Indian missions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will soon start compiling the data of expats wishing to fly home amid the coronavirus pandemic, a news report said.
The missions are currently awaiting more clarifications from New Delhi regarding the details that need to be collected and “some more issues” that need to be clarified, Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor told Gulf News on Monday.
He did not elaborate on the clarifications sought or the expected date of beginning the registration.
“We hope to start soon,” the Ambassador added.
As reported by Gulf News, the missions on April 15 had denied seeking data of stranded Indians for repatriation citing no instruction from the Indian government in that direction.
Consul General of India Vipul had said at the time that the missions did not wish to create unnecessary confusion among the members of the community though they were noting the details of anyone who was contacting them on email or phone about their need to go back to India.
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However, the new move comes close on the heels of the Indian Embassy in Qatar beginning the registration.
“We are collecting data about people requesting repatriation to India… At this stage, the purpose is only to compile information. No decision or details yet on resumption of flights to India,” the Indian mission in Doha tweeted on Sunday night.
“As and when a decision is taken, the Embassy will make a clear announcement. Please note that the form has to be filled separately for each individual, even if they are members of a family,” it added. (IANS)
Signs are being spruced up and prayers performed as shops in the Indian capital open their shutters after two months with the gradual easing of a stringent lockdown.
Markets were allowed to reopen recently after the government signaled economic activity must resume, even as the fight against the COVID -19 pandemic continues. Traffic is humming on once-deserted streets as buses and auto rickshaws have been given the go-ahead to operate.
However, people in the city of nearly 20 million — one of the worst-hit in the country — remain hesitant about venturing out as cases of coronavirus touched record highs in recent days.
Shop owners, hoping to slowly emerge from the economic pain imposed by a weekslong shutdown, have instituted new rules to cope with the pandemic.
“We’ve restricted it to three people at a time for browsing, and then we have new checks and measures in place where we first check the person’s temperature, we give them hand sanitizer and we have started giving everyone a pair of gloves as well,” said Rajni Malhotra, owner of Bahrisons Booksellers, a 65-year-old landmark in one of the city’s most iconic markets.
The city is only partially open — shopping malls, restaurants, schools and colleges still remain closed and offices can only have limited staff. Even in markets that have opened, only half the shops open every day to avoid crowding. Delhi accounts for about 10% of India’s infections.
“We have a twofold challenge — to reduce the transmission rate of the disease, and to increase public activity gradually,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an address to the country two weeks ago. “Coronavirus is going to be part of our lives for a long time. But we can’t let our lives revolve around it,” he said.
Shop owners even sanitize customers’ purchases to reassure people still wary of entering markets. Among those that sold some goods is a store that sells kitchen equipment — in Delhi, like much of the world, cooking and baking have been therapy for some of those confined indoors.
However, a sense of unease remains as once-buzzing markets see only a sprinkling of customers, who mostly visit shops selling groceries and other essentials.
“There is this feeling that complete your work fast and then return home,” said Aparajita Pant, a city resident who had come to buy food for her pets.
“Earlier one would like to linger around, there are so many interesting shops here but as of now, there is that cautious approach, at least in me,” she said.
That is not good news for some shop owners. Not a single person had walked into Leena Mehra’s shop selling handicrafts and silver jewelry during the first two days.
“It’s depressing. We have to open the shop, we don’t have any choice,” she said.
“We know it is difficult for us to sell this product to the consumer because right now the mindset of the people is not at all in this direction, but we will try,” she said.
The pandemic has left its mark on a city whose love for shopping and being well turned out made it a retailers’ paradise.
“One would take more efforts to get maybe a little better dressed, but now you come here, avoid jewelry, avoid wearing even a watch, I am not even wearing my earrings,” Pant said ruefully.
Even budget accessories and clothes being sold from small stalls tucked in the market’s narrow lanes have few takers. That is disappointing for low-income workers who say they desperately need to start earning again.
“Everybody needs money. If customers don’t come and this atmosphere persists, it will not be easy to face the problem created by this pandemic,” said a despondent Lucky Arya, as he helped set up a stall to sell summer clothes.
The wait for customers is also long for auto rickshaw drivers waiting on sidewalks.
A once-familiar sight as they skillfully negotiated their way through Delhi’s often chaotic traffic, they too have been scarred by the pandemic because of new rules allowing only one passenger instead of the customary two to ensure social distancing.
