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Travel Experience from Chennai to Kerala during Coronavirus Lockdown | This Too Shall Pass

After being stranded for a couple of months in Chennai tirelessly looking for a way out, I was beyond ecstatic to travel back to my native when the government finally relaxed interstate movement of people during Coronavirus lockdown.

Having both our Tamil Nadu and Kerala travel passes approved, we commenced our journey to Kerala at 06:30 AM on 08th May from Chennai. Except to dump garbage bags and to carry water can once in a week, this was the first time in two months I actually came out. The two of us travelled in a 7 seater taxi maintaining proper distance both between ourselves and with the driver. 

ALSO READ: My Lockdown Life Experience in Chennai

The journey ahead is risky and requires utmost precaution. I carried 2-3 sanitiser bottles in my pocket, worn mask, gloves, jeans, and shoes. I was in a full sleeve sweat shirt and a jacket over it. Furthermore, I tied a band around my forehead to prevent hair from falling onto my face thus forcing me to touch my face frequently. Everything other than my eyes was covered. I also carried a couple of masks and gloves in addition to the one I’m wearing. 

Before and after getting into the taxi, I sanitised door handles and other areas that I’m likely to have contact during travel using a tissue. 

If all your passes are clear, you can travel without any unnecessary complications during this coronavirus lockdown. Tamil Nadu Police officers were polite. After verifying our TN pass and the number of travellers, they allowed us to proceed journey forward.

Apart from checking and verifying TN pass, there is thermal scanning three times at different places before reaching Walayar. This is time consuming taking almost 15 minutes to complete. Any one of the travellers except the driver can do the thermal checkup. Once done, they make a record of your name, phone number, and address (both Chennai and hometown). There are also active volunteers here to sanitize the vehicle’s exterior before travelling any further. 

After 8 hours of travel, we reached walayar by 02:30 PM. What I saw next was people standing in long crowded queues with police officers trying their best to enforce social distancing. 

Heavy rush of people waiting at Walayar checkpost for document verification on Friday, 08th May 2020.

For the next 4 hours we stood in a long queue for medical checkup. After completion, depending upon the zone where you are coming from, medical officers here suggest home or institutional quarantine. Besides, they also provide another transportation pass for the vehicle number you travel further.

By this time, my fellow traveller got his taxi ready from Walayar. He left in another 15 minutes after medical checkup. 

In an hour, my relative came with his bike, parked it towards a corner and after placing a home cooked chapati packet for me, he left home in another car with his brother who came to pick him.

Once they left, I walked near to the bike, tied my luggage bags, changed masks and gloves to a new one after proper disposal of the old ones. Around 08:00 PM that night, I began my journey from Walayar to the quarantine facility.

If you are also planning to travel by bike during this Coronavirus lockdown, make sure to fill up the fuel tank right after crossing Walayar. I couldn’t spot any other petrol pumps open (even in Mahe) at night during my trip.

All set for the long ride ahead 😍

Being a 2011 model unicorn, I took a 5 – 10 minutes break after every 40 km and drove slowly at a speed of 60 kmph. I had my dinner at my first stop. Except for the police e-pass verification on major highways, the roads are empty. There is no sign of life outside.  Humming my favorite songs, sometimes it’s better to ride slow and smooth. Unlike the dozens of long distance rides I have completed before, this ride to me was different. The solo riding adventure late at night and the challenge ahead motivates me more, and most above the immense pleasure to ride back home. As my tires hit the tarmac, I embrace the long lost freedom leaving behind all the worries and problems while focusing on the empty trails ahead, which is exactly what we should do in life;

Keep moving because this too shall pass. 😊

With the crossing of distance and passing of time, the excitement of reaching one step closer to hometown only doubles. There is thermal scanning set up at every district border. Police officials at most places made a record of my contact details and the quarantine center I was heading to. As said, if you have your pass ready, rest everything is fine. Make sure to sanitize your hands after every thermal checkup and police verification.

Around 03:00 AM, I took a break near a petrol pump in Koyilandy for a short nap of 1-2 hours. I was feeling a lil more fresh and alert after the sleep. I started again and the moment when I reached the quarantine facility on May 09th at 07:00 AM, I was happy like never before even after 25 hours of travel. This ride to me sure is a blend of happiness, adventure, fear, excitement, curiosity, and many more emotions hooked up together.

Needless to mention, having travelled this long on a half empty stomach and inadequate sleep, I was dying for proper food and a deeeep sleep. 

Travel Guidelines during Coronavirus lockdown:

  1. Travel only if you have all necessary travel passes approved from BOTH the states. It’s always better to stay where you are than being stuck at the border or elsewhere.
  2. If you commit to travel by one vehicle, restrict yourself from changing plans or vehicles later. This disturbs/confuses both the organiser and other fellow travellers.
  3. If possible, take 3-4 copies of each pass and stick it to the vehicle. This way you can avoid sharing your smartphone during every police checking. This also reduces the time you are likely to spend on pass verification.
  4. Carry food items depending on your requirements. Avoid eating out while travel during Coronavirus lockdown. 
  5. Always wear a mask and gloves. Make sure you carry sanitizer, extra masks and gloves. Properly dispose used mask and gloves before using a new one. 
  6. Restrict touching your face to the maximum during travel. If required, sanitize your hands before you do.
  7. If you are traveling by taxi/traveller etc, sanitize your seat and the areas you are likely to make contact during travel using a tissue.
  8. Fill up the fuel tank right after Walayar If you are travelling late night from Walayar to Kannur.
  9. After every thermal scanning, sanitize your hands before you travel further.
  10. Inform your health inspector before you start from any inter-state Kerala border.
  11. Strictly follow guidelines if you are under quarantine.

Let’s take a moment to express our gratitude towards the superheroes saving the world in silence beneath their masks. Let’s pray for the families who lost their loved ones to this novel coronavirus pandemic.

This too shall pass! 😊

ALSO READ: My Institutional Quarantine Life during Coronavirus

Ganesh Shanker K. K.
Ganesh Shanker K. K.

I'm a self-taught software engineer, a quick learner, a self-starter, and a pro-active problem solver.

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One comment

  1. Your meticulous ways reflects in your write up, the details you included will shed some light on someone out there stuck in a similar situation. You brave the storm well, mate. This too shall pass!!

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