As D.C.’s shelter-in-place order continues into another month, students and alumni are trying to find ways to cope with the isolating effects of quarantine. As of April 25, 2020, more than 18,000 D.C. residents have been tested, and about 3,800 of them tested positive for the Corona virus.

” Behind Closed Doors” a project of reaching out to my friends in Washington, D.C and sharing their quarantine stories during the Covid-19. I requested them to be part of the project by sharing their stories and asked them to pose for a portrait standing at the window while I take a portrait from the outside. In the next coming days I’ll be posting more stories. The project was inspired from @gabrielegalimbertiphoto work.

Preethi Sangeetha Kathiresan, GW second-year graduate student, master of science in biomedical engineering

“Before quarantine, life was normal with regular outing with friends and stuff. I was on the run just like everyone else. Now during quarantine, since the outside world is shut down, there’s more time to think about other things like rediscovering your long lost hobby, testing your cooking skills 😂, dancing for a tik tok video and a lot more crazy stuff. That’s the positive side of quarantine. On the other hand, as a graduating student, I find it really difficult in terms of job search and attending interviews. Online classes were also kinda fun 😂”

Preethi Sangeetha Kathiresan,
Ankush Wadhwa, GW Class of 2019, master of science in computer science

“I was in the midst of applying for jobs when the Covid-19 outbreak happened. Honestly, I feel like the unluckiest person in the world. After 2 rigourous years of university, now I have to jump into a job market that has sunken to such a shallow extent that job firings exceed hirings. The bright side? I have got time to think. To think about my preparation, to think about my applications, to think about my end goals and most importantly, to think about my priorities in life.

It gave me time to think about my health which I had been neglecting since the past months, worrying about graduating and looking for jobs. I started cooking again. Neglecting outside food made my lifestyle better. I was able to set up a routine for myself, which at this point of time was the most crucial thing to do. Oh, and I gave up smoking! So yeah, that’s something good that came out of it.
Hopefully, this will all end one day. And we will mark ourselves safe on our Facebook “Survived Covid-19”.

– Ankush Wadhwa
Amaan Kidwai, GW class of 2019, master of business administration

“Life has changed dramatically due to [the pandemic], and these are unprecedented times. Having built the habit of regularly going to the gym, the one thing I miss most is working out at gyms. I have tried several other home workouts but nothing comes close. I miss my Saturday morning schedule of biking to a cafe in DuPont Circle and reading a book while enjoying coffee and croissants. I miss hanging out with friends, traveling, going to pubs, social events, among other experiences.”

– Amaan Kidwai
Vedika Jajodia, GW second-year graduate student, master of business administration and master of science in information systems and technology

” Always out and about! Yes, that’s exactly how my life looked like pretty much every day of the week. Who doesn’t like a cheat day here and there where you get to sleep in and not have to rush out of the house in a hurry? I liked it too. But only once in a while. Who knew this would become a lifestyle. I have been isolating in my apartment for almost a month now. It isn’t all that bad, but I definitely miss meeting people everyday, I miss running errands, I miss discovering new places in the city, I miss sitting down at a bar and grabbing a drink for myself! While my work schedule hasn’t changed much, it’s funny that I also miss being at the library and gaining some motivation as I watch the productive souls hustle. I was extremely inefficient during the first week of isolation but I managed to catch up after. I am trying to cook as much as I can and eat healthy as I am home. Still have to figure a way out to workout consistently during this phase!

During this quarantine, I have only learnt to appreciate all the tiny moments of freedom more. I will not take any of these things for granted ever again. Each little piece of freedom will matter from now on. And that appreciation is so important!

I do miss being around family at this time, but having a Netflix account certainly helps! :P”

– Vedika Jajodia
Shritama Sengupta, GW second-year graduate student, master of science in computer science

Being an introvert, quarantine has been a blessing in disguise for me, the much soughted vacation that I’d been praying for since 2008 (Ah! My last sunmer vacation!) The day I learnt about the severity of this pandemic, the need for quarantining ourselves and the upcoming lockdowns was the day I realized this might be a long shutdown and a golden opportunity to do what I’ve always dreamt of- to finally relax and work on what I am and what I want to be as a person, physically and mentally.

