Tale of two cities in a pandemic

Tale of two cities in a pandemic

By Farah Irani and Rohit Kulkarni

Pune Cantonment sketch diary by Farah Irani

Dear Rohit,

The Usk talk by Simo Capecchi and her inspiring diary journaling collaboration with Amanda Roelle made me want to sketch my experiences too. Collaborating with you gave me a chance to take up her challenge “2 halves to a story” to chronicle a tale of two cities in India, Pune and Bengaluru and exchange individual experiences through our sketches during this pandemic lockdown.

Pune 4 May

The unsung heroes of the pandemic lockdown- Our essentials suppliers

Dear  Rohit,

Today I went out for our essential supplies armed with my sketchbook to record what I was seeing around me. Most shops have run out of stocks. I have never seen such a shopping frenzy as we have just finished a three day total lockdown with only milk and medical supplies allowed and now more such lockdowns were expected in the future.

Pune 5 May

Social Distancing goes for a toss

Dear Rohit,

It feels  like we are back to the cavemen days. We now only step out to forage for food. I got an opportunity to sketch as I waited for the lines to thin.The police walk around with Lathis (sturdy sticks used to whack, thwack and quell dissent) to enforce social distancing while the stores beg people to maintain 5 ft distance even while seeing to their needs.

Pune 6 May

Maximising a trip in the days of no petrol for the non essential sector

Dear Rohit,

Now going out for supplies is just an excuse, the lure is getting a chance to sketch. Strings tied to scooters are some ways the store owners are trying  to  maintain some social distancing in front of their  stores. Most people walk everywhere as petrol is  still not available to the common man. Those who use their  vehicles,  have to maximise each trip. A common sight was  scooterists with a mountain pile of shopping bags in front of them as pillion passengers too are still not allowed.

Pune 7 May

Locked in Containment zones in Pune Camp

Dear Rohit,

Petrol is now allowed from 7 am to 7 pm, but I chose to walk to get my supplies. To my surprise I found the access to various streets blocked with iron sheets. The irony was that now we could drive our vehicles but we could not reach the stores as Pune Camp had started creating containment zones overnight by blocking off streets from each other.

I observed people on their scooters  coming to a screeching halt in front of these blocks, stare hard at them in shock as if mentally willing them to move and then when that did not happen they would suddenly speed off to find a new route to the store.

Pune 7 May

New Supply chains

On my way back home, I got an opportunity to sketch this  veggie handcart in a little side lane. But when the police came the cart and all vanished into thin air in seconds. An absolute study in logistics!

Pune 8 May

Treasure Hunt

Dear Rohit,

Navigating lanes that have been blocked without warning or finding a store that is adequately stocked has turned getting essentials into a outright treasure hunt.The news of another total lockdown had us scurrying again but in the midst of it I also got one more sketch.

The import of the closed roads I had sketched yesterday hit me hard in the early hours of this morning when an ambulance could not reach on time to help Someone in need due to the maze of barricaded roads.

When I began sketching this project I thought I was just a observer but it was not long before I realised I was no longer a bystander but in the midst of this all.

Bengaluru sketch diary by Rohit Kulkarni

Dear Farah,

I am glad we are collaborating on this..

Bengaluru 7 May

Podcast Inspiration

Dear Farah,

As the lockdown continues, the uncertainty on the continuity of some things becomes stronger.. podcasts are turning out to be a nice way to relate to how a lot of others around the globe are experiencing the same.. there is some sense of relief when you find company through uncertain times.. one of the podcast host shared a quote by the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca “we suffer more in our imagination than in reality”.. left an impression.. and made me think that the quote is true when reality is normal.. in todays’ time do we find hope in our imagination.?

Bengaluru 8 May

The Mail

Dear Farah,

Today was full of small little packages that kept coming through.. the new society rules of not doorstep delivery meant that I had to go down couple of times to pick each one up from the main gate.. one such trip also included some research on the steep electricity bill as well..

Bengaluru 9 May

Out for essentials

Dear Farah,

Felt so special to go out and drive a little distance to a local hypermarket.. the road to this hypermarket is usually bustling with people and I can hardly go beyond 30kms/hr.. today was different.. not much on the streets and I could drive faster and I pulled the window down.. that simple joy of some wind gushing into your face was so special today..

Bengaluru 10 May

Mother’s Day

Dear Farah,

Had a super relaxing day.. the week before I went for a walk every single day and reaching a certain number everyday results in one episode of GOT in return.. This week I had 5 and so all of the wee hours today were spent treating self with some binge watching.. being a Chathurti, we got treated to sabudana wada for breakfast.. aambyacha-raas poli in afternoon and some idli sambar at night.. it was Mothers day but guess what – we got pampered by Mom instead 😀

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