Quarantined in Cairo

This is our third week into quarantine.

After the decision made by the Egyptian government during the first week  of March, to close all schools and nurseries for at least two weeks, that were later extended into a month, I’ve pretty much stayed home with my son.

We moved quite swiftly into distance teaching via our online teaching platforms and it was definitely some work figuring out how we’d practically execute that and then getting parents and students engaged online. But by the third week, which is now, pretty much everyone’s on board, thank God.

Has this transition been smooth? Anything but.

Suddenly pulling my son from nursery and trying to adapt to a new routine of working from home with similar, if not longer, hours due to the technical difficulties we often face, has been and still is, a roller coaster.

For the first few days, Yunus had no idea what was going on and he’d wake up in the morning, want to get dressed and stand with his shoes by the door. It was a heartbreaking moment to convince him that we’d not be going “baya” (his version of bye-bye).

Eventually he gave in and would find other sources of amusement, including making the efforts of understanding how a laptop works and pondering over which walls needed a redo with markers. All the while, I’d be trying to upload material, video lessons and so forth for the 3 subjects that I teach. Uploading the videos was the hardest: they needed always clipping for when Yunus decided to interfere and correct any “false” scientific statements I was making about the causes for changes in our ecosystem. We reached some nerve wrecking moments on some days for sure.

By the third (this) week, work-wise, things have started to settle and I’ve found some ways to keep him entertained for the couple of intensive morning hours I need to finish the biggest bulk of work in. The rest I finish intermittently throughout the day while preparing snacks, changing clothes, bathing or building blocks.

However, the mental load is huge. We’re not going through some passing weather condition that has forced us to stay home and we’re definitely not on a staycation: we’re going through a pandemic.

Trying to cope work, home, kids and the constant state of worry has taken its toll on everyone, I’m sure.

The thing about being quarantined in Egypt is that you’re literally stuck home. Like literally.

No walks in an empty park when everything gets too much at home. No quick jogs in the woods to clear your head. Even though the government has imposed a 7 pm to 6 am curfew, it feels like EVERYONE is outside during daytime. If you fear for yourself, you can’t really go anywhere, not even grocery shopping. Maybe in Europe they can observe the 1 meter safety distance, but here, everywhere is PACKED. No matter what you do, there’s going to be someone right at your face.

So, we stay home.

It’s just me and my four walls.

Enter: toddler with an excessive amount of energy.

Yeah, you can imagine the rest.

Another lovely, absolutely delightful thing about staying home in Cairo during a pandemic is that, naturally, after the 7 pm curfew starts, the entire city is at home.

I had no idea how well the sound of traffic underneath my building covered the noise the neighbors were making. Right, the decibel levels were surely higher than the normal range then, but it sure seems better than kids screaming and fighting at 11 pm, TVs blasting Arabic programs at 1 am and someone insisting on running on a treadmill right above my bedroom just when I’d decided to go to sleep.

I feel like pretty soon I’m going to go stand in the balcony, Italy-style, but instead of singing I’ll be screaming like a mad woman. 

All the how-to posts on being productive/energetic/using your time wisely while in isolation are only making me feel more desperate than ever. So basically I SHOULD be getting all these things done while the only word I can think of right now is “survive”?

I’m still figuring out how to deal with this new palette of emotions introduced by this isolation and I’m sure lots of others are too.

All I can do right now is to try to process my emotions and take a day by day. I’ve admittedly resorted to some chaotic/desperate thinking, but I’m trying, trying so hard, to focus on what’s in front of me right now, and not what tomorrow brings.

Stay Home, but Stay Sane.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Rooni says:

    Super like. You painted the emotional and physical experience so well! My twopence: try meditation ❤


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