NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, June 13th, 2020

The Pandemic is Personal: Rituja Indapure on how COVID-19 has changed everyday life

Editor’s note: Wel­come to The Pan­dem­ic is Per­son­al, a week­ly series focus­ing on on how the nov­el coro­n­avirus (SARS-CoV­­‑2) is affect­ing the every­day lives of peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west. We hope to enlight­en you and reflect on what you and oth­ers are address­ing as this pan­dem­ic runs its course.

If you have a sto­ry to tell, please feel free to con­tact us.

This week, NPI Advi­so­ry Coun­cilmem­ber Rit­u­ja Inda­pure describes what her spring was like dur­ing the worst pan­dem­ic in mod­ern times. 

March 14th, 2020

It’s mid­night, and I’m at the Mum­bai Inter­na­tion­al Air­port.

The line at the lug­gage check-in counter is long.

No one is wear­ing masks. I have a cou­ple in my back­pack. My neigh­bor in Pune went to the mar­ket and brought me a cou­ple of cloth masks before I left.

I plan to wear one inside the air­plane, but don’t see the need to wear it in pub­lic. I’m hyper-vig­i­lant of some­one cough­ing or sneez­ing.

I have twen­­ty-one hours of flight time until I reach home in Seat­tle!

With the lug­gage checked in, I head to the secu­ri­ty check­point which is packed with peo­ple. There are sep­a­rate lines for men and women.

I see women in shorts, in hijabs, in jeans, in sarees.

It seems like peo­ple from all over the world are rep­re­sent­ed in that line.

With infec­tion and death rates sky­rock­et­ing in Italy and Spain, the Unit­ed States has announced that it’s shut­ting down transat­lantic flights.

Amer­i­can cit­i­zens who have been trav­el­ing abroad for work, tourism, edu­ca­tion or to meet fam­i­ly are rush­ing back. In this line too, mask wear­ing is spot­ty, but the policee offi­cer who inspects us does have a mask on.

On to the board­ing area, and I find a spot away from crowds. I put on my cloth mask now as I sit alone con­tem­plat­ing my clean­ing pro­ce­dure once I sit in the air­plane.

Even­tu­al­ly it’s 3:30 am, and we are board­ing the flight.

It’s a packed flight. I’ve done research on win­dow ver­sus aisle seats. I have cho­sen the rec­om­mend­ed win­dow seat. None of the air­line’s staff are wear­ing face masks or gloves. I’m scared for their health.

It’s just past 6 AM when we land at Dubai Inter­na­tion­al Air­port. It’s a long way to my next gate. So many peo­ple here. I start walk­ing towards my gate, but the way is roped off. I can get in only through a check­point.

All pas­sen­gers trav­el­ing to the Unit­ed States are screened for tem­per­a­ture and oth­er symp­toms of a viral infec­tion. I’m trav­el­ing alone, but feel real­ly bad for par­ents trav­el­ing with young chil­dren. Long flights with young kids is hard!

My flight from Dubai to Seat­tle is four­teen hours long. I could­n’t secure a win­dow seat, let alone a seat in a row just by myself. I’m wor­ried, but put on my cloth mask and board the plane. I sit in my assigned aisle seat next to a gen­tle­man who works as a truck dri­ver and lives in Kent.

His fam­i­ly lives in Kenya, but work is in Seat­tle. He coughs.

He is not wear­ing a mask.

We are in the air and the seat-belt sign is off.

I ask the air­line staff if there are any open seats. He says, “Why don’t you look around?” I walk around and am delight­ed when I see an emp­ty row! It’s right next to the restroom, but who cares… I can sit alone!

From the air­craft, as we cross the Cas­cades, I can see it’s a gor­geous day.

We land in Seat­tle just after 1:30 PM local time.

Mul­ti­ple inter­na­tion­al flights have arrived at Sea-Tac around the same time. There is a long line of peo­ple wait­ing to get through immi­gra­tion.

No one is wear­ing masks, and we aren’t being asked to keep space between us, either. I down­load the Mobile Pass­port App, insert the need­ed infor­ma­tion and jump ahead of the line. I wait for my lug­gage to arrive, pick it up and pro­ceed to Cus­toms. None of the cus­tom offi­cers are wear­ing a mask.

