On 25 March, 1.3 billion people in India hunkered down for the world's largest lockdown. What was going to last for three weeks has now been extended till 3 May, as the country records 8,988 active cases and 339 deaths (at the time of writing). All transportation remain suspended and only essential services like grocery shops, hospitals and pharmacies are allowed to operate.
Life under lockdown isn't easy (especially for those less privileged among us), but we are framing this 'black swan' event as a chance for the world to press pause and Mother Nature to regain her vigour.
From our end at Assam Bengal Navigation, we've put into play a few measures that we hope will get all of us to the other side of this pandemic as soon and smoothly as possible.
Self-quarantining on ABN ships
As the last of our international guests left for their homes, we took precautionary measures and requested all crew members to "self-quarantine" on the ship for a fortnight before disembarking themselves. This "self-quarantine" ended up coinciding with the national lockdown, which means that – by the time restrictions lift – our crew will have been in isolation on ABN ships for nearly 2 months!
ABN Rajmahal crew trying out new hobbies and interests during lockdown
Thanks to a premature end to the cruising season, all ships are fully stocked with essentials, while fresh vegetables by enterprising farmers get delivered by country boat. Plus, some of the boys have taken a keen interest in fishing with makeshift gear, while others have chosen to pursue their artistic sides!
Supporting our staff
We took a pledge to support our staff through the good times and the bad when we first launched our company in 2003. At a time like now, we are renewing our pledge. ABN will continue to support over 300 employees and their families by paying salaries in full without any government intervention.
Caring for our community
As a company, we rely deeply on local communities that choose to embrace tourism and invite us into their homes and villages. They need our support as much as our employees do, especially those areas with weaker public health infrastructure. To this end, we contributed to our State and National Relief Funds in the fight to curb the coronavirus.
Planning for the future
"When fisherman cannot go to sea, they repair their nets" – Nabil Azadi
We're putting one of our favourite quotes into practice during this time, and preparing for when the world can travel again. We're creating plans, strategies and little details that we know our guests will love when cruising season reopens again. And, in the meantime, we'll continue to inspire you with stories from the Subcontinent's greatest rivers on Facebook and Instagram.
In the mood to plan holidays?
Sometimes, ignorance (of current circumstances) is bliss. We don't know when the world will reopen its borders again, but we do love planning holidays! Write to us and we'll help you put together a perfect itinerary for a time in the future when you're ready.