In March 2020, my partner, Amie; our 2-year-old son, Ratna; and I, who usually live in Kansas City, Missouri, were visiting Kerala, India, about to be in the throes of the country’s first COVID outbreak. When it became clear that Kerala was going to be locked down, we drove up the coast as fast as we could and boarded a flight to Delhi. From there we set out for the most remote place we knew—a small village in the Himalayan foothills called Bir.
On our way there we were nearly turned around at a series of police checkpoints. To go where? That was never clear. Hotels and Airbnbs were sending foreigners away. On WhatsApp, rumors were spreading about fellow expats being rounded up into camps.