Enforced life-altering changes

Visitors looking at a collaborative work by artists Tim Rollins and K.O.S (Kids of Survival) titled ‘Amerika VIII’ at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. — AP

THE year 2020 will forever be remembered as the time when a tiny virus caused a global outbreak that upended lives and drastically changed people’s lifestyles and routines all around the world.

Everyone, from adults to children, has had to adapt and change how we work, study, shop, socialise, travel and even communicate.

In addition to the standard handphone, wallet and keys, the other items we have to carry when stepping out of our homes these days are face mask, hand sanitiser and perhaps tissue papers or wet wipes.

It has likely come to a stage where we keep spare face masks and hand sanitisers in our bags or cars, in case we forget to take them when leaving the house.

At the height of the movement control order and conditional MCO in Malaysia, many adults had to work from home and students attended lessons online.

For the adults who did not have dedicated workstations at home, it was not just about plonking a laptop on any available flat surface.

We had to get used to sitting for long hours, block out typical home distractions such as the television and bed, as well as adapt to having less office resources, all

the while managing a never-ending list of household duties.

We also had to get used to communicating and participating in meetings or events online via video conferencing apps or social media.

For my colleagues and I, it has not always been easy covering press conferences online.

There would be problems with technical glitches, unclear recordings or the speaker being muffled by something, thus preventing us and other participants from hearing and seeing what was going on.

But the upside of not having to work at the office means less time and effort is required to get ready for work and not needing to deal with traffic jam or unexpected bad weather.

Being kept indoors longer during the MCO has also made many more appreciative of greenery and being outdoors.

I have observed some friends adopting potted plants or attempting small edible or ornamental gardens on their balcony or garden space within their home.

Fitness enthusiasts have had to adapt their exercise routines.

Those who used to frequent parks, gyms and hills in groups had to either exercise solo at home or within their own corner of the neighbourhood, depending on the MCO rules.

It feels soothing to have a bit of nature at home and to not always be confined within four walls.

Meanwhile, all leisure travel plans to overseas destinations had to be postponed or cancelled.

Presently, we can only travel vicariously through stories and visuals posted online, explore museums, art galleries and far-flung destinations virtually or relive previous holidays and adventures through our own photographs and social media.

It is an eye-opening experience to go on a virtual tour of some of the world-famous museums and art galleries and learn about some of their famous exhibits, such as the Greek and Egyptian artefacts at the British Museum in London or Van Gogh’s and Rousseau’s masterpieces at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Personally, this is probably the best way for me to explore some of the world’s best-known historically and culturally-rich attractions, which I may not be able to visit in a single lifetime.

Since the conditional MCO means spending more time at home, it is also a good opportunity to catch up on spring-cleaning, reading and even learning a new skill.

Speaking of which, it is time to clear the dust off a stack of books in my house yet to be read, organise my workstation and spring-clean to welcome the lunar new year.

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