The New Normal in Bangkok

I have been living here for a little over two years, and when the quarantine period started, I saw the streets of Bangkok empty for the first time. The silence was deafening, and it made me feel like I’m in a different city.

By Hanna Audry

Bangkok, Thailand, being one of the most visited cities in the world, is a city that never sleeps. Every single day, the streets are bustling with tourists and locals alike, enjoying Bangkok’s delicious street food, breathtaking views, and unique culture. The COVID-19 pandemic however, had a profound impact on Bangkok.

I have been living here for a little over two years, and when the quarantine period started, I saw the streets of Bangkok empty for the first time. The silence was deafening, and it made me feel like I’m in a different city.

Now, two months after the quarantine began, all of us living and working in Bangkok find ourselves adjusting to the “new normal”. The new normal here in Thailand includes checking in and out via a QR code in most places such as malls, restaurants, and supermarkets for the purposes of contact tracing in case you were in the same place as someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

Moreover, everyone is required to wear masks and use hand sanitizers before entering any establishments and transportation. Additionally, similar to other countries, social distancing is practiced everywhere you go.

I am pursuing my graduate studies while working here in Thailand, and we have been having online (Zoom) classes since March, all the exams and presentations are done online as well. This is most likely going to be the “new normal” in the next few months until we’re all sure it’s safe.

Thailand has also moved the start of the school year from May to July. This means that both teachers and students have to adapt to this massive change in education. Having access to internet, a tablet or a computer is now a necessity. With work, I am one of the lucky ones who are still paid during this pandemic, and I’m also thankful that I’m in the line of work that allows me to work from home.

Most people are back to work now, but those who can work from home are still allowed to do so. The next steps and phases of this quarantine (or its easing) will depend on the COVID-19 situation, of course. But I’m looking forward to better days, where I can finally go out without worrying about the coronavirus. ∎


Author’s Bio

circle-cropped (6)Hanna Audry is an English teacher and an International Relations graduate student. She lives in Asia but her body clock is forever set to the EU timezone. Matcha lattes, true crime documentaries, and cute alpacas give her life.

The New Normal in Somalia

Forced vaccinations, COVID passports and protective gear might on the other hand sound like feasible (though not necessarily good) solutions in societies that can afford and enforce such policies. In Somalia and Tanzania such efforts would at best though be half-hearted attempts, considering how even more important initiatives have been unsuccessful in the past.

By Oscar Boije

My “old normal” before the outbreak of the global COVID-19 virus was not very normal, for most people’s standards. I am namely based in Somalia since about half a year, where I work for UNICEF. Together with my colleagues, we support the various federal and state governments of Somalia to increase opportunities for children and adolescents to access quality education. We have a long way to go: Less than a quarter of children were attending primary school even before COVID-19 closed all the schools in the country.

While I am most of the time based in Hargeisa (the capital of Somaliland), at the time the pandemic reached Somalia I was on mission in Mogadishu. Considering the capacity (or lack thereof) that Somalia has to battle a pandemic, myself and most of my colleagues were given the option and decided to relocate and continue working remotely from other destinations until circumstances allow us to return. This is why I find myself in Tanzania since almost three months now, supporting the Somali education system from distance.

But, enough about me. The real question is what will the new normal look like for people in Somalia and in Tanzania, post COVID-19? To even take a guess on the question, one would need to first understand what the old normal looked like in these countries, as well as what do we actually mean with new normal in the currently ongoing global (read: Western) discussion on the topic.

In most of the articles I’ve read online, authors have speculated COVID-19 to result in more expensive flight tickets and other challenges for future tourists. Many also argue the new normal finally introduced remote working to the masses, and that a large proportion of the workforce will from now on continue working from home – maybe even from the countryside. Others fear COVID passports will be introduced (either physical or digital ones), and that forced vaccinations will become a must. In addition, buying shares in a company that produces face masks and plastic gloves might be a good investment, as some predict we might need to continue using these protective gears in public places for a long time to come.

While some or all of these scenarios might become reality somewhere, in practice it will most probably only be the case in certain societies and more specifically for certain groups within those societies. I do not believe any of the above will apply for the absolute majority of Somalis or Tanzanians: Weekend city trips abroad were not taking place before COVID-19, nor will they do so after the worst has been overcome. Remote working and access to technology and internet is still a privilege not even enjoyed by everyone in some of the most developed societies, even less so in Sub-Saharan Africa. Forced vaccinations, COVID passports and protective gear might on the other hand sound like feasible (though not necessarily good) solutions in societies that can afford and enforce such policies. In Somalia and Tanzania such efforts would at best though be half-hearted attempts, considering how even more important initiatives have been unsuccessful in the past.