Two United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Indian expats started free online coaching for children who have dropped out of after-school private tuition because of the coronavirus pandemic, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news reported.
Simran Kanal and Mehak Lalchandani, who have been best-friends from their Dubai school days, were running their newly-founded ‘#PandemicCamp’ to provide free online coaching for CBSE students whose parents can no longer afford private tutors, reports Gulf News.
Pandemic Camp is offering free Zoom lessons in English, Maths and Hindi for grades one to five, taught by the two former CBSE students Kanal and Lalchandani, both 2014 alumni of The Millennium School in Dubai.
“We’re both very compassionate, both as students and as teachers. We came across parents who have had to withdraw their children from private tuition, so this camp is a way we wanted to give back to society,” said Kanal, a freelance journalist and writer who works for an online marketplace platform.
Lalchandani, a finance degree holder, said: “Since we’re very familiar with the CBSE curriculum, that is why we chose CBSE and are catering to primary school grades.”
She said the sudden switch to distance learning has not been easy for students, teachers and parents.
“In a classroom, you have 30 students and you have to personally go to a student and see what they’re doing in their book. But when you have 30 students online, then it’s very difficult for that one-on-one help,” Gulf news quoted Lalchandani as saying.
Kanal said compared to her school days, students today in grade four or five have “tremendous assignments” that often need close help by parents, who themselves have to learn new digital skills. (IANS)
Dotting the beautiful Australian coastline, ocean pools or ocean baths allow one to experience the public seawater in a pool built out into the ocean or carved directly into the coastal rock. Often thought of as a mini-ocean within an ocean, these pools capture marine landscapic beauty at its best.
Ocean pools are quintessentially New South Wales (NSW), with just a handful found outside the State’s borders. There are about 100 along the NSW coast, from Yamba in the north to Bermagui in the south, with 35 in Sydney alone.
Ocean pools took off in the late 19th century. Competitive swimming was becoming popular and people wanted a place where they would be protected from the pounding surf and unpredictable currents. Many ocean pools were built by surf clubs or community groups and still hold a special place in the hearts of locals.
Yamba Rock Pool on the State’s far North Coast is built into the rocks at the sheltered southern end of the beach, near one of NSW’s oldest surf lifesaving clubs. Forster Ocean Baths opened in 1936 with a popular dance hall attached. They are now known colloquially as ethe Bullring’ after a cafe that operated next to the pool in the 1970s.
Newcastle is home to the oldest ocean pool on the east coast of Australia, the Bogey Hole, which was hand carved by convicts in 1819. It also boasts the largest ocean pool in the southern hemisphere, the Merewether Baths. People come to swim laps, enjoy the beach or chat on the steps leading into the water, dubbed the Steps of Knowledge by locals.
Nearby, the Newcastle Ocean Baths are surrounded by a beautiful, heritage-listed art deco pavilion. The baths feature two ocean pools; the main rectangular pool has a separate area for lap swimming and the round shallow Canoe Pool is popular with families.
On the Central Coast, the Entrance Ocean Baths is a heritage-listed complex of three ocean pools. A children’s pool, 22m pool and full-length Olympic-size pool make these baths ideal for swimmers of all levels. You can also find smaller ocean pools at Pearl Beach and MacMasters Beach.
Illawarra and Wollongong
The Illawarra region, just south of Sydney, has a dozen rock pools, including Towradgi, Coledale, Austinmer and Bulli. One of the prettiest is at Coalcliff Beach, set against dramatic cliffs and the escarpment. Local legend has it that miners blasted the rock themselves using dynamite they snuck out of the mines in their pockets.
The Port Kembla Olympic Pool and the Continental Pool at North Wollongong are ocean-fed Olympic pools with facilities like changing rooms and showers. Both date back to the 1920s and 1930s, and are popular with lap swimmers and families.
Further south at Kiama, one can find two pools. The Blow Hole Point Rock Pool offers a safe swimming spot close to the area’s famous Blow Hole. Popular since the 1880s, it was cut into the surrounding rocks, giving it an irregular shape and natural charm. The Continental Rock Pool is 50m long and a smooth rectangle, perfect for lap swimming.
The southernmost pool in the State is the Blue Pool in Bermagui, named for the way it reflects a blue sky. A carved pool set into the rock face and continually washed with clean, clear ocean water, it’s home to thriving marine life, with fish, crabs and nudibranchs (marine snails) all coexisting happily with swimmers and snorkelers. (IANS)