Life and times during a pandemic quarantine

Subhash Mathur

Subhash Mathur was born and brought up in small towns in Rajasthan. During his school and college education at Jaipur, he was keenly involved in sports, journalism and public speaking. His civil services career has given him a platform for spreading his ideas about modernising tax administration to benefit the common man. Post retirement he is devoting his energies, along with his wife Tilak, to public and humane causes.

A family discusses how individual members are coping with the self-quarantine period imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Satish Mathur, retired civil servant.

Satish Mathur

Playing online bridge and lose to computer ji often.

Thinking, “Hoarding whatever is available, so people have more toilet paper than food — you know what that means!” 😜

Watching the Hindi movie Rustom (2016) on Netflix and wondering how was murder-accused Commander Pavri allowed to wear his naval uniform in lock-up and court?

Anticipating a scientific discovery — how will the 5 pm clanging of utensils, led by one misogynist and apparently endorsed by another, ensure death of the coronavirus by 31st March?!

Doing a little bit of exercise as my right hip is in great pain periodically.

Organizing meals for cops on duty. Coordinating with restaurants through owner of The Bohri Kitchen, Worli, Mumbai. (He is an MBA from NMIMS so I periodically teach him what they didn’t teach him at NMIMS!)

Manjula Mathur, former civil servant and bird enthusiast

Manjula Mathur

The birds are reveling in the peace and quietude!


Rakshat Hooja, entrepreneur

Rakshat and Bruno

I am loving it.

Locked out of my own office. All visiting student work suspended for the year, maybe even till spring next year. No movement in cars since mid February. Stock markets at near all-time lows.

Instead of acting like it, I am officially unemployed and broke.

The dogs don't care. But the air is fresh when I walk them. No ambient traffic noise. No maids creating noise in the house. So wonderful.

So many wonderful and creative forwards on WhatsApp, including a full collection of Chacha Chaudhury and Tinkle comics!

And Good food. What more can one ask for in life. At a time when they say the world might never be the same, I am loving it (till now).

Neha Mathur, multinational executive

Neha Mathur

I returned from travel abroad on 16th morning. I filled out a form on landing with my name and address. My colleague, who was on the same flight and also lives in my apartment building, did the same. Then we went home.

My company asked me to self-isolate at home. It even offered to send home desktops / tables / chairs and also reimburse my WiFi costs — whatever I need to work from home!
All meetings are held online through Cisco WebEx. So now I am living WebEx to WebEx.

Suddenly my life changed. A poster got pasted outside my building with my name, address and the duration for my quarantine period.

Quarantine notice on the wall

Quarantine notices pasted on the wall.

I had ₹2000 with me and since this was a 21-day lock-down, with things becoming more arbitrary with citizens and housing societies imposing their own rules, I wanted to get some cash. I stepped out to go to the ATM.

When I returned, people went crazy and came running after me. I didn’t even know about the notice because I hadn’t stepped out since I landed. They started arguing with me downstairs and wanted to report me to the authorities.

I told them to check their CCTV cameras to verify I hadn’t stepped out till now. That’s when guards calmed down and allowed me to go back home. One guy told the building security to make a note of my name and flat number and remember my face!

Now the notice is pasted outside my door. The guards came and explained that I am not to step out at all. If I want something then I have to call them and they shall either do it for me or escort me. Else they shall call the helpline and report me!

Guess what? The ATM didn’t even have money. That’s the saddest part. All this fight and no money. But I have my credit card. And now stuff is delivered to the door.

The authorities have extended my quarantine till 13th April. It feels like a post-apocalyptic world.

Will retirement also feel like this? With no distinction between day and night, weekday and weekend?


Ashok Mathur, senior citizen and tinkerer

When I heard that ventilators needed to treat coronavirus patients are in short supply, I came up with an idea to double the capacity of each ventilator that is already available. This would allow two patients to use the same ventilator instead of just one. I emailed my idea to a friend of mine, who tried it out at a local hospital, and it worked.

Ventilator with doubled capacity

Ventilator with doubled capacity


I also watched with delight when an outdoor sculpture that I had created last year was commandeered by a hummingbird couple as a nesting site this spring.