Over here, the new reality will most probably instead mean regression related to the positive developments that had been achieved over the last few years and decades. Poverty and extreme poverty will increase, and with it also the challenges faced by the most vulnerable people to access basic health care services, food security, clean water, sanitation, education, etc. The already ongoing financial crisis could last for years, and beyond creating new obstacles for the local populations and the economy, it might also limit the funds put aside by developed countries to support developing ones, which further aggravates the situation. Old, new or whatever normal you want to call it, the prospective is far from what “normal” should be like anymore at this time and age.

In Zanzibar, a tourism destination usually packed with visitors from all over the world, the number of tourists can at the moment almost be counted on the fingers of one’s hand. With tourism accounting for a significant part of the economy, the locals are understandably eagerly waiting for tourists to start arriving. I do not dare to say it out loud, but I do have a feeling it will still be quite a while before that happens. In the meantime, we continue patiently to wait for international flights to start operating again at some point – so that they can go back to earning some kind of a living, and I can continue my work in Somalia with some of the world’s most vulnerable and exposed children. ∎

Note: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and dot necessarily reflect those of UNICEF or the United Nations.


Author’s Bio

circle-cropped (7)Oscar Boije is from Finland and Bolivia, and currently lives in Hargeisa (though he’s temporarily stuck in Zanzibar). He’s passionate about education and creating opportunities for children and youth to thrive in life.

The New Normal in Maastricht

My “new normal” has been a sequence of months in which I went from a deep level of stress trying to imagine a way in which we could hold our business together without being forced to close it; to a deeper level of procrastination once things had slowly started to settle; to a profound period of purely reflecting in all what happened since I moved from Spain into The Netherlands to study.

By Javier Báez García

These last months have been nothing short of a continuous challenge from every front. I may not be at risk myself—at least not apparently, I am 22 and with no health issues—but the responsibility for doing my best not to put anyone else at risk is very present. I had to learn how to start leading my relationship with my girlfriend through Zoom video calls and texting. How to change the entire business model of my company in barely a weekend. And essentially, how to turn my small studio into different designated spaces so I wouldn’t go insane. Where to rest, where to work—and procrastinate, this has been a very important factor these last few months—and ultimately, where to exercise.

At the end of the day, we all can agree that this situation is just bonkers. But despite the horrendous effects it’s had in the lives of millions, it may have a small silver lining. At least it had it on me. And that is to get the very unlikely, almost unthinkable chance to stop. To breath. To take a look at where you are; how you got there, and asses what is it that you actually want.

My “new normal” has been a sequence of months in which I went from a deep level of stress trying to imagine a way in which we could hold our business together without being forced to close it; to a deeper level of procrastination once things had slowly started to settle; to a profound period of purely reflecting in all what happened since I moved from Spain into The Netherlands to study.

After such long time thinking and reflecting—and eating the indecent amount of delivery food that I will never recognise to anyone who asks— I have learnt three things:

The only thing you can control, is yourself.

This moment is perfect to realise that you don’t have control over anything. Right now, many don’t even have control on when it’s allowed to leave their house. Stop attempting to control everything. If you micromanage your life and everyone around it, you’ll fail at the most important thing—living.

If the only thing you can control is yourself, make sure that when you do something, you do it right. Taking pride in what you do is essential! And it will fill you up inside, at your very core.

The only person whom you and your time is accountable to, is yourself.

Stop fearing deadlines. Stop aiming at working a certain amount of time which you consider to be expected of you. Stop defining your work value by other’s standards.

Forget about long to-do lists that you never end up finishing and end up making you feel guilty. Set yourself only 2 medium tasks every day, that’s it. Dedicate as much time as you need to make you feel proud of that work!

Do not look at your week as an 6/8h of work per day. Look at it, as two tasks or projects per day. It may take more or less time, but at the end you will be much more productive and the work will certainly be of a much higher quality.

Not even a pandemic will defeat your procrastination. ∎


AUTHOR’S BIO

circle-cropped (4)Javier Báez García is a Spanish international student finishing his Bachelor’s in European Law at Maastricht Univeristy. During his studies, he opened a Language School and a Photography & Filmmaking business. He also co-chaired Founders Club Maastricht – promoting entrepreneurship for all ages and he was invited as guest lecturer at Maastricht University in the Master for Entrepreneurship & SME Management. Additionally, he worked as Residential Week Coordinator and Interim Marketing Manager for the EuroMBA and the MaastrichtMBA respectively.

The New Normal in Xiamen

Our lives were shrouded with anxiety and worry. But on the other side, we saw many brave doctors and nurses come to the front line to fight the virus.

