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As virus engulfs India, diaspora watches with despair – Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia 2021-04-30 15:26:17 –

Los Angeles (AP) —Bad news that doesn’t know the time zone arrives in a jarring burst of messages, phone calls, and posts …

Los Angeles (AP) —The bad news of not knowing the time zone tells millions of members of India’s global diaspora that yet another loved one has been infected or lost with the coronavirus message, phone Arrives in a jarring burst of posts.

As with Mohini Gadré’s father, you may receive a large number of WhatsApp messages first thing in the morning, or you may arrive late at night. A mother in her eighties who tested positive in Mumbai on a 3:00 am phone call at her home in the San Francisco Bay Area was too weak to pray in the morning and started crazy scrambling, leaving her behind. I found that I found a hospital bed. day to day.

In the United States, where half of the adult population had at least one COVID-19 shot, the story was to resume, move forward, and heal. But for Indian-Americans, the daily crush of dark news from their homeland, Desh, clearly reminds us that the pandemic isn’t over yet.

“We see life starting to return to normal little by little, and you feel like spring, a little hope. You know things are improving. A year It’s been, “said 27-year-old Gadre. “In the meantime, I have this tinderbox that ignited in India.”

According to the census, more than 4.2 million people, such as Gadre, who make up India’s diaspora in the United States, were hit by the latest coronavirus surge, killing thousands and killing 200,000 a day. — Fourth highest in the world.

In a culture that generally does not distinguish between cousins ​​and siblings, biological aunts or close friends, the family is a family. Many Indian-Americans suffer from guilt out of more than a year of isolation as foreign relatives struggle to find vaccines, hospital beds, and fatefully their breath. ..

Like India itself, the diaspora is striated by religion, caste, class, native language, and other factors that continue to divide. But now many of its members are united with frustration and helplessness with little reliance. Last week, the State Department issued a “not travel” recommendation to India, citing COVID-19, and on Friday the Biden administration restricted travel from the country. It leaves some options for the family, except to arrange resources from a distance and persuade relatives to stay safe.

In the UK, home to about 1.4 million Indians, the government has added India to the country’s “Red List” and banned arrivals from India, excluding British citizens and residents. It adds to the feeling of isolation and helplessness for many who feel separated from their loved ones.

“There is little we can do at this point other than raising money, generously donating and praying,” said Yogesh Patel, a spokesman for one of Britain’s largest Hindu temples. “We can’t go to comfort family and friends. Everything is happening online.”

Exacerbating frustration is the struggle of many diaspora people to persuade Indian family and friends to follow basic social distance and masking protocols.

There are two problems, cultural. Certain generations mean that elders are less likely to listen to the advice of their children, grandchildren, or outsiders. And false information spreads widely through the same social channels that are essential for coordinating help and bridging gaps across the ocean.

“My father, he was everywhere, and I told him:” You must be at home, you must wear a mask, “but you I know, they haven’t heard, “said Uncle Chandra, 38, a New York-based consultant whose father is currently recovering from COVID-19, but in an apartment in Gurgram, the capital of India. I live alone.

When Sivaninas, a Manhattan-based hotel interior designer born and raised in New Delhi, expressed fear instead of a blessing in a photo of his family’s “Complete Five-Day Traditional Indian Hindu Wedding” , Made my relatives angry. I can see.

“My cousin was like,’Your Americans are very arrogant, looking at your country and more than 500,000 have died.’ And she actually told me. —She said, “Indians are like having herd immunity. We are born with herd immunity.”

Her cousin later apologized after several wedding attendees were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Vijaya Subrahmanyam, 58, usually travels to India every six months to meet her family, including her sister and her 91-year-old mother in Hyderabad, southern Telangana. Due to the pandemic, she did not return for nearly two years, and her summer visit plan was abandoned on the advice of her own mother.

The same week that the Atlanta-based university professor received her second vaccination, her mother and sister both tested positive for COVID-19. Her mother hadn’t left her house, but her sister took the medicine and then detoured to the mall for two minutes to buy a handbag, where Subrahmanyam said she was infected. I doubt.

“Initially, we were like,’What’s wrong with you?'” She said. However, Subrahmanyam realized that her sister was probably feeling worse about it than anyone else — and she realized she was still in India and was tasked with caring for her mother.

Some who also feel helpless are devoting energy to mutual aid projects.

23-year-old Anand Chaturvedi is from Mumbai but currently works in New York. He came from a technical background and volunteered to support the same websites he used himself, including open source sites that help search for virus-related resources.

In Seattle, 58-year-old Sanjay Jejurikar leverages his connections to help people from 75-year-old mentors to young employees of India-based education technology startups by becoming familiar with India. It is tied.

“In India, things are a little chaotic,” said Jejurikar, whose mother died of COVID-19 in India in July. “That is, on the one hand, they are very bureaucratic and rule-based, all of which is good. But on the other hand, the lack of support leaves a significant number of people on their devices. “

After losing her grandmother at COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic, Texas graduate student Farheen Ali, 23, returned to Hyderabad in August to help her parents.

Having experienced pandemic peaks and Ramadan in different countries, Ali believes that one of the biggest differences is the confidence that “it won’t get too bad, or the system won’t get worse” in the United States. She also believes. If she had stayed in Texas, she would have been vaccinated at this point.

She doesn’t necessarily regret coming to India, but the embers of hope are extinguishing. I don’t want to be vaccinated because of stupid WhatsApp messages, or even though people are dying at this rate, I still don’t believe Corona is a problem. “

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London’s Associated Press staff writer Sylvia Hui contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written, or redistributed.

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