Expat Stories: Lockdown in India, COVID-19, Discrimination, and Life Update

It’s been a while since I’ve given you an update on my life as an American Expat living in India. So, here we go… an update.

Today I will be sharing information from my point of view about what Hyderabad, India is currently like during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. I will also talk about social discrimination and if I think I will return to the US anytime soon.

Coronavirus cases are on the rise here in India, and in particular, Hyderabad.

Coronavirus cases are on the rise in India. I think the most interesting thing about what coronavirus looks like here in Hyderabad, where I live, is that lockdown restrictions have eased quite a bit.  Like most people, I have been a bit confused living through such a paradox. The fact that India has been slowly opening up while cases are increasing at a high rate is troubling. People have even talked about their frustration with the lack of transparency seen regarding confirmed COVID-19 case numbers, testing, and the availability of medical care.

Poor Infrastructure and Resuming Travel

Another issue is that India’s poor infrastructure does not support the high numbers of COVID-19 cases we are seeing.  This lack of institutional structure ties to a lack of availability for patient care and even available hospital beds.

A few airlines have resumed flights for essential travel. I read that it is only recommended you travel if you absolutely have to. This is because flights can be long and restrictions are tighter than normal. To me, this sounds uncomfortable and I do not want to put myself in this situation unless I have to so, I will not be traveling anytime soon.

Social Discrimination

Along with Coronavirus updates relating to India, I want to discuss the social discrimination I’ve read about, seen, and experienced.  There is a stigma surrounding COVID-19 and those who contract the illness.  Social discrimination reports shared by many showcase the stigma people have faced over the past few months. Unfortunately stigmatized individuals find it incredibly more difficult to deal with the virus because of societal judgment.

This video was filmed on June 18th. Coronavirus in India statistics: June 18th: 354,000 + reported cases | 12,000 + deaths June 21st: 395,000 reported cases | 12,948 deaths source: Google location statistics

For example, Indian Air crewmembers were stigmatized when they had the word ‘Quarantine’ stamped on their residential doors. This action singled them out in their neighborhoods and isolated them further. 

People who contracted COVID-19 had their addresses mentioned

Something similar happened to people in my neighborhood that became infected with the virus. I am apart of an online social group. In this group, the people who contracted COVID-19 had their addresses mentioned.

I know the people in my neighborhood are nice but the outing of addresses in the public group further stigmatized those with the illness. By association, the application of social discrimination happens to the family members and caregivers of those infected as well.

Expat Life In India

My Experience With Social Discrimination In India

My husband and I ordered food two weeks into our quarantine, before India’s first lockdown. We had it delivered to our door for convenience. We took all of the necessary precautions to make sure we were safe and I know the delivery service did the same.  Later that day, someone posted that they were unhappy in the neighborhood group chat because someone brought outside food into the neighborhood.

They then suggested that if coronavirus enters the complex, it would be the fault of the person(s) who ordered the outside food. The judgment was real and I felt it. For a while, we stopped ordering food to comply with lockdown orders. But not necessarily to appease our neighbors. We are okay with judgment. It happens to us all the time. It is just unfortunate that people feel the right to make their own rules in an effort for others to follow their lead.

Do I Want To Go Back To The US?

I have been paying a lot of attention to US news and seeing the racial injustice that has plagued the country.  Although I live abroad, the things that have happened in the States have affected me personally. I have really been considering if I would ever want to go ‘home’ again.  The life of a black expat abroad is much more appealing than the thought of being another black person in the US right now.  I do not feel like the US is a safe option for me, mentally or physically.   The idea that I or my family members could die at the hands of police brutality is scary.  It is also scary to see how racist ordinary people are and the manifestation of their racism during this time.  Let me know if you want to read more about this particular topic in a future post.  

Right now, I am grateful we have the opportunity to stay in India.

I do not have plans to leave India anytime soon. The fact that we get to stay and are comfortable in our home is nice.  As long as I continue to follow the rules and keep working I know I will remain healthy and safe until we do decide it is time for us to move to the next place. 

Stay Safe and Healthy,

-Jasmine 

Sources From Today’s Post and Video:

Coronavirus India HIGHLIGHTS: https://bit.ly/3fKQNa9 COVID-19

Is Leading to a New Wave of Social Stigma: https://bit.ly/3hNriGS Google Location Statistics: https://bit.ly/2YnQXyt

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