Dear Diary: How the pandemic reminds this Calgarian of what it’s like being a newcomer to the city

CBC Calgary wants to know how you are living these days. What are you doing differently? What makes you laugh? Cry? Scream? Have you started a new hobby? Let us know.

 In this instalment of our series Dear Diary: In a Time of COVID-19, Sharmila Ranabhat reflects on her time in isolation, the new hobby she’s taken up, and how living through the pandemic reminds her of when she first arrived in Calgary. This submission has been edited for clarity and length.

When the government asked us to stay home, I did not anticipate limiting my movements for this long. It is strange to think that 70 days have already passed as of May 24th. 

Staying in a limited space with no human contact except my family reminded me of the significance of human relationships. In the first few weeks, I did not see many faces in my neighborhood. Not seeing human faces brought my memory back to winter days when we first landed in Calgary. A person coming from a hustle and bustle environment back home, where I could watch the constant movement of people ranging from local farmers, grocers, elders to university students from my window every day in Kirtipur, Nepal, made me nostalgic. I felt like I was suddenly in a sleeping neighborhood in the city. Similar to that memory, self-isolation brings back the semblance of uncertainty and change. Fortunately, thanks to the e-conference apps, I am having virtual get-togethers with my loved ones in various countries who are also on the same ride. However, I do not feel the same happy energy as people’s physical presence in e-conferencing. I dearly miss a hug, a handshake, a smile, a friendly wave, and the energy of colleagues and students walking the campus hallways.

Certainly, the pandemic has heightened the uncertainty of the economy and employment and has left many people in financial distress. Fortunately, my husband and I are still employed and able to join hands with a group of Nepali friends to support people in need, not only here but also in my birthplace, Nepal. Whenever something happens in the country, our Nepali friends and community come together to pool resources and offer support whatever we can. This makes me feel a sense of belonging to the inspiring and compassionate community.

Sharmila Ranabhat poses with the earrings she has started making during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted by: Sharmila Ranabhat)

Presently, I am utilizing my spare time as an opportunity to explore my hobbies and I discovered an interest in making earrings, which I would otherwise never think of attempting. Since then I have made quite a few pairs, and have created a messy workstation in my bedroom corner. I always believe in giving back to the community and now, with these earrings, I can, and have been looking for some possible avenues for fundraising to support the vulnerable population. 

Meanwhile, my seven years old asks me every morning if the coronavirus is gone yet and if it will ever go away. He wants to know if he can visit his friends or go out. It has been 59 days since he set foot in a playground. I hope one day very soon, I will have all his questions answered. 

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