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When the virus spreads to India, the Diaspora looks on in despair

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The bad news, unaware of the time zones, comes with a flurry of messages, calls and messages informing millions of Indian Diaspora members that another loved one has fallen ill or is missing from the coronavirus.

Sometimes it comes first on WhatsApp messages in the morning,, sometimes it lands in the middle of the night, as it did for Mohini Gadre’s father. On March 3, at his home in San Francisco Bay, he was told that his octogenarian mother, who had a positive outcome in Mumbai, was too weak to say her morning prayers, starting a crazy mess to find her in the hospital bed where she was staying. days

In the United States, where half the adult population received at least one COVID-19 shot, there was talk of reopening, moving forward, and recovering. But for Indian Americans, the dark news coming from the homeland every day sharply reminds them that the epidemic is not over.

“We see that life is slowly starting to return to normal, you feel like a little hope, like spring. “You know everything is improving, a year has passed,” said Gadre, 27. “And at the same time, this box broke out in India.”

According to the census, more than 4.2 million people like Gadre, according to the census, watched in horror as the last wave of the coronavirus burned in India, killing thousands every day, catapulting the death toll to more than 200,000 – the fourth highest rate in the world.

In a culture that basically does not differentiate between a cousin, a sister or a sister, a biological aunt or a close friend, the family is a family. Many Native Americans have been blamed for over a year in solitary confinement as relatives living abroad struggling with vaccines, hospital beds, and fatally finding their breath.

Like India, the Diaspora is fragmented by religion, caste, class, mother tongue, and other factors that continue to divide. But now many of its members are united in frustration and helplessness. Last week, the State Department provided “do not travel” advice to India, citing COVID-19, and on Friday the Biden administration restricted travel from the country. It leaves families with several options, in addition to trying to organize resources remotely, to persuade relatives to stay safe.

In the United Kingdom, home to about 1.4 million Indians, the government has added India to its “red list” of countries, banning all arrivals from India except UK citizens. It adds to the feeling of isolation and helplessness for many who feel disconnected from loved ones.

“Apart from raising funds, donating generously, and praying, there is not much we can do right now,” said Jogesh Patel, spokesman for one of Britain’s largest Hindu temples. “We can not go և to comfort family, friends, everything happens online.”

More about the COVID-19 epidemic

Disappointment complicates the struggle of many in the Diaspora to persuade family and friends in India to adhere to basic protocols of social distance and disguise.

The problem is twofold և cultural. A certain generational hierarchy means that elders are not inclined to heed the counsel of their children, grandchildren, or outsiders. And misinformation is spreading through the same social channels that can coordinate aid to bridge the gap between the oceans.

“My father, he was everywhere,: I told him, ‘You have to stay home, you have to wear masks,’ but you know they do not listen,” said Ankur Chandra. A 38-year-old New York City counselor whose father is currently recovering from COVID-19 in a lonely apartment in Gurugram, India’s national capital.

New Delhi-born և Manhattan-based hotel interior designer Shivani Knut offended relatives when he expressed horror instead of congratulating the family on pictures of a “complete five-day, traditional Indian Hindu wedding.” There are no masks. insight.

“My cousin was like, ‘You Americans are so arrogant, you look at your country, you have more than 500,000 people who have died.’ And he actually told me. He is like. “Indians have herd immunity. “We are born with herd immunity,” said Nat.

Her cousin later apologized because several wedding participants were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Vijaya Subrahmanyam, 58, usually travels to India every six months to visit her family, including her older sister որը 91-year-old mother in Hyderabad, southern Telangana. He has not returned for almost two years due to the epidemic, and his summer visit plans have been canceled due to his own mother’s advice.

The same week that an Atlanta college professor received his second dose of the vaccine, his mother and sister both tested positive for COVID-19. The mother did not leave her house, but the sister went to the mall for two minutes to get a handbag after taking medicine, where Subrahmanyam suspects that she is infected.

“At first we were like, ‘What happened to you?'” He said. But Subrahmanyam realized that her sister was probably feeling worse than anyone, and realized that she was the one who was still in India to care for their mother.

Some of those who feel helpless direct their energy to mutual aid programs.

Anand Chaturvedi, 23, is from Mumbai but now works in New York. Coming from a technology background, he volunteered to help the same sites he used, including an open source site that helps search for virus-related resources.

In Seattle, 58-year-old Sanjay Jezurikar uses her connections, her acquaintance with India to help people from 75-year-old mentors to young Indian-based young educators.

“Everything is a bit messy in India, isn’t it?” said Jjurikar, whose mother died of COVID-19 in July in India. “I mean, on the one hand, they are very bureaucratic, they are based on rules, all that is good. But on the other hand, quite a few people are left with their hands, as if they have no support. ”

After losing his grandmother to COVID-19 at the start of the epidemic, 23-year-old Farhin Ali, a Texas State Library student, returned to Hyderabad in August to help his parents.

Having lived through the epidemic of Ramadan in every country, Ali believes that one of the biggest differences is the confidence he had in the United States that “it will not be so bad or the system will not be broken so badly.” He thinks he would have been vaccinated if he had stayed in Texas.

Although he does not necessarily regret coming to India, the darkers of hope are fading. “I do not think there is any confidence in the government or the public that they will try to overthrow it, because I still know people who do not want to be vaccinated because of stupid WhatsApp messages or do not believe that the crown is still something, even though people are dying. at this rate. “

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The Associated Press’s London-based writer Sylvia Hoon contributed to this report.

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