I clear U.S. Cus­toms and hop onto Sound Tran­sit’s Link light rail sys­tem. In less than five min­utes, I’m out of the air­port and on my way home!

April 14th, 2020

It’s been a month since we’ve all start­ed work­ing from home. We are tak­ing it day by day. I’m used to see­ing every­one in per­son each day, so I miss not see­ing them. For each inter­ac­tion, I now have to set up a meet­ing.

My cal­en­dar is get­ting full.

Slow­ly we’ve start­ed set­ting up our office space at home.

For some, it’s meant buy­ing a new office chair.

Many of us have tak­en our work mon­i­tors and key­boards home.

Until now, we were famil­iar only with Google Chat, but slow­ly we all are becom­ing experts at oth­er appli­ca­tions for “live” meet­ings. Zoom, Teams, Webex…

Recent­ly a team­mate had a birth­day, and we had a “vir­tu­al” sur­prise birth­day par­ty for him! We got hold of his wife, who snuck out and got a birth­day cake.

I sched­uled a “check-in” meet­ing with him and invit­ed all the oth­er team mem­bers. Once he logged in, we sang and his wife cel­e­brat­ed with the cake!

In the four weeks since we’ve start­ed work­ing from home, I’ve seen a few kids who want to “par­tic­i­pate” in the meet­ings.

I under­stand their curios­i­ty and the nov­el­ty of see­ing their par­ents work­ing from home, so I had a meet­ing with just the kids! It was fan­tas­tic — some sang poems, some just want­ed to see who was on the oth­er side of the screen!

I do wor­ry about how kids will react once the par­ents start going back to work. Will they become too attached to their par­ents and not want to go back to school?

May 14th, 2020

The Sam­mamish Y Advi­so­ry Board con­tin­ues to have its month­ly meet­ings. They con­tin­ue to pro­vide babysit­ting and oth­er ser­vices for essen­tial work­ers, but are closed as a gym. COVID-19 has impact­ed this non-prof­it on mul­ti­ple fronts.

How­ev­er, even with the reduced staff, they con­tin­ue to engage with the com­mu­ni­ty by call­ing and check­ing in on seniors and pro­vid­ing meals.

I con­tin­ue to be engaged in con­ver­sa­tions about how to sup­port the com­mu­ni­ty in their men­tal well-being needs.

With the stay at home order in place as a result of COVID-19, the rate of domes­tic vio­lence and sex­u­al abuse is on the rise.

For young peo­ple who live in homes where they feel threat­ened, they are unable to report or talk to some­one they can trust.

This real­ly weighs on my mind. How­ev­er, it was encour­ag­ing to hear at the KCSARC (King Coun­ty Sex­u­al Assault Resource Cen­ter) Hon­orary Board meet­ing that coun­sel­ing ses­sions are tak­ing place via HIPAA‑compliant video calls.

API Chaya, which pro­vides cul­­tur­al­­ly-rel­e­­vant vio­lence pre­ven­tion efforts and mul­ti­lin­gual sur­vivor ser­vices, has its twen­ty-fifth anniver­sary com­ing up!

It’s a dif­fi­cult time to do fundrais­ing. The stock mar­ket is down, peo­ple are feel­ing fraz­zled. I hope to ral­ly my friends and encour­age them to do their best.

I filed to be a precinct com­mit­tee offi­cer in my state leg­isla­tive dis­trict. Help­ing elect pro­gres­sive can­di­dates is some­thing I want to con­tin­ue to do.

Since I’m on the East­side Democ­rats Fundrais­ing Com­mit­tee, we’ve been brain­storm­ing ideas on whether to change the date of the fundrais­ing din­ner (we had a fab­u­lous event at the Sno­qualmie Casi­no last year), or move it to an online event.

For the third month in a row, the Sam­mamish Munic­i­pal Plan­ning Com­mis­sion meet­ing has been can­celled due to COVID-19.

(Almost!) June 14th, 2020

Ear­ly in the morn­ing, I dropped off our son at work.

