything we took for granted previously. Then I feel better. It’s only for a moment but I feel better.
One of the greatest things about travel is that it teaches you to be patient and adaptive to situations around. It shows you that borders aren’t real, they only exist in people’s mind.
It’s amazing how every little etch left on my soul by my travel experiences makes me breathe, believe and look forward to creating more memories. The kind of ones that give me a sense of being lost in a delirious soup of cosmic consciousness. The ones that give me comfort even during such turbulent times. I cannot wait for the dust to settle down and for my next trip. But this time, I swear to live every moment (even more) and admire the snow fakes, the sun and sea, a bit longer than I ever did before...