A friend’s acceptance to Warwick University had me travelling to Bengaluru. What is a pandemic between friendships? I would cross mountains and valleys, to see my friend off.
But this time it was a little different.
Tickets came cheap since I had booked my tickets a month ago. Even after that, the situation looked a little dicey. I would have to cancel my trip if the situation were to get worse in my city or his. I was stepping outside my city after nearly two years. As excited as I was, it was also a mix of varied emotions. I was scared because there’s a life-threatening virus on the prowl and here, I am exposing myself to it. I was excited because I was going to surprise my friend. He had no idea I was visiting him. I was anxious because travelling during this time is very different from what it used to be.
Before you leave for any other city, by air or land you must check at least a week ago about the formalities before you enter a city. All states have different protocols and safety measures for travellers. Most of them require you to carry a negative RT-PCR report of no more than 72 hours from the sample collection. If you have taken both doses of the vaccine, please carry your documents as proof. All of this will be checked by the officers from CISF, and you will also have to prove your identity.
While flying, carry a small bottle of water and snacks. Flights with durations of less than two hours will not serve food or beverages. Additionally, if you’re seated in the middle seat you will have to be properly dressed in your PPE kit. Others just must wear their masks and a face shield.
It’s not a very comfortable experience, with a mask and face shield. This made me realise that I would avoid travel unless necessary.
There were quite a lot of seats empty, but people weren’t socially distant. This made me a little anxious; and fortunately, I had nobody seated next to me. As much relief I felt with that, I was made even more anxious during the de-boarding process. New procedures require you to get off the plane in turn. The air hostesses will not allow you to stand up and crowd. Everyone is asked to get off in an orderly manner and in turn. Something I hope is implemented even after the pandemic is over. I’m never in a hurry so I leave at the end especially this time. The anxiety kicks in again once I board the shuttle which will take me to my luggage belt. No social distancing norms were followed.
Bengaluru has great connectivity via buses. However, I decided to take a cab from the airport. I felt it was extremely important as an individual to be aware of my surroundings, be cautious with the virus. I may have the privilege of flying and travelling, I must honour it by being as careful as possible.
My stay was in a club that had strict rules about social distancing. I had to produce my RT-PCR certificate and my vaccination documents. These two documents are sacrosanct. You must always have them on you. Once I was in the city I did not roam around much and was confined to my room until I met my friend.
My overall experience
Even though there were extreme measures taken by authorities to scan the people for any symptoms of coronavirus, there was no absolute way to find out. There have been several cases of people forging their RT-PCR and vaccinations. In order to minimise the risk, I will abstain from travelling for as long as can. The airports are crowded, and social distancing isn’t followed at all times.
I’d love to live another day when I can travel hassle-free post the pandemic gets over.
It is also understandable that commute via air may have to be necessary because of unseen circumstances. It is strongly advised to double mask. One with a surgical mask and the other with a cloth. You must have a face shield on, along with sanitation of your hands as much as possible.
Hope we get back to the old times of travelling. Let’s break the chain and stay safe!