Two week India holiday turns into two month lockdown for employee – find out how he’s coping

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What started out as a holiday for Mail Handling International employee Ben Ellis has now turned into a prolonged stay working from an apartment in Delhi, India.

On the 5th March this year, Ben set off to India, visiting his girlfriend for what he originally thought would be a two-week break of authentic spices, spectacular sights & majestic kingdoms.

The Bristol firm’s finance & operations analyst was taking a well-deserved break that allowed him to experience the magic & colour of Rajasthan during Holi, explore the old Rajput Kingdoms & delve outside of Delhi to untouched lakes & hillsides.

But whilst Ben was exploring, the Coronavirus pandemic was taking hold across the globe.

Almost two months later and Ben is working at his locum desk from an apartment building in Delhi, evaluating transit times, communicating with postal authorities & working hard to ensure our international operation continues to run smoothly – this is a “holiday” that he will never forget.

No different to the rest of the MHI team, Ben is working remotely; but he’s doing it almost 5,000 miles from our Bristol HQ, in Delhi, India.

And to find out how he is coping, the MHI staff have been in touch with Ben and produced this interview.

What can you see from your workspace? How are things in the surrounding area?

From my 6th floor window in Delhi, I can see a mixture of luxury apartments, ramshackle homes & construction works in the distance. The park, which is usually full of children playing cricket & older people walking, is now empty.

We are near a highway & my girlfriend says she has seen migrants with all their belongings, travelling back home. People have been leaving Delhi to return to their villages, so the city is emptying.

On the plus side, there are nearly no cars & I can hear the birds tweeting again, which is a welcome change. The pollution seems to be going; usually the sky is grey & the horizon appears foggy, but now the sky is blue & the horizon clearer!

How is work going?

It’s going well. There have been a few power cuts & internet issues at times, but I’ve got two monitors & am managing to be twice as productive. I’ve been working in UK time, to keep up communications with the rest of the team, but have also begun working earlier, which brings its own benefits from MHI’s operations standpoint.

Working at night poses some issues as mosquitoes keep pestering me but that’s a minor issue. It’s great that MHI have the software to allow me to work so far from home & another major positive is that I get to spend more time with my girlfriend, who I don’t get to see too often.

What’s the status on getting home?

With international flights having been delayed until early May, I don’t expect to be leaving soon. There are estimated to be about 35,000 British citizens in India, so the few flights that do leave for the UK are supposed to be for the elderly & most vulnerable to the disease.

My visa has been extended until the end of the lockdown, which is currently May 3rd, but there are still no suitable flights back to the UK after that date, so it looks like I’ll be here a little longer.

The media can say that we’re stranded, but as long as I am in secure accommodation, with food, then I don’t see why the UK should come and get me. Everyone is in a situation they don’t want to be in & whilst there are people who are seriously ill who need saving, I’m just happy that our government are saving them first.

Mail Handling International is one of Europe’s largest independent providers of international postal services

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