How did you get stuck at home?
Nadia: I planned my trip back to Kuala Lumpur (KL) for my brother's wedding. However, due to the escalating situation with Covid19 after my arrival, a week before the wedding, my family decided to postpone the ceremony to a much later date. I was scheduled to leave KL on Monday, March 23, but on March 17, the Malaysian Government announced a Movement Restriction Order (MCO) which is basically a "lockdown". The MCO will last for 14 days until March 31. My flight back to NL was also cancelled shortly after the announcement. I am uncertain about when I can leave the country at this point.
Sanjay: I am stuck because of a countrywide lock down in Nepal and the cancellation of my flight. I am not sure when the airline company will re-schedule my flight. It has been re-scheduled 3 times already.
How are you adapting to your new reality?
Nadia: Because of my recent travel history, I am required to self-quarantine for 14 days. I have not left the guest room (unless absolutely necessary) at my parents' house for a week now. It is definitely very strange not to be able to go out and see other people, even family members in the same house. As an introvert, I do appreciate the solace and quiet time, but it can be mentally challenging at times. To adapt to this new reality, I occupy my time with work, video calling friends, play computer games and Netflix parties! I do have to say that I am grateful for how the government is managing the pandemic. They have taken necessary actions by involving armed forces to ensure citizens stay home. I have also seen first-hand how the doctors and nurses at the government clinics are operating. It is very humbling, and I am confident I am in safe hands.
Sanjay: I am working from home and there are both positive and negative aspects of that. Firstly, and most importantly in this current critical situation is to be safe from COVID-19. Secondly, working from home is interesting as it saves time spent on the commute and I am working in a homely environment with family. On the other hand, I miss the ICT speed that I have in the office. I am using my 6-year-old laptop with limited internet speed and yet logging into remote desktop is necessary to run the timetable and Osiris software which are both resource hungry.
What changes have you had to make to your way of work and lifestyle?
Nadia: Since I am confined to a room, I try to spread doing work throughout the day to make my time in isolation more bearable. I do step onto the rooftop once a day for some sun and fresh air. I can only do this when my family members are not around, of course. A major lifestyle change is also having to eat meals in the room. My mother sends a tray of food to my door a few times a day and I bring the tray in once she steps away. I then make sure I wash the used cutlery before returning the tray. I am taking these extreme measures to not only protect myself, but more importantly to protect my parents and grandmother living in the house.
Sanjay: One of the more interesting factors is the time difference between countries. I have had to adjust my daily timetable according to Dutch working hours. Therefore, my day starts and finishes late in my home country (14:00-22:00).
How are you keeping yourself sane?
Nadia: Eating good food, video calls and playing The Sims! On a more serious note, talking about the situation with close friends really helps. Looking outside and seeing empty roads is also comforting. It keeps me calm to know that people are staying home.
Sanjay: In my opinion, working from home is not a big deal in this era of ICT development. Our work is not interrupted by any communication and technology gaps, rather we are able to save time while also having access to the moral support of family.
What do you see outside your window?
Nadia: I can see parts of the Malaysian National Palace, trees and the city centre. I am blessed that I have a great view!
Sanjay: There are few people outside and the roads are almost empty. There are only ambulances and government vehicles moving in the streets. Government officials are continuously making announcements about how to stay safe in this critical situation and reminding people not to go outside of their homes. We are being extremely precautious so that there will be no situation similar to Italy.
What word or two of encouragement do you have for everyone?
Nadia: Keep calm and take it day by day. It is also important to realise that this is a serious situation and staying home means saving lives.
Sanjay: Everybody is doing their job, living the life and enjoying their own way. We are in this difficult situation now because of COVID-19 so our routine or daily life may be slightly changed but this will not last forever. We should try to accept and adapt to the situation as much as we can. Don’t panic hearing the news around the world but try to learn from them how to save ourselves and how to fight against this virus. One day soon, we will be back to our normal lives again.
by Olivia Kawuma