Thursday, September 21, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 5, 1445 H
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The diary and thoughts of a Covid-aware expatriate


I’ve been in lockdown for three weeks today, since my wife and I waved our daughter goodbye at Muscat International Airport. We never knew then what tomorrow, next week, or next month, let alone next year, would bring us. I couldn’t give her a hug and share with her all I wanted to say, because what could I say? Sasha and Christian, her partner, are both nurses, and now I understand how earlier generations felt when they sent their precious ones off to war… I don’t want to be emotional, but it doesn’t let go…

Worse, we don’t have a timetable for this, or its effects upon us, to finish, and in this era of science, understanding nature and technological advances, that’s just not good enough! My brutal thoughts on the scientific sector are that “Unless what you are doing has relevance to mankind’s living experience, you are contributing to its dying experience!” I may be wrong, but between scientists and politicians, who cannot agree which way is up.

In matters concerning COVID-19, I’m subservient, I guess, in our house, as Lena has embraced the role of a frontline adversary for the pandemic. Lena is the staunch protector. It is she who dons her gloves and mask once a week and does a pharmacy, flour and milk,  fresh fruit and veg run, and woe betide anyone who intrudes upon her social distancing protocols or etiquette. She is an absolute star, and nothing purchased from outside gets inside the house without going through her ‘Dettol’ disinfection protocols at the door.

She is amazing! And why is Lena doing those tasks. Because she wants to protect me. She is significantly younger than I, and figures that she is therefore at a lesser risk of infection and has carried her awareness and COVID-19 resistance through in everything, to keep us both safe, or at least as safe as we can in terms of protecting ourselves from others, and others from us. Nobody will be able to blame the Petersens, if they get it!

I have always thought I had high standards of personal hygiene, but I will probably now, for the remainder of my life, take 20 seconds to wash my hands. I will also probably also continue to disinfect my bath, continue to use germicidal hair shampoo and shave everyday. I just wish I could get a haircut!

I’ve been working from home since very early in the piece, as I must pay the bills, and I decided early on that I would be working everyday to ensure that I kept up with my responsibilities. I’m not sure that everyone has the same ethos! At the same time, I feel strongly for my colleagues and students having to make a rude transition to e-learning. It’s a complex dynamic that doesn’t just happen because someone says so as there is much more to it.

I watch very little TV but do keep an eye on Facebook as that’s our primary means of communication, along with WhatsApp, with family and friends. We have discovered OSN streaming, OSN streaming Plus, and Netflix has been good as a diversion… and yes, I can understand how couch potato-ism can occur, but so far I’m resisting. We’ve discovered video-calling so have been able to also touch base with distant family and friends, and I had a conference call with my mates, in our ‘Lonesome Blues’ chatroom the other night, and that was fun.

I was concerned that, being housebound, I/we may put on weight, but it’s not been too bad for a couple of reasons. Lena provides a tasty, different breakfast each day, we have a little soup for lunch, and smaller boutique fare in the evenings with meals from all around the world. We eat very little junk food… Lena insists upon healthy options… and I do love my chocolate! The only ‘naughty’ thing is that we have rediscovered our bread-maker, and Lena’s breads are superb.

Speaking of bills, the upside is that we are spending very little, as we are going nowhere. Also, we are missing our regular fishing trips. Hopefully our favourite fishing spots are re-populating in our absence, and we will get some good catches upon the lifting of travel restrictions. Also, we have a walking path around the house, inside the fence. I turn on my music and do a 2-3-4 kms walk each day, keeping the weight wolf from the door.

We do consider ourselves fortunate to be living in Oman, where the authorities may not have been aware of the gravity of COVID-19 originally, as those who knew ‘kept schtum,’ but they have responded very decisively and it seems, effectively. If the populace embraces the precautions and practices the Supreme Committee communicate, Inshallah, we will get through this, relatively unscathed.

But for now, it’s just Lena and I, and our new fostered cat Persy. Isolated, in our bubble, but healthy and well. Please, if you can, stay at home, stay healthy, stay COVID-free. And a big shout out for the healthcare professionals, police, forces and essential industry workers everywhere. Thank you so much!


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