News & Information From Northeast India

Amid COVID-19 scare, a lunch with Giovanni ‘Jio’ from Italy in Guwahati

Tale of a person of Italian origin, who was in Guwahati on March 20, and was in all sorts of trouble...amid COVID-19 scare

While taking loans from a bank, there are certain blacklists. Unfortunately if you belong to these marked zones, your loan application will be rejected. Similar is the case with Italy nowadays. If one is closely or distantly related to Italy then you possibly have no access to any society in the world now.

Blame it on the outbreak of Coronavirus and its impact on Italy, where the number of causalities and a total clamp down in the country has made people conscious worldwide. As many as 4,032 deaths and possibly the largest spike in the last 24 hours, is worrying everyone across the world.

Social isolation and community distancing now is the call of the hour and more importantly our duty. For 26-year-old Giovanni ‘Jio’ Allegrini, things got tad more difficult in Guwahati, the capital of Assam on March 20. Being more than 6 feet tall, fair skinned and born in Italy were enough statistics to make Giovanni Allegrini feel lost and lonely in the city called as the gateway to the Northeast.

Presently working in New Zealand, Jio came to India seven weeks back and arrived in Assam on March 17. Jio was eager to see the one-horn Rhinos of Assam and the greenery of Kaziranga National Park.

Landing in Guwahati, Jio had nowhere to go. Hotels in Guwahati were not providing rooms to him, and some denied dining too. Left with no option, he approached a dormitory belonging to a religious institution for a stay. Here too, he had to face a charter of 10 questions and a final rejection. The long and lanky Jio wandered in the capital streets of Panbazaar, clueless. People on the streets called him Corona, a term that some people from the Northeast are facing in Delhi and other cities on racial sidelines. Guwahati was shutting its doors for tourists and more so to foreigners.

It was here that Deepak Sharma approached Jio seeing him surrounded by a group of people. With the Italio-English conversation, Sharma could soon understand the fix Jio was in. Sharma on his part, tried out a few places for Giovanni’s shelter but in vain. The best of human character comes out in adverse times and Sharma was no different. He took Jio to his place as a guest. It needs mention that Giovanni Allegrini has stated that in the test conducted upon him so far, he has been found Novel Coronavirus negative.

When we visited Deepak Sharma, a retired State Bank of India employee, the family was having their lunch along with Jio. Rice, dal and ‘masor tenga’ – a traditional tangy fish curry. Jio at his lunch after the day’s struggle, seemed relieved.

“Sharma is family to me. I feel secure here. I am maintaining one metre distance from every one and practicing as much of isolation possible and needed for every one’s safety. I do not want friend Sharma to be in trouble,” expressed Giovanni Allegrini.

In a society put on high alert mode, keeping an Italian guest at this point of time is no easy. However Sharma says, “I am aware of all pros and cons and have adopted all safety measures but in no way, can I leave a guest to his fate on the streets like this.”

For Jio, the Sharma house is his new address of care, love and most importantly safety, till the time things fall back into place and he can fly back with fond memories of the country which not only preaches but practices ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’.

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