On normal days I immerse myself in the works of Sax Rohmer, binge on American Dad and Brooklyn 99, workout for 1 to 2 hours, be it yoga or indoor excercises and study a bit just to make sure I do not completely lose my touch with the academics. My workout schedule helps me keep track of what day it is and prevents me from drowning off into the lethargic abyss of binges that last all night and sleep that lasts all day. Honestly, I’ve been there, done that and I know we all have experienced this at some point in our lives. But the feeling that I come out with after such a debauchery against my body and mind is far from positive and pride inducing. My yoga and once a week meditation sessions prevents me from this and helps me stay grounded.

On more fancier days, I dance on TikTok dance challenges with my roommates, paint a beautiful full moon night scenery with those paint by number kits and try eating super spicy Korean Ramen while watching tacky horror comedies and not getting choked while laughing so hard.

I love cooking and every few days I try to cook something fancy for myself and try to maintain a balanced and healthy diet at other times. I also love taking bubble baths and try to indulge in them once a week while watching skincare videos on youtube. One thing that I severely miss during this time is going on walks and exploring the uncharted parts of DC. On an overall, this is not how I expected to spend Spring 2020 while living in one of the most beautiful places in the world but I’m not hating it either! I understand that not everyone is wired to enjoy the indoors as much as I do and this might actually be a very difficult and depressing time for many of you out there. I won’t even try to preach here but end my story quoting an anonymous person,
“I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t excercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.”

– Shritama Sengupta

” This entire experience has been heartwarming and sad at the same time. Sad because I can’t see/hug my friends. Heartwarming because I’m appreciating life a little more now. I feel today I can control what I feel and how deeply I want to feel a certain emotion. I’ve become more mindful of the present moment and it feels liberating to be honest. Turns out I really like being on my own.”

– Devarshi Pandya

“Not a lot of things have changed for me personally because of quarantine. I am an essential employee at a forensic science lab and I can’t do my job from home even if I tried. So unlike most people I’m still going to work. I am really annoyed by the irony of it because I would be one of those people who would enjoy being inside and like the alone time. Going to work has been challenging in itself because of the increased risk of exposure for me which is scary. The positive thing to come out of this is I guess that life has finally slowed down a bit. I get really anxious about a lot of things but things getting cancelled or postponed have actually had a calming effect on me. Online classes are sometimes fun. We got to meet our professor’s dog virtually one time. However, my research project has suffered due to covid-19. We couldn’t collect more data so we’ll be presenting with what we have next week and hope for the best. During this time I’ve revisited my love for the Harry Potter books and I’ve been listening to a podcast about them non-stop.”

– Maniki Mathur

“The quarantine has been a pretty different experience for me. There are days where you feel like doing something productive and keep your mind engaged the whole day. And there are days where you are restless,impatient and don’t feel like doing anything.Before the lock down started and when life was going on as usual, I used to feel so insecure if I break my routine. But now I have realized that it’s OK to feel lazy at times or break your routine and do something different to get back your energy.Life has always been like a race or like running on a treadmill and fearing to get off from it. Now I feel it’s OK to slow down and think for a while about why I am doing something so as to have a clarity.The biggest learning for me from this quarantine is that I have learned the importance of Mental Health and maintaining sanity without feeling insecure.”

– Deivanayagan Vardhan

Major portion of my day was spent outside home, from going to the gym to going to work or class. Being in quarantine has affected this, I still wake up at the same time and work out at home, the work is done from home and the class are online. It is a major challenge working on our group projects (for class) remotely. Since I am not able to go outside, I have take up reading more strongly. I wouldn’t use the PS4 before the lockdown, but now I play on it too. All the extra time has allowed me to do some online courses as well.”

– Harshvardhan Varma