Sanjeev Kotnala: Coronavirus Lockdown Quarantine Survival Test

22 Apr,2020

By Sanjeev Kotnala


Our brain’s first principle is to survive survival. That is what makes it to  Freeze, Fight or Flight in a crisis. Lockdown and self- or enforced quarantine is a rare situation. Our survival instincts get tested during such hard times. We are forced to take sides and make  hard choices from the available alternatives. We use our individual choice algorithm based on experience and expectations to decide and priorities actions.

In numerous leadership and team workshops, one had the chance to participate or inducted the Desert Survival exercise. In this exercise, you are given a brief.



You crash land in a desert, you have been flying on visual root. You have your coordinates and are some 150 km away from the nearest inhabited place. You are then asked to  priorities the list of 15 items you will consider keeping till the help arrives. It is a classic case demonstrating the impact of  collective wisdom Vs Individual wisdom  on the chances of survival during such situation.

There are variations of a survival scenario. In one of the situation, the group is stranded in an uninhabited island in Andaman and Nicobar. In another, a bus travelling in night falls into a gorge in the thick Meghalaya jungles. You have to survive till helps comes your way.



Post the PM Modi’s announcement of a complete lockdown, one of my friends flew on the last international flights to land in Delhi in the wee hours of March 23 2020. He was stranded as Delhi was not his final destination. His experience and inputs are the inspiration for this Work-in-Progress case (copyright).



You are a freelance creative person who was scheduled to speak at the ‘Marketing in crisis’ event in London on March 26, 2020. Due to the globally deteriorating coronavirus situation, you had to return to India.

You took AI 104 (London-Ahmedabad- Delhi) flight and landed at the Delhi airport just after midnight on March 23, 2020. You were further scheduled to take the AI469 at 0600 hrs hours you would have reached Nagpur by 0740 hrs. As per government directive, all domestic flight operation will cease from 0530 hrs.

You don’t know anyone other than your ex who you refused to help in her hour of crisis. There are no trains and busses or taxis that are operating.

You have cleared the immigration and picked up the customary chocolates, perfumes and liquor from the duty free. It has taken time, but you have cleared the medical check,. You do not show any symptoms associated with Covid-19.

You are now told that as per rules, you will be placed in compulsory quarantine for 14 days. You have to survive the lockdown or the period till you are twice tested negative for coronavirus and there is transport-facility available for you to reach your final destination.



1. A hotel at Aerocity where the Delhi Government has an option worked out. It cost INR 3100 per night per person per night. Meals cost INR 500 per meal. You will be given 2 bottles of 500 ml of water complimentary every day. The rooms have AC, and there is a kettle with an unlimited supply of tea coffee.

2. The ITBP managed isolation ward at Dwarka mess. There are no charges for stay or food.

3. Self-quarantine at your home and be available for testing and checkup anytime.


As per new regulation, you have selected the isolation facility, and before you embark on an escorted journey, you are told that you can only take 15 items with you. These will be sanitized and given to you. You can claim the rest of your luggage when the lockdown is lifted.



1. Five face masks.

2. Stereophonic Bose Bluetooth headphones with inbuilt mike.

3. Torch with a new set of batteries.

4. One 24-Watt emergency light.

5. A strip containing sleeping pills – Valium 10.

6. One litre of your choice of alcoholic drink under INR 4500.

7. One Plus seven Mobile with charger.

8. Macbook Air 13-inch laptop and charger.

9. Kindle White and charger.

10. Aadhar Card.

11. 10 Pack of 20-Cigarettes.

12. SBI Elite credit card with a limit of INR 2.5 lakh.

13. A book titled ‘Complete Pandemic- Corona Virus; precaution and care’.

14. Bag of Toiletries that has personal soap, toothbrush, Gillette Sensor razor and shaving cream, moisturizing lotion, mirror, Shampoo and conditioner, perfume and deodorant.

15. Amazon Firestick with a one-month subscription.

16. Medicine kit that has emergency medicine and your daily Blood pressure tablets.

17. New suit you purchased for the award function.

18. A small booklet. Home remedies to build up Immunity.

19. American Express Credit Card with a definite limit of INR 4 Lakh

20. 4 set of shirts and trouser, under-garment, socks, handkerchief and sleeping dress.

21. Gel-based Sanitizer 250 ml.

22. Airtel high-speed Hotspot 4 G with 150 GB data preloaded



Share which isolation facility you will opt for and your priority list for the 15 items you will pick and carry with you. Email your list to with Survival Kit in the subject. We will check how different your choice is from the collective wisdom of the Experts. The one nearest to the experts will be published as part of this column next week. We will share the expert opinion sometime in the next week.



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