The busy kitchen at Kohli's Indian restaurant in Nowra is often a place of fun and laughter for its three chefs, but lately, it has also been a place to find solace.
The close workmates share jokes and keep one another's spirits high, finding that work gives them a break from a very stressful time they're facing.
As they watch their home country succumb to COVID-19 in one of the worst waves of the global pandemic, there isn't much that chefs Sandeep Gouri, Ishpuneet Singh and Rohid Mahajan can do for their friends and family who live there.
"Right now I'm the only one who lives in Australia, my whole family still lives in India. Every day we're seeing so many deaths and new cases over there, it's so stressful being over here," said Sandeep, the head chef of Kohli's.
It feels like everyone is aware about what is happening in India, and that people are suffering, it makes us feel less alone
"Last year I lost one of my Aunt's from COVID. My cousin who also lives here in Australia and I couldn't go back for her funeral. It was so sad for us not being able to go back."
India is now the country with the second-highest number of cases, at nearly 18 million, and hitting a record 362,960 daily cases.
Deaths are also increasing, with India's health ministry reporting a record 3,293 further deaths in 24 hours on Thursday, bringing the country's death toll to over 200,000.
Hospitals in India are struggling to keep up with the demand, with oxygen supplies to ventilators running out amid a nationwide shortage of the gas and a surge in infections.
"When you have a huge crowd and you don't have that many resources, it's difficult," said Sandeep.
"Developed countries like France and Germany struggled, but India is still a developing country and they don't have as good medical facilities and the room in hospitals. That's what's stressing us the most right now."
All with family located in the region of Punjab, the northwestern state of India, the chefs said they miss their family who they haven't seen in two or more years.
"I haven't seen my parents in three years," said Sandeep.
"My older brother also had a son, who is now two and a half years old and I haven't been able to see him at all. It's really hard. I was planning to go to India last year in March, but then COVID happened.
"Every time I call my Mum she's got tears in her eyes and is really missing me and the rest of the family to."
Rohid hasn't seen his partner for over a year.
"My partner is stuck in India, she went over there last February for her brother's wedding and planned to come back in March. It's been a year since we've seen each other," he said.
They each check in with their family on a daily basis, and all know family and friends among the 17 million people in the country who have tested positive for the virus, but are hopeful they are recovering positively.
"One relative is there and he's in hospital. He's been vaccinated and now he's at home and taking medication properly, so we're hoping for the best," said Ishpuneet.
Feeling as though they are in a constant state of worry, Sandeep, Ishpuneet and Rohid said they appreciate the compassion and support from the Nowra community.
"The delivery guys always ask us how we are, and everyone in the community has been asking how we're going. My wife who works in aged care is always asked how she is and people tell her they are praying for her," said Sandeep.
"It feels like everyone is aware about what is happening in India, and that people are suffering, it makes us feel less alone and gives us more confidence that we will get through it," said Rohid.
If you are interested, donate to CARE's COVID response in India here: https://www.care.org.au/appeals/india-covid-19-appeal/
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