Present times are testing times for everyone and journalists are no exception. They have to brave the coronavirus scare, go out, get stories, reach out to the authorities, talk to people, make field visits and cover spots if any during the lockdown. This is a story of a scribe who willingly came forward to help a Frenchman and was later asked to quarantine as the Frenchman tested positive for COVID-19.
Anantha Subramanyam, who works for the Bangalore Mirror in Bengaluru, was more than keen to help Jean Alain, a Frenchman who visited India on February 3 and had visited Delhi, Manali, Puttaparthi and Bengaluru.
1:— Anantha Subramanyam (@Ananthaforu) April 6, 2020
I would like to share my own experience on what it takes for us, journalists, to work under these extreme conditions. Photojournasists & Videojournalists in particular. How we become unsuspecting victims of circumstances, if not #Corona pic.twitter.com/ef2JmJ0OkP
Rendevous with a Frenchman
On the day of Janta Curfew, some people had gathered near the erstwhile Sangam Theatre in Bengaluru. They were passing comments at a foreigner standing at the spot and accusing him of carrying the coronavirus. Seeing this, Anantha approached the crowd and tried to figure things out.
Anantha found out that the foreigner could not communicate well in English and was really afraid of opening up. The scribe tried to talk to him and alerted some people. He eventually started telling about himself a little saying that he needs food and that he doesn't have a place to stay as everything was shut down due to the curfew.
Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials who were passing by tried understanding him and offered him some biscuits, fruits, and water. He asked for bananas as he could not eat the spicy food that was offered to him.
Because he must have had an unpleasant experience, he kept saying that he is an Indian and has come from Puttaparthi.
With the help of another correspondent, the DCP of that area was contacted and apprised of the situation. The DCP sent a police team to help the foreign national. The team ensured that he got a room in a lodge to stay. No home quarantine stamp was found on his hand and had no recent travel history.
However, another correspondent convinced Alain to furnish his travel details so that things could get moving in the right direction. He was sent to his room and the scribes sent across some bananas and cake along.
Anantha returned to his work and started covering things as the national lockdown was announced a few days later. He happened to meet Deputy Chief Minister near Majestic and he spoke to him regarding the inspection of the COVID-19 specialty ward at Victoria Hospital that was being readied on a war footing.
7:— Anantha Subramanyam (@Ananthaforu) April 6, 2020
I tagged along with DyCM and clicked the pics of the ward and the preparedness of the doctors and paramedics to handle the situation deftly as and when the demand arises. The entire Casualty wing was taken up to treat #Corona cases. As the inspection was on in every floor. pic.twitter.com/cWhxFjjuln
Twist in the story
He clicked the pictures of the ward and captured moments as people visited the ward with the Deputy CM to see how the preparations were going on. As Anantha was leaving the hospital, he saw an ambulance arrive. The ambulance had a COVID-19 positive patient. He was patient number 54 and as Anantha tried to get a glimpse of the patient; he realized that it was Alain, the Frenchman.
Anantha was trying to absorb the moment and thought that he met a number of people at work, at home and outside after he wrote the Frenchman story for Bangalore Mirror.
As he was preparing to quarantine himself; he received an advisory from the State Health Department for self-isolation. Though he tried making calls to people he had mingled with clearing it out that Anantha had no contact with the Frenchman and that there was nothing to worry. But coronavirus is such a scare that it did instill a fear somewhere.
What is it like to be in isolation?
The very next day, places that Anantha had visited were fumigated; he told his wife and his children on how to go about things. Anantha initially thought that how difficult can it be but it did turn out to be way more difficult than it looked. There were phone calls from people trying to enquire about his health. Many times it made him feel better but there were these frustrating and restless episodes too.
He did turn to movies, books, and writing and had sleeplessness and palpitations for the first week. Things eased and his symptoms subsided.
Anantha felt better and looked at life from a new angle. He wanted to get back to where he belonged; field. He was back after 15 days and was again clicking pictures and capturing moments.
17:— Anantha Subramanyam (@Ananthaforu) April 6, 2020
These friends kept my spirits high amidst negativity. Helped me pull through. Also thanks Health Dept officials DrSuresh Shastri & Dr Rajini. Here ends my thread. I cant write nail baiting stuff anymore. Bacuse that bad habit is gone & nails started growing again. Tq #Corona pic.twitter.com/as0MzO9hyK
Thanking his friends and his colleagues who stood by him during the thick and thins of the quarantine period, Anantha is now trying to find nail-biting stories and pictures for us.