Shirley Bhat and her family traveled to India this past March so she could receive some homeopathic treatments. Little did she know, her nine days would turn into seven months, with no sign of being able to return home.

Shirley Bhat is the president of the Rotary Club of FishHawk-Riverview. Bhat and her family traveled to India last March so she could receive some homeopathic treatments.

“The doctor who was doing the treatments offered his home to us as a place to stay because we were only going to be in India for nine days,” Bhat said.

Little did she know, her nine days would turn into seven months, with no sign of being able to return home.

While Bhat was on the plane to India, everything started to change.

“We got on our plane on March 8 and before we landed, all the rules changed,” Bhat said. “The world changed the day we landed in India. We couldn’t believe what was happening. We tried to change our tickets to come home, but we couldn’t.”

Bhat and her family were thankful that the doctor giving her the treatments agreed to let them stay longer than the original nine days. The family stayed quarantined together at the doctor’s home.

“We stayed in the home and had things we needed delivered by Amazon,” Bhat said. “The doctor would come by each day to check on us as well to see if we needed anything.”

Bhat’s husband needed to come back to the states, and since Bhat was receiving treatments, the family made the difficult decision of Bhat and her children staying in India while her husband got on one of the last flights out of India in May.

“There was one flight in August, but that was it,” Bhat said. “As of right now, there are no flights.”

Word got around the small area of India where Bhat was staying that she was from the United States and many of the locals thought she brought COVID-19 with her. At one point, the police showed up at her door wanting to arrest her.

“People thought that I brought the virus with me,” Bhat said. “The doctor had to put a padlock on the door to keep us safe. We lived like this for a month.”

Her children had to get used to taking classes online because the fall semester has since started.

“They are adjusting very well,” Bhat said. “This is another reason why we are staying where we are, because they have had so many changes happen to them. We didn’t want them to have any problems with school.”

Bhat is not sure when she can come home, but for now she is making the best of it.

“We have adjusted to where we are and the children have gotten used to their routine here,” Bhat said. “We don’t know what is going to happen in the U.S. and the kids are in classes until the end of October, so for now we are taking things day by day.”

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Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.