Cross-cultural Isolation

Dear Yuri,

Another day ticked off. This one quicker than the last one…or was that the one before?

I can’t complain about my circumstances within our 4 walls – 3 boisterous boys climbing the walls but always having each other to play with and the games they invent are amazing to see. As their parents, we lost most of our own endless imagination years ago so we focus on managing the zoo during opening (home school) hours.

My hardest point so far came outside the apartment, this morning out running; we must all wear a mask when outside unless engaging in strenuous exercise. So, I felt ok going for a bare-faced run until I realised when I arrived at the nature park a few km away that I was the…only…one mask less. I could visibly see the frowns over the masks on every face I passed who hadn’t exaggeratedly moved away from the ‘selfish Ang Moh’ spreading his potentially deadly breath all over the park. I retreated home as fast as I could while trying to hold my breath when I passed anyone – not easy!

Singaporeans have been wearing masks for the slightest ailment all their lives, so is clearly embedded in their culture. I, however, am trying to adjust to the feeling after 39 years and find it claustrophobic to wear one to the local shop downstairs. It was announced this evening that the ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown and everything that goes with it is to be extended from 4th May until 1st June. Our first reaction was to look for flights home…..although we’d have nowhere to stay, so that is shelved.

We are looking at the night sky tonight thinking that if we were in our home country, we’d be feeling this situation out surrounded by similarly dumbfounded novices and that would somehow make the whole thing easier. Maybe. But for now, I am thankful for our health and our wonderful boys who haven’t allowed us a minute’s boredom since this began.

Chris, Singapore