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Stay Home - Stay Lone (EP I)

Now that our routine days will follow different rules for quite a while, the restrictions laid upon us by quarantine may need some time to adapt to. Yes, we are not used to this way of life - you want to go swimming, to your favourite restaurant, a museum or cinema or just meet your fellows and keep your rituals, but you have to keep sitting on your place, nobody knows for how long.

Some Germans seem to start eating noodles all day and bunker toilet paper for a decade, while Italians run out of wine and Americans start to hoard weapons and ammunition for a guerrilla warfare (against whom - the virus or themselves?). Social isolation and our personal fasting period are still the only weapon and for some it might be more pain to stand being isolated and alone with oneself than to stand in front of an empty noodle display in the supermarket.

But times like these might happen only once in a our lives and hopefully there will remain also good memories of that strange time - memories about what we did different then, what were our experiences of loneliness, maybe of monotony, fear, sorrow about the job, social distraction. But maybe we grew with new insights, discovered new facets in us or our loved ones, found our creativity again, read the best book or even wrote one?

As travelling, meeting with other people or frequenting of public places is now limited, that doesn't mean for me that there is nothing to blog. There will sure be something to photograph at home or in the neighbourhood and I plan do document these days in a series called "Stay home - stay lone"

In this first episode, I will show pictures that I shot in March/April exactly 10 years ago with my first Canon DSLR, when I got the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis in an advanced stage and was forced to immediately move myself into quarantine in special clinic for six weeks.

Two days after I had received the diagnosis, I found myself in a room of that hospital in Gauting near Munich that I should share with an older guy from Albania for the next weeks (he spoke no other language than Albanian). When sitting there an waiting for the doctor, I remembered that feeling when I once went to the army and entered the barracks with uniform clothes in my hands - suddenly your ordinary comfortable civil and free life is taken from you and the door behind you is shut.

The clinic resided down in the beautiful valley of the river Würm, there was no cellular communication, no television, no internet, no gym. The senior doctor told me, that I am here to recover and think about myself and that all the distractions of daily life would not be helpful for the patients. And for some it was really hard to be homesick, away from family and kids and have no intime contact. Others were refugees, had come alone from Afghanistan on hidden paths for all their money and didn't know if they would see their families ever again. You realise very soon that you are not the only one with a health and isolation problem, there are always others who suffer more (some complain, some not). Feels a bit like prison, but it's just quarantine and you get used to it day by day.

All I had to do was to take eight pills every morning under the supervision of a nurse and get weighed, be in the room for the night, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the timeslots inbetween it was up to me to fill my time with something useful or not - to the extent of possibility. They promised if I would make good progress, I might come out after four weeks already. If not, especially if I would resist against the doctor's obligations, my stay might become some weeks longer. They didn't say the least directly to me, but I observed that with other insubordinate "inmates" (one time police was called and took one with them to a more "secure" clinic in a prison).

I needed to get weight fast to show that I made fast progress and so told the nurse (she was from St. Petersburg) that I am very hungry and if she could upgrade me for the double portion of breakfast every day. And she did. That made me grow 1kg per week and the doctor trusted that I would collaborate and do everything right and do my share while in quarantine, Also analysis showed that my tuberculosis has never been open, which made me less dangerous for the society.

We were allowed to walk outside in the clinic area, just not show up in public life. On my walks I found a hole in the fence that lead out into a huge forest region. This was my secret gateway to freedom! Every day I walked out there on my own, met no other soul and observed how spring came closer every day. The reach of my walks became larger and larger and I had to tell the nurse one day that I will not be in the room for lunch. Sometimes I took walks of ten to fifteen kilometers and I had my camera with me. The nature is always with you and therefore you are never alone. And - cameras have also been with me since I was a youngster.

Finally, after four weeks I was released and passed the gates of the clinic, promising that I had to stay in home quarantine for another two weeks and take the pills for further seven months.

As sudden as the quarantine had come into my life, the same sudden it was part of history again (until today when I dug out the pictures from that time). And same will happen to Covid-19.

The pictures below are a collection of my time and photowalks during quarantine.

An international tuberculin table soccer champions league, Latin America against Asia: two siblings from Honduras (r.) against Afghanistan and Philippines (l.). How will they be today?

On a sunny March morning. One of the places I visited daily.

The river Würm smoothly running through the forests of the valley.

Hiking through a post glacial landscape.

Approaching the Starnberger See, the ground becomes swampy, the lonely landscape has a different charm and you can't be sure, are you the observer or the observed?

This lady is posing for a portrait. Will she still be there today?

Passing by prayer flags with Tibetan symbolic. Everything changes, it all stays the same.

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