Ejo #124 – My Diary: Quarantine (Part 1)

On the last day of our trip to Japan, our HR department got in touch and instructed us to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival in Dubai. To be honest, at the time it felt like a wee bit of an over-reaction, but you will never catch me complaining about a freebie fortnight off work. I now know that the UAE government was being proactive and taking necessary precautionary measures. I started writing this diary, before the world went into lockdown. Self-isolating at home was an anomaly, and not the current norm.  We were the only ones I knew that were quarantining, and I thought it might be a little bit of novelty for you all to read about our experience. Now almost everyone is stuck at home, and you all have your own stories to tell. Here’s mine, anyway.

DAY ONE
Coming back from Tokyo was weird. We were in business class for the long-haul flight (frequent flyer miles, yo!), and the entire upper deck of the A380 was virtually empty. There were just five passengers and almost double that number of crew. Which was a relief because I’d been a little worried about flying home in a jam-packed sardine can. Don’t even get me started on the number of times I’ve contracted a flu or a cold or a sniffle or a cough after flying. Some bitches just do not know how to cover their goddamn mouths when they sneeze. It felt like the five of us were seated far enough apart from one another to not have to worry about cross-infection. However, in retrospect, getting drunk at the bar and hugging some rando stranger may not have been the smartest choice in the world. Live and learn.

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Tumbleweeds

We landed in Dubai at 6am and were in bed an hour later. We got up at around midday, and easily oozed into full-sloth mode. We ordered chicken wings for lunch and spent the rest of the day watching Netflix, systematically destroying a 1.8 litre bottle of sake and popping the M&Ms we’d nicked from the aeroplane. We are not intending on continuing this way, but it feels right for the first day back. Zero effort; just ease on into it. No-one’s handing out awards for pandemic over-achievers. Actually, maybe they are. But we are definitely not in the running.

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Kampai!!!

DAY TWO
Oh my god, I had such a good night’s sleep. I actually woke up feeling rested, which is so unusual for me. I’m normally either fatigued from shift work, or burning the candle at both ends while travelling. So I felt great. I figured I should use my new-found energy to unpack my suitcase, as well as all the records and all the booze we bought in Japan. So many records; so much booze!! Actually, it feels a bit weird to be drinking, when technically I should be working. But I’m not actually sick, and I’m not actually skiving off work (though it does feel a little bit like I am). I almost feel guilty indulging in a tipple (or two), but you can bet that’s not going to stop me.

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Ugh, I hate unpacking.

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Adding to the collection.

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Delightful, limited edition Japanese liqueurs (as well as some sake and the fixin’s for our signature cocktail – the Aviation).

Today, I also finally got around to watering all our babies ( I would make a terrible mother). Our poor houseplants have been without water for 17 days and are looking a little… shall we say, dehydrated. The highlight of today, for me, was a small (but glorious) bounty of four little red cherry tomatoes. Look how beautiful they are!!!  These are especially important to me because they are my Mum’s heirloom tomatoes. I am grateful, beyond belief, that I now have her seeds to plant again next season.

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Baby tommies!!!!  I’m in love!!!

DAY THREE
Today, we left the house. It felt weird, like we were committing some nefarious crime. Or venturing into a zombie apocalypse. But we weighed up the risks, and decided that it would be better for us to go out and do one big shop (that will hopefully last us the remainder of our quarantine) rather than continue to eat takeaway food and get home delivery. Also, we were out of wine. So…

Seems that most of Dubai is pretty relaxed about COVID-19, I guess because there haven’t been that many cases here, so everyone is just carrying on as normal. The supermarket didn’t have my preferred brand of toilet paper (tragedy!), but it was still fully stocked. No panic buying here. Not yet anyway.

DAY FOUR
Today I woke up with a mild feeling of dread that I haven’t been able to shake. I’m seriously enjoying not working (hello early retirement?!), but there’s a lot of heaviness hanging in the air and I guess it’s taking a mental toll. I also woke up with a horrible rash on the back of my hands from the incessant handwashing. FML.

Today was the first day that we decided to get off our butts and be productive members of the household. Working together as a team (me measuring and marking, David drilling) we hung two large artworks on the wall, and two macramé potplants from the ceiling. I’ve gotta say, so far, being house-bound kinda rules. Shit = getting done!

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Measure twice, drill once (argue fifteen times).

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Plant more coconuts.  Excellent advice.

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About time this beauty took his rightful place on the wall.

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Ivy loves her new, sun-drenched perch.

I also managed to find the time to give my ficus elastica (his name is Peter, say hello everyone) a shower. He absolutely loved it. And continuing on with the plant care, I made one last ditch effort to save Lillian (my peace lily – get it?) from the brink of death. I repotted and trimmed her down to the bone. I think it’s going to be touch and go there for a while, so… thoughts and prayers please.

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Splish splash.

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Lillian doesn’t look so good.

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Short back and sides.

PS We’ve started playing records.  Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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The Stooges

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Progressive krautrock band, Can

DAY FIVE
Today started off with a pretty nasty hangover and, after a short spurt of activity (sweeping and mopping the balcony), mutated into yet another lazy day. Lots of lounging around and drinking coffee (and Berocca).  I started reading a new book, chilled out on the balcony, played Tetris on my Nintendo Game Boy (31 years old and going strong!) and listened to more records.

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A little bit of light reading, entertainment (and hair o’ the dog).

