These suburbanites visited India in February. Only this summer did they make it back home.
When Daily Herald newsprint handler Nita Dave took a two-week leave of absence for an emergency visit to India Feb. 28, she fully expected to be back at work in March.
She and her husband, Raghuvir, finally made it back home Friday.
Raghuvir had traveled to the city of Ahmedabad for planned medical treatment, which turned into an unexpected intensive care stay.
Worried about her husband, Nita arranged to be by Raghuvir's side. Just before she was to return, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the country to shut down all international travel.
"It's been difficult to think about our responsibilities in the United States," Raghuvir said from India via WhatsApp. "At first, (financially) we were doing fine, but now our son, who is a part of a medical residency program in Houston, has had to help us with our bills."
The Daves stayed with family members in India while they waited to return to their home in Roselle.
International flights finally opened up recently, but seats were hard to secure. As they checked for what are called repatriation flights daily, they learned that all international flights were to be canceled until July 15.
"I have no idea why," Nita said from India.
The BBC reported a conflict between the U.S. Department of Transportation and Air India; that may have caused the holdup. On July 6, the U.S. Embassy reported that some commercial flights had become available to European destinations and could enable U.S. residents to return home, and the Daves finally were able to get a flight.
Daily Herald press operator Jagtar Pal, who lives in Streamwood, had a similar experience when he traveled to India on Feb. 25 to attend his sister's wedding.
"I was supposed to return on March 25, and I received an email from my travel agent on March 23 to say all flights were canceled," he said.
Like the Daves, Pal was able to stay with family until he got a flight home on June 23. He self-quarantined for 14 days before returning to work July 7.
His time in quarantine allowed him to get his finances back on track, working with the bank in order to get his mortgage payments caught up.
"I'm just happy I am back and have my job to go back to," he said. "Other people are still stuck with no way home. There just aren't enough flights."