My New York trip in 2019 and the pandemic in 2020.

It’s been close to 4 months now since Covid-19 exploded all around the world. I first heard of the virus infecting people in China sometime before Chinese New Year, back in January. But just a few months before that in 2019, my family just went on a trip to Iceland in October, Morocco with my friends in May and New York with my family in the March/April period.

2019 was without doubt the most exciting time for me, as I planned so many travel itineraries and went to so many places, clearing almost all my leave days that I brought forward from 2018 and exhausted the rest for 2019.

And it was totally justified. I completed my Masters Degree in December 2018, attended the convocation ceremony in the middle of 2019. So naturally, after all that studying and working at the same time, I just wanted to let off some steam. And I let off a lot of steam.

New York City was one of the most memorable cities I have ever been to. It was my dream destination to experience life in the Big Apple. It may sound cliche, but there is a level of energy and vibrancy that the city has that I find intoxicating. It is also one of travel destinations where I will probably not get bored no matter how many times I visit the place for my holidays. There is always something to do, something to see all year around. There is basically something for everybody in the city.

Now, fast forward 2020, a mere one year later, New York City is in the midst of a pandemic. Streets are empty, the whole city is in lockdown. Hospitals are overwhelmed and people are dying every day because of Covid-19. Seeing the pictures of empty streets just breaks my heart. This was not the New York I remembered. The New York I remembered was full of energy, full of people from all walks of life, making a living, building a better tomorrow, giving the city its identity. The virus wipes them all out. Like a bleached coral. White, lifeless, just a shell.

I have been following the news coverage on the pandemic and to see the world change in a span of less than a year, is just heartbreaking. Before the pandemic, life was normal, business was running as usual. There was a sense of global optimism that everything is doing great and will continue to do great into the new year, 2020. I think the world had such high hopes that 2020 will be an overall prosperous year. 2020, full of hopes, a wonderful year to be alive. 20 years into the new century, into the new millennia and it seemed nothing will go wrong, just forging ahead, fulfilling dreams, hopes and aspirations.

Then it all came crashing down. Not just for a select group of people, but for everyone around the world. Everyone is no doubt suffering in their own little way, made worse by the mandatory social isolation measures to keep the spread of the virus at more manageable levels. Friends separated, families torn apart, life’s little pleasures upended in the midst of a pandemic.

On the flip side, one has to remind ourselves that are all fighting in our own little ways to keep the virus at bay. The social distancing, the essential workers, the frontline medical workers. Everyone in fact. And we must keep fighting. It is unpleasant, people are suffering, but we must not let up on the fight against Covid-19.

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