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  • Akhil Kadidal

At a Quarantine Zone

Updated: May 7


The Tire Man

On the night of April 10, I learned that there had been an outbreak of the coronavirus at two densely populated areas in the city. I headed out there on the following morning. The neighborhoods were largely populated by blue-collar workers. About 70,000 in all.


The streets were narrow, some alley-like, the buildings square like boxes, nestled up against each other.


The residents were in state of angst, even when they smiled or tried to laugh. Municipal and health officials had made an unprecedented decision to seal off the two areas, to prevent the virus from spreading.


At one of only five pharmacies open in one area, I found this red-haired Muslim boy, who kept throwing glances my way but would turn away his face whenever I raised my camera. I eventually managed to get this shot.


The Customer

The pharmacist was a woman in her mid-30s, who appeared discomfited by my appearance in this low, working-class neighborhood. She tried to give me some vitamin pills saying that I should bolster my immunity to ward off the virus. She seemed genuinely concerned for my well-being. I was touched.


The first image in this post was taken as I was driving out of the area at high speed, to be able to file my story and photos in time. Seeing the gentleman sitting on the moped, in front of that strange, incongruous setting in a deserted street, I stopped my car and stepped out.


He watched me suspiciously for a couple of minutes, obviously uncomfortable, as I set about trying to get the shot. When I was done, I waved to tell him all was good. He waved back.


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