The lockdown months in 2020 were full of revelation for many traveller-readers of ETPanache Travel. Here’s how they stayed motivated with a strong hope for better days ahead.Call it lockdown diaries or stories of sheer grit, the year of 2020 has been nothing short of a struggle for everyone. Travellers and professionals who are required to move from one destination to another for their work, were hit the hardest. While some couldn’t initiate any work, others got stuck in one place for weeks and months. With finances trickling down and concerns for health rising, ET-Panache Travel touched base with its readers to share their lockdown struggle and yet, all remain hopeful again to explore faraway lands. Here is a heart-warming compilation:

WE GOT MARRIED DURING LOCKDOWN

Kenil Jain, IT professional

My wedding was scheduled to take place on 15 June, 2020 at our native town of Rajasthan with my dream girl Simran.

The entire plan was set much in advance in the year 2019 itself with invitations given out and much celebrations planned in store. The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 hit both of us as a major shock. I had never imagined how difficult the physical and logistical movement will turn out to be in 2020 around the actual wedding date. My family began to toy with the idea about postponing all celebrations and rituals to a full year ahead.

Agencies

YOUNG COUPLE: Kenil Jain with wife Simran

However, as luck would have it (or perhaps our prayers), just in time, the Indian Government regulations came in wherein 50 members were allowed to be a part of a wedding ceremony. We were keen to stick to the mahurat date (auspicious date for both sides of bride and groom). So, we cut down on community-driven rituals of Haldi, Sangeet etc. The families could not do much shopping either for gifting purposes. Luckily, my good lady and I pre-planned our wedding outfits during our courtship days and that came handy. With some personal compromises and big guest list adjustments, the wedding was conducted on the set date at our Mumbai residence. Few important ceremonial rituals were followed with the blessings of just direct family members from each side.

SOON ENOUGH: As a newly married couple, Simran and I have a list of plans made already with a hope that this tough Covid-19 phase would completely settle down. We are truly excited about a pleasant long vacation as husband and wife. We wish to explore domestic locations up North. Soon, as darker clouds clear out, we wish to indulge in a romantic vacation to Switzerland and France. Wish us luck!

I GOT A JOB IN CANADA AND HAD TO REPORT ON-GROUND

Priyanka Ketkar, Multimedia Editor

I was in India just before the pandemic-related lockdowns started in March 2020. Since I have been living in the USA for the past four years and was only visiting parents in India this time, I managed to go back to Seattle in the beginning of March, 2020. I promptly followed all quarantine norms like everyone else for a month. Then something fairly unexpected happened; I got a job…in Canada. I didn’t move immediately and worked from home for a few weeks but then had to travel to be ‘boots on ground’. So, in May of 2020, I flew down to Vancouver. Yet again, quarantined there for 14 days and then drove down to the remote British Columbia (B.C.) village – the Village of Burns Lake that I am currently in.

Priyanka Ketkar in Canada (Pic: Shashank Bangera)Agencies

Priyanka Ketkar in Canada (Pic: Shashank Bangera)

It’s funny how life works out sometimes, when I moved to this little village in British Columbia, I realized that with no public transportation and the closest airport being 200 kms away, with just three to four places to eat out, people here were not confined within their four walls. So, I spent the summer doing a lot of socially-distanced activities like kayaking and hiking.

I WISH TO BE IN INDIA: International travel is still too risky and scary for me. So, once things settle down, my first stop is definitely going to be back in India to see all my family and friends.

ART KEPT US INSPIRED ALL ALONG

Unnati Singh, prominent multidisciplinary artist from Mumbai and
Siddarth Kararwal, well-known sculptor from Jaipur / Delhi

We felt truly fortunate, grateful and so touched by the warm hospitality of renowned artist Francis Gomela and his wife Heyka at Plan B Artist Studios in Greece during the Covid-19 lockdown phase. Here’s what we went through:

In early March of 2020, I – Unnati Singh from Mumbai and Siddarth Kararwal from Delhi flew down to Greece to participate in the prestigious art residency hosted by renowned artist Francis Gomela. We were the only two Indian artists who were invited there amongst other participating artists. Incidentally, Greece had announced lockdown before India announced it and when we reached the Plan B Art Studios in Greece, we realised that Covid-19 measures were already getting stricter and the borders were being sealed.

AWESOME TRIO: Renowned artist Francis Gomela with sculptor Siddharth Kararwal and multi-disciplinary artist Unnati Singh in GreeceAgencies

AWESOME TRIO: Renowned artist Francis Gomela with sculptor Siddharth Kararwal and multi-disciplinary artist Unnati Singh in Greece.

As days passed, we were home-bound and the warm hosts artist Francis and Heyka ensured that our comfort remains their highest priority. We immersed ourselves in artistic pursuit and worked every day with great enthusiasm by the sea and at the olive orchards. Plan B Artist Studios had locational advantage – a beautiful villa with private botanical gardens offering picturesque sea views of the Corinthian Gulf in Greece. My art installation work called ‘The Web’ in the olive orchards of the art residency went on successfully and non-stop during our stay. Prominent sculptor Siddharth Kararwal work titled ‘Allegory of the Cave’ was successfully completed too.

During daytime, we kept on working on our art work and by the evenings, the hosts would screen films at home for us to keep us entertained. In fact, I also celebrated by birthday in Greece and the hosts made it so much more special by calling their friends over. We maintained all safety precautions and it turned out to be my lockdown birthday with a silver lining.

Our month-long art residency was now extended and with months passing, our return tickets to India kept getting cancelled as lockdown got further extended in order to contain the Covid-19 spread. In May, we moved internally in the country and shifted to Athens. Some art galleries were open there with restricted visitors. I could visit some galleries as part of work and then just go sight-seeing to the touristy landmark of The Colosseum. Eventually, we got a confirmed flight ticket from Athens to Frankfurt and boarded Vande Bharat flight to Mumbai and New Delhi respectively. The feeling remains inexplicable where sanitisation of hands and wearing a facemask with goggles for long hours during the transit between airports and also onboard became a fixture. Finally, it was touch-down in India.

AT HOME FINALLY: In June 2020, after following quarantine norms at designated hotels, I could finally meet my immediate family in South Mumbai while Siddharth was united with his mother in Jaipur. The feeling of being at home indeed remains unparalleled but the sweet memories of the warm hosts in Greece remains etched in my memory.

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