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BOOK EXCERPT: Your Best Day is Today Anupam Kher shares experiences of the lockdown

BOOK EXCERPT: Your Best Day is Today -- Anupam Kher shares experiences of the lockdown

BOOK EXCERPT: Your Best Day is Today -- Anupam Kher shares experiences of the lockdown
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By CNBCTV18.com Dec 7, 2020 4:45:39 PM IST (Updated)

New York, one of the most enigmatic cities in the world… A city that never sleeps is always packed with people every hour of the day. As enchanting as this city is, it gets a little lonely as winters approach. Most people leave the city during the holidays to visit their near and dear ones. There is a little less buzz on the streets during this time of the year. One can see mostly tourists roaming around the city, especially at prime locations like the Times Squares, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, etc. The cold weather creates some kind of gloominess in the air, which can sometimes get to you, especially if you live all by yourself.

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My first experience of this city was while I was shooting for the film The Big Sick in the winter of 2016. It was then that I felt the energy of this city and the influence it held over millions of people. But it was only when I started living in New York City while shooting for NBC series New Amsterdam, in mid-2018, I actually got to experience its magic. New York is truly the greatest cities in the world that leaves you mesmerised. It is said: ‘Once you make it to New York, you can make it anywhere in the world.’ New York has that kind of effect on you. It changes you completely. It is a city where dreams come true. As the producers of New Amsterdam approached me for the role of Dr Vijay Kapoor, one of my incentives for being part of the show was that I would get to live in this city.
Though I was recognised there for the work I had done earlier, I still felt so anonymous, which was great. I have always said: ‘Introspection leads you to a path of self-discovery.’ And living in New York made me introspect and got me closer to myself. It humbled me and gave me a sense of anonymity, which, in turn, gave me freedom.
Once, during the long Christmas-New Year break from my shoot of New Amsterdam, I posted a lot of videos from my Upper West Side apartment of the magical sunrise and sunset that captivate my eyes. And I wanted my Instagram family to enjoy that beautiful view, too. One evening, I was speaking to my manager and CEO of my company, Herman D’Souza, over the phone, and he mentioned how beautiful my sunset video looked. Without missing a heartbeat, I asked him if he would like to come over to New York and spend Christmas in the city. I could sense that he was in conundrum, but I could also feel his excitement.
I told him that I would be happy to host him and his family and they could have a great Christmas vacation. And two days later, he was sitting with me in my apartment, watching the sunset while his son took videos of the magical views outside. Mumbaiites, no matter where they go, carry a warmth within that can sway any kind of coldness away. With his arrival, the coldness of the city was replaced with love and warmth.
That evening, as I was having tea with Herman and his family in my New York City apartment, a news flashed about a certain unknown virus found in China. It didn’t grab so much of our attention as we got back to our discussions, giving it very little thought. Next day, the WHO (World Health Organization) reported this issue and there were murmurs around. But people took it lightly since we were oceans away from China.
Dr Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, was the first person to identify a rare type of virus called the ‘Coronavirus’. On 30 December, Dr Wenliang dropped a bombshell in his medical school alumni group on the popular Chinese messaging app, WeChat. Seven patients from a local seafood market were diagnosed with a SARS-like illness and were quarantined in his hospital. He alarmed the hospital authorities about the existence of a new contagious virus that resembled the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Memories of SARS run deep in China, where an epidemic in 2003 killed hundreds of people, which made him take immediate steps of informing the concerned authorities and his relatives. On 31 December 2019, the Chinese authorities informed WHO’s China office of the mysterious pneumonia cases in Wuhan.
The word of the disease began to spread in China, but Dr Li’s posts were censored. Wuhan Police appeared on Chinese State Television to warn the public about the dangers of spreading rumours. The media urged internet users across the country to not believe online rumours and help build a ‘clear and bright’ cyberspace. Dr Li Wenliang was detained by Wuhan authorities on 1 January 2020 for ‘rumour-mongering’. He was made to sign a statement that he was committing an illegal act by making untrue statements and that he couldn’t make any more statements publicly.
Days after he was released, Dr Li returned to work, treating patients who were beginning to flood into Wuhan’s hospitals. But on 10 January 2020, he began coughing. Three weeks after he had checked himself into the hospital, he informed his social media followers that he had finally been tested, and that he had contracted the coronavirus.
1 February 2020
As he spent his final days in Wuhan Central’s intensive care unit, Dr Li publicly shared how he had warned his friends about the new virus, his ordeal with the police, and his fight with the illness. He revealed that he lived with his wife, who was pregnant at the time, and a young child, and had quickly quarantined himself as soon as he suspected that he was infected. He also informed his followers that his parents were now hospitalised, without disclosing whether they or his wife and child had contracted the coronavirus. But he maintained an upbeat presence on social media and assured everyone that he had his medical license and hoped to leave the hospital as soon as possible. Unfortunately, soon after he was hospitalised, Dr Li succumbed to the coronavirus.
Excerpted with permission from "Your Best Day Is Today", Published By Hay House India, Priced At Rs 499. Title releases on December 5, 2020.
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