In late Feb­ru­ary, he start­ed work­ing at a local QFC store and since he is an “essen­tial work­er,” he has con­tin­ued to work.

He has stayed healthy and it’s been inter­est­ing to see the pro­gres­sion of not being required to wear masks to now sport­ing a rain­bow col­ored mask!

All his class­es at Run­ning Start at Belle­vue Col­lege are online, but in talk­ing to him and his peers, they real­ly don’t like online class­es.

He miss­es going to the gym, play­ing vol­ley­ball with his friends and hang­ing out with his jazz and band mates at school.

My daugh­ter is fin­ish­ing off her finals for her junior year of col­lege!

She was look­ing for­ward to a study abroad pro­gram in Ghana this sum­mer, and is dis­ap­point­ed that it got can­celled.

Online class­es are not the same as in per­son, and labs are impos­si­ble online!

She is healthy and care­ful with social­iz­ing, but also joined in the march­es sup­port­ing Black Lives Mat­ter last week.

Over the week­end she’s attend­ing a teach-in on how to cre­ate a more equi­table soci­ety! I can’t wait to have her home in the sum­mer!

Our dog now looks pre­sentable.

She has­n’t been groomed since March, but she got a nice hair­cut last week.

My hus­band and I are still tak­ing turns cook­ing.

Wednes­days are “fend for your­self” days. We get super-cre­a­tive and cre­ate con­coc­tions from what­ev­er is avail­able at home. Fri­days and week­ends, we order from our favorite local restau­rants. We all now wear masks when we go out.

Mom and Dad in India are doing okay. It’s been hard on them with Dad’s dia­betes and him not being able to exer­cise reg­u­lar­ly.

At times, get­ting fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles was also a prob­lem. Mom has learned to order online and is expect­ing her fresh fruit and veg­etable bas­ket on Sun­day.

I can’t believe it’s been three months since we’ve all been work­ing from home, stay­ing home and not social­iz­ing.

Inter­na­tion­al trav­el is not yet at full capac­i­ty.

Many flights are not avail­able for non-essen­­tial trav­el. My work col­leagues are get­ting into a rhythm of work­ing from home.

Many appre­ci­ate not hav­ing to sit in traf­fic and dri­ve long dis­tances to work.

Some are get­ting lone­ly and would love a chance to be around peo­ple. We’ve put tremen­dous ener­gy into our fundrais­ing efforts, and peo­ple have been both com­pelled to sup­port caus­es for a bet­ter com­mu­ni­ty and gen­er­ous as a result.

I’ve gained an appre­ci­a­tion for sim­ple things like tak­ing a walk in the neigh­bor­hood or writ­ing a note. I’m grate­ful for heart­felt con­ver­sa­tions with friends with whom I’ve not con­nect­ed in years. I’m thank­ful for my friends who’ve shown resolve and con­vic­tion in stand­ing up for what’s right and for their val­ues.

I’m in grat­i­tude for the com­mu­ni­ty that uplifts me, holds me account­able and inspires me to be a bet­ter per­son every sin­gle day.

Adjacent posts

  • Enjoyed what you just read? Make a donation


    Thank you for read­ing The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s jour­nal of world, nation­al, and local pol­i­tics.

    Found­ed in March of 2004, The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate has been help­ing peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west and beyond make sense of cur­rent events with rig­or­ous analy­sis and thought-pro­vok­ing com­men­tary for more than fif­teen years. The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate is fund­ed by read­ers like you and trust­ed spon­sors. We don’t run ads or pub­lish con­tent in exchange for mon­ey.

    Help us keep The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate edi­to­ri­al­ly inde­pen­dent and freely avail­able to all by becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute today. Or make a dona­tion to sus­tain our essen­tial research and advo­ca­cy jour­nal­ism.

    Your con­tri­bu­tion will allow us to con­tin­ue bring­ing you fea­tures like Last Week In Con­gress, live cov­er­age of events like Net­roots Nation or the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, and reviews of books and doc­u­men­tary films.

    Become an NPI mem­ber Make a one-time dona­tion