Hummingbird nest with mother feeding chick

Hummingbird nest with mother feeding chick


Pamela Mathur, home maker

The quarantine gives us pause to look around and appreciate the wonders of nature. From our window, we can see spring transforming our landscape.

A blue jacaranda tree by the side of the road.

A blue jacaranda tree by the side of the road. (Also known as neela gumohar or Jacaranda mimosifolia.)

A tiny bee at the centre of a cluster of roses.

A tiny bee at the centre of a cluster of roses.

A trumpet-creeper with flowers that vary in shade from white to violet.

A trumpet-creeper with flowers that vary in shade from white to violet. (Also known as Parul ki bel or Mansoa alliacea.)


Subodh Mathur, adjunct professor of economics at John Hopkins University SAIS

Subodh Mathur

The coronavirus has turned many aspects of our lives upside down in Bethesda, Maryland.

We have not met anyone for many days. No one has come to our home, and we have not gone into anyone’s home. I have not even gone to a store in many days. I do go out for walks with my wife. My son and daughter live in other cities. My wife’s brother live 5 minutes away by car - but no visits.

So, like everyone else, we are socially isolated. It’s boring, boring, boring. But the internet keeps us connected.

There’s always the temptation to watch cable TV non-stop coverage and discussion. But, after some time, it’s clear that it is all just talk, talk, talk, and more talk. There’s no news. The virus is still out of control. No one has any date when life can return to some form of normal.Things are probably going to get worse for some more days. The government will come up with an economic plan. No one can say that it will help poor people.

So, we binge-watch streaming TV shows on Netflix and other services every night from 10 pm or so for 3 hours. (I don’t watch any TV before that - no news, no sports, no politics, nothing - except once in a rare while.)

I keep working on my book. All the information I need is now on the Internet. So, there are no excuses – keep working!

I also answer question on Quora. I post daily on LinkedIn, nothing new about this.

We go for a walk every day. There’s hardly anyone on the roads in our area. The walking trails are a bit more crowded. But, social distancing is still doable. The weather is OK, and there are Spring flowers everywhere. Nice. Pleasant.

I am a pretty serious gardener but it’s a bit too cold to work on it yet. But, I will, as always, begin working on it in early April.

The biggest loss for us was that we had to miss my daughter’s wedding in New York City. It was supposed to be a court wedding on March 27 with a reception in a bar that night, and dinner at our home in early May. All plans cancelled - they just went to court and got married on March 17. It was more a legal formality but still, not good to miss it.

Shweta didn’t like the fact that there were no celebrations. So, she connected all of us by Zoom in three cities in India and two cities in the US. Virtual celebration. Great fun.
That’s how our lives have now become – virtual. The Internet and phone are now vital to our well-being. With them, we can stay in touch with everyone. All meetings are now virtual – that’s the new reality.

Once in a while, we do need to buy some supplies. Some things are not available at all – including our usual dishwasher soap. Other things come and go. So, it's all hit and miss. But, not a big worry as we do have enough of some things - we will survive.

No, we will thrive.

Editor's note: Subodh Mathur's book is a work-in-progress and he would dearly like all of us to give him feedback as he posts the draft of each chapter online. The book is titled Core Economics. It's economics for non-economists, written in plain, jargon free language. See the first chapter on Linkedin and please respond with your comments.

Editor's Note

This story is part of our series on the coronavirus pandemic of 2019-2020. Here is the complete series so far. Readers are welcome to keep contributing!


I have been in Lockdown for a long time even before it became official, so it is no hardship for me. I spend my tome by reading and writing. The programmes on TV are depressing since these are full of Coronavirus. My heart goes for those who are ill and those who have died, also for their families, but great admiration for the staff at the hospitals in looking after the patients, risking their own lives.

Thanks for posting this. It's a bit similar in Australia. But our restrictions are not quite as firm and started a bit later. We do not know yet where it will all go. Restrictions in Victoria will now continue into May. Stay safe and healthy.

thanks Bob . happy to brief us about the Aussie experience .

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