It’s strange but true. Real yet surreal. Back to normal but a “new normal.”
The world is ‘opening up’ after the corona virus lockdown that has affected more than 7 million people worldwide. Hong Kong which was affected in its very early stages seems to have done quite well comparatively. While Hong Kong has never been under any official ‘lockdown’ considering the fact that the people of Hong Kong took it upon themselves to ‘socially distance’ right at the very start, a string of imported cases in mid-March forced the government to implement stricter measure to control the spread. Slowly and steadily that has paid off as these restrictions are now being eased and life is gently rolling back into some kind of normalcy, or is it really?
Here are some of the ‘new normal’ scenarios some of which might be a bit daunting, but instead of feeling sorry, sad or anxious, try to implement some of these helpful tips to make the best of the situation –
After 4 months of online schooling, my younger son was super excited to get back to “real” school. The day dawned as we both excitedly sat in the public bus on our way to school. When we reached, it was lovely to see these kids walking towards the school, some alone some in pairs, armed with their backpacks marching straight ahead. It looked like a normal school day to me except maybe one thing was missing. Their smiles. Noses and mouths hidden behind the masks, their usual smiles, laughter and banter missing, this did not look or feel like a ‘back to school’ day! Next they have to line up at the school entrance to do their daily temperature checks, they are also expected to wear their masks all the time for the full 7 hours of school, PE included! The only time they are allowed to take them off is when they have lunch, which is again a quick orchestrated affair, unlike the usual much-awaited meal hour with their ‘besties’. Lessons are taught by teachers working very hard, trying their very best to teach on two different platforms – online and the physical classroom. Certainly not the most enviable profession in these times!
What you can do
– Encourage and appreciate your child’s tenacity and discipline in maintaining the mask rule at school.
– Do a regular temperature check for your family.
– Send a ‘Thank you’ card or an appreciative email to your school staff and teachers for their commendable work.
2. The Mask-ed world
We are pretty much getting used to seeing masked faces all around us, so much so that if anyone is without one, they are stopped from entering certain supermarkets, malls and even public transport. While the disposable masks are effective and ok to wear in cooler weather, the cotton masks provided by the HK government, are much better as they are breathable, lighter and easier to wear, comfortable to use and super efficient thanks to a washable filter in its lining. However they could look a bit puffed out and may tar your social appearance.
What you can do
– Use a thick eye liner pencil and natural shades of eye shadow to do up those eyes – making them the standout feature on your mask covered face.
– Be thankful to the HK Government for providing this environmental-friendly free mask.
– Try to smile at strangers even through your mask. A smile is viable in your eyes and can heal hearts instantly.
It’s funny or even awkward at times, when you are finally meeting your friends after a very long break and when the first desire is to go and hug them straight, but then you are suddenly mindful about the new ‘social etiquette’ and stop yourself just in time, standing there looking unsure, offering a squeaky ‘Hi!’
What you can do
— Say ‘Hello’ from afar with a warm traditional ‘Namaste,’ or give a light casual touch with your elbows to replace that warm embrace.
— But if you really want to give vent to your feelings then you can maybe wash your hands first before the hug to become as virus-free as possible, or maybe you could check with your friend in advance about the appropriate mode of greeting to avoid the uneasiness when you meet.
4. Sanitized world
Everywhere we go we see hand sanitiser bottles – big and small in public areas, reception desks, security desks, supermarkets, malls, etc. As if the world wants us to wash all our germs away. If you are standing in a lift, you now start using your elbow or knuckles or even a tissue paper to press the lift buttons. Don’t want to risk any germs getting on your finger tips! Forget the hair brush, the pen, the spare keys and abolish the lip gloss for a long time to come, make way for the hand sanitizer! Available in all shapes and sizes and various fragrances and alchohol-levels, this sanitizer has officially replaced the tiny perfume bottle you would have carried in your handbag!
What you can do
-Stock up on sanitizer bottles and always have one in your handbag/pocket when you step out! The one with a holder is even better as you can hang it on your bag and get your hands quickly sanitised even without touching the bag.
-Carry tissues in your bag and be courteous enough to press lift buttons using those. What you don’t want to get, you don’t want to pass on either!
5. Online world – The Big Invasion
While most businesses have struggled to survive in this crisis, the move to “online” learning, teaching, working, shopping have built fortunes for some others. After the initial frustration in dealing with new online apps, I am now quite used to organising my webinars and online courses sitting in the comfort of my house. No transportation, no coffee meetings, no casual conversations….just fast, efficient work! But that comes with a price attached. You get so comfortable working from home, that there’s never any end to the day’s work. Morning tuns to afternoon to evening to night, in different time zones and before we know it we have clocked more than 10 hours of continuous zoom-ing, evident by our tired eyeballs, aching back and sheer exhaustion of just sitting.
What you can do
-Discipline yourself. Establish a work-routine with fixed start and end timings just like going to office.
-Have your phone on ‘focus mode’ which will enable apps only after a certain time in the morning and will disable apps after a certain time in the evening, so you don’t get distracted by your phone at all times.
– Yes online courses are cheap and most webinars are free but don’t feel pressured to take on everything that is visible just to prove a point. Take up one course at a time and only as much as you can really focus on.
“Change is inevitable in life. You can either resist it and potentially get run over by it, or you can choose to cooperate with it, adapt to it, and learn how to benefit from it. When you embrace change you will begin to see it as an opportunity for growth.” – Jack Canfield