David is a bit bored, but I’m absolutely loving it. I could one hundred percent (no problem whatsoever) get used to this. No appointments, no responsibilities, no parties, no dinner dates, nowhere to be in the morning, no work concerns. I’m at home with my best buddy, surrounded by a beautiful lush forest of houseplants, listening to awesome music with the doors flung open, enjoying the beautiful weather before Dubai turns into a fiery summer inferno. This is my idea of bliss, people. I feel like I’ve been preparing for isolation for the last 11 years of my life and I’m enjoying the hell out of it.

We were intending to cook dinner tonight, but just couldn’t overcome the inertia of the day so we ordered Indian takeaway from across the street. Tomorrow we’ll be better. Promise.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Kishi Bashi

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John Grant

DAY SIX
Today we got busy. The house got cleaned, but good. We stripped the beds, dusted every surface, vacuumed, tidied, swept, sorted, mopped, scrubbed, made the beds and then proudly patted ourselves on the back (and rewarded ourselves with a glass of rosé). Of course we always clean up after ourselves, but I’ve got no qualms admitting that we usually get someone in about twice a month to do the real dirty work for us. This time, we did our own dirty work and while I found the result very rewarding, let’s just say I’mma be tipping my cleaner a helluva lot more from now on.

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A hard earned thirst deserves a nicely chilled rosé.

Hey, so we cooked today. We threw together a very delicious chili con carne, garnished with crushed blue corn chips, diced avocado, coriander and sour cream. No reason to starve, just because the apocalypse is nigh. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we’re binge-watching Ozark on Netflix. You’re welcome.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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The Fall

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Spiritualized

DAY SEVEN
Once again, I woke up feeling kind of flat. I was a bit short with David this morning, and when he asked me why, I snapped, “Because my Mum is dead”. To be honest, I hadn’t consciously realised it was weighing on me until it burst out. But you know what? It’s OK. It makes sense. It’s been almost a year since my Mum unexpectedly died, and it’s only natural that the imminent anniversary of that day will have some kind of negative impact on my state of mind. Particularly now, stuck at home with not much else to do except ponder these things.

Even though I had all sorts of plans for getting shit done around the house today, I tried to be gentle with myself for not having the motivation or energy to get much shit done around the house at all. I gave myself permission to just watch some TV, stare out the window (a lot), sit outside in the fresh air, listen to music and just chill. What else is there to do anyway?

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought you by…..

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Tricky

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Lil Louis & The World

DAY EIGHT
We got up early today to go for a walk before the crowds hit the park. It was really serene and peaceful and so good for my state of mind to be out of the house, and also to exercise. I have to say though, the number of folks who have no idea about personal space – fuck me guys, are you even aware that there’s a viral contagion sweeping the globe right now? A little bit of space, please.

The rest of the day was, I hate to say it, a bit of a bust. I had such good intentions to do stuff. But alas, not a whole lotta stuff got done (there’s a theme emerging here I think). So, let me tell you about this coffee table I had big plans for. It’s been sitting on our balcony for a while. Backstory: I started sanding it in late 2016 with the intention of staining and reviving it and making it a beautiful centerpiece for our living room. Did I mention it’s been sitting on our balcony for three years? Anyway, I went out there today, armed with some 100-grit sandpaper, a brush and a can of cherrywood stain only to discover that the table was beyond salvation. Bummer.

Even though not much happened, today wasn’t a total bust. We did have a nap between 2pm and 3pm. Thank you, I will take a bow. Look, you’ve gotta take the wins with the losses. Also, guess what, I made sauerkraut!! Yes, I did. I’ve made kimchi before, but this is my first shot at sauerkraut and I’m very excited for it to work out. Keep your fingers crossed for me. We’ll find out in ten days. Oh, and we had nachos for dinner. Yes, I am going to be very fat when this is all over. I reluctantly accept that.

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Yum!  And good for you.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Björk

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(Early) Foo Fighters

DAY NINE
We intended to go for another walk today but when we woke up it was raining pretty heavily and thunder was clapping pretty loudly, so we just stayed in bed a bit longer. Good story, right? Sorry guys, but this is what it’s come to. This is quarantine life. Headline: NOT MUCH GOING ON. The highlight of my day was finally getting around to making some hot sauce using the dried chillies from my Mum’s garden that I’ve been holding onto for a year. Not sure if you know this about me but I am a hot sauce afficionado. A hot sauce connoisseur, if you will. AKA Hot Sauce Freak. I fucking love my hot sauce.

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A few of my favourite things.

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My Mum’s dried chillies.  Potent.

The last time I saw my Mum she slipped some of her homemade hot sauce into my suitcase, which I discovered when we got to Dubai. It was amazing, one of the best goddamn sauces I’ve ever tasted (and I’ve tasted a lot). And I’d been meaning to ask her for the recipe. I was literally leading up to it, days before she died. Look, in the ultimate scheme of things, the loss of a recipe doesn’t really scratch the surface of everything else that I lost when my Mum passed away. But it’s something that just hasn’t stopped bugging me. My sisters and I went through every single one of Mum’s handwritten recipes last year, but sadly we never found her hot sauce potion. Today, I just bit the bullet and searched the internet for the simplest, easiest recipe made with dried chillies, and I am so excited to tell you that the result tastes pretty fucking good. I’m going to give it a few weeks to really infuse with all the flavours but I’m very hopeful that the result will be something that at least approximates my Mum’s sauce. That would make me so very happy. That would make today a very good day, indeed.

PS Today’s soundtrack was brought to you by…..

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Blondie

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M83

TO BE CONTINUED…

4 comments

  1. Great read so far! Very enjoyable. 😍👌Cheers,Mel————-Dr Melinda Norris Mobile: 0417104843Melbourne, Australia 

    1. Ha, thanks! My husband read it and said, “Oh my god, we sound so lazy!!!!”. It’s all relative, right? x

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