Kapoor Year 14B: India And COVID-19 travel blog

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KAPOORS ON THE ROAD

The festivities planned for the celebration of Arun and Neena’s 50th Wedding Anniversary were quite naturally toned down because of the death of our sister in law Neeta, Anil’s brother’s wife. She died suddenly and unexpectedly on October 25, 2019. Of the four siblings, and their spouses, a group we referred to often as the ‘Gang of Eight’, she was the youngest, just 61 years old.

Everyone was coming together in Delhi, at Ajay and Neeta’s house, and it had only been a little over three months since we had gathered there to perform one of the last Hindu rites, the one that is believed to free the soul from the vicinity of the home, allowing it to proceed to yet another turning on the cycle of reincarnation.

The other reason was the progress of the virus that was striking at the centre of China, and appeared to be spreading beyond its borders. The younger son of the anniversary couple was planning to come to Delhi with his wife and young daughter from their home in Los Angeles, but at the last minute, we unable to do so, because his employer told him, that while he couldn’t forbid him from travelling overseas as the virus was spreading, he would have to go into a 14-day quarantine, during which time he would have to use additional vacation time, or go without pay, before he could return to his job.

It didn’t make sense for the family to face those consequences, and so they stayed home. Arun and Neena’s older son lives nearby, so he and his wife were able to meet with everyone, but we did not see their children because they were preparing for examinations at the time.

It was quite a crowd of people gathering in Delhi, and Ajay couldn’t begin to accommodate everyone, but one of the plans that was hatched, was to treat the anniversary couple to two nights at the posh Taj Vivanta hotel, that just so happens to be located directly across the street from Ajay’s apartment building. So, after the dinner at the Monsoon restaurant, they were taken to the Vivanta and the following evening, February 10th, fifty years from the date of their wedding, we all descended on their hotel room to bring them a cake, balloons, greeting cards, and loads of hugs and kisses.

We didn’t stay long because we didn’t want to raise the attention of the hotel staff, so we headed back across the street to have drinks, snacks and then a great meal of Hyderabadi biryani. The eating continued the next day as the whole gang headed across Delhi to the suburb called Gurugram, to a restaurant called the Carnatic Café. There were South Indian restaurants closer to Ajay’s home, but this one does the classic dishes with a flair, and their ice cream is divine.

And so, the enjoyment of getting together, and eating delicious food continued for several days. There was no way Ajay could begin to provide meals for everyone, so we planned for different places to eat on alternate days, and the ones in between, we made do, to great success, by having a healthy meal at mid-day, and indulging in drinks and an array of snacks ordered from outside. One afternoon, we arranged for those who were available, to come to the AirBnB for lunch. It was a big success, and it gave everyone a chance to see where we were staying.

All in all, I think Arun and Neena were happy with the celebrations, given the circumstances that caused us to be more subdued that we might have been earlier. As it turned out, when we were due to fly west to Ahmedabad, Arun and Neena were flying east, in the opposite direction, to their home in Patna. Their son was supposed to fly with them, but he was the one who was stuck in Los Angeles because of the novel coronavirus.

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