By Xiuwen Chen

“New Normal” was a popular phrase in 2014. The government used it to describe the economy transition, from the fast-speed growth to the middle level, pushing for economic structure upgrade and innovation. In the shadow of COVID-19, new normal now has different meanings. I want to share some thoughts in this few months to also clear my puzzled mind.

At the late December in 2019, I remembered seeing a news popped up in my phone about some people who got infected in Wuhan. I didn’t pay much attention and there were only a few discussions about it online. At that time, I was busy with my dissertation and ready to go home for Chinese New Year gathering.

I went back home in January 20 and the news about the virus in Wuhan are heated online and the number of people who got affected surged. In January 23, Wuhan imposed a lockdown. I was shocked by the policy as it showed how severe the situations was. Since then, it became the main topic in our family, the society and the whole internet. Everyone was discussing about it and it caused panic. I was bombarded by various information – the Whistleblower heroes, the bad response of local officers in Wuhan, and the discussion about the origin of the virus.

Our lives were shrouded with anxiety and worry. But on the other side, we saw many brave doctors and nurses come to the front line to fight the virus. We saw volunteers taking care of people after the lockdown of the city. We saw the successful constructions of two hospitals in Wuhan within 10 days and the sacrifices of the workers who built it.

When we face the disaster, how to meet individual needs and how to balance personal freedom and other people’s lives are always questioned. But based on my observation, China chose the latter. The health and security of most people are top priority. The government arranged hundreds of cross-country teams to Wuhan for saving lives. We call it, “Provinces helps Cities in Wuhan” and its actions proved to be useful.

As a Chinese, I think I started re-thinking about Chinese people in a more vivid way. They obey rules, they work hard, they struggle to survive and they value family. But when it comes to group interests, they are willing to sacrifice.

In the darkest moment, the schools, the restaurants and all the stores were closed. Only the delivery service is available. It’s hard to go out for shopping because only one person in a family can go to the market once every two days and with necessary “tickets.”

Gradually, the business reopened again and people could go back to work with masks and temperature checking. Alibaba also created a health code which shows people’s healthy conditions and travel information. It helped track potential patients but of course, it also raised questions about privacy.

Meanwhile, we saw the outbreak of COVID-19 around the world and the number got crazy. I remember checking Twitter trends in January to see how people reacted about the virus but around that time, they didn’t post much. I guessed then that it was still very far away from everyone.

I don’t know whether the world became worse or it’s just my prejudice but I keep myself informed even with more depressing news such as the circuit breaker of US stock market, the locusts swarm in East Africa, America’s withdrawal from WHO, and a whole lot more. I learnt a new word called “Political Depression” and it seems that life is a bumpy road this 2020 and facing these changes and challenges is my “new normal.”

Job hunting is a hot topic in China after the slowdown of economy and schools are helping their graduates to find jobs. I always believe that looking for a job is a personal business but in China, schools and the government are eager to help whether you like it or not.

This year is tough and data shows the rate of employment has increased. Employment is considered vital to ensure a stable economy. I got some jobs offers from HUAWEI and JD.COM, but I’m still waiting for other interviews. However, I know that no matter which one I choose, work life balance is impossible here.

“Young people should grasp the chance to fight, to work 996.”
From 9 am to 9 pm, 6 days a week. That is my future “normal life.”

I will be back school soon to attend the graduation ceremony. Staying at home for almost five months is so strange but it also gave me enough time to think about myself, the society, and the world. Hesitated, worried, and sometimes lost. Are these feelings part of growing up or are these the attitudes we will continue to hold in facing the future? ∎


Author’s Bio

circle-cropped (8)Xiuwen Chen is an Asia-Europe Foundation Education Department alumna from Xiamen, China. She graduated from Nanjing University, China where she studied international relations.

The New Normal in Manila

From a hopeful start to 2020, it gradually became a terrible nightmare in a span of a few months.
In Manila, it was no different.

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal

The world took a major hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a given that it’s hard to fight a threat that you can’t see. There are no exceptions – everyone is at risk. This is why lockdowns and stay-at-home orders were enforced to at least contain the threat. Slowly, in order to save lives, every country in the world followed suit, but there were still casualties along the way.

It’s like a plot in a blockbuster movie but the only difference is we are living in it. That’s a scary thought. One would never imagine that this would happen in our lifetime but this is our reality now. From a hopeful start to 2020, it gradually became a terrible nightmare in a span of a few months.

In Manila, it was no different. Few days before the lockdown – or should I say quarantine – began, all of us were enjoying our normal lives. We were happily hanging out with friends and family, strolling through parks and malls, stuck in traffic, watching a movie in the movie house, and doing our errands. Everything was normal then but little did we know that all of it will be taken away from us in a snap. It was sudden and we didn’t see it coming.

It was hard to adapt during the first weeks. Despite the madness and uncertainty that ensued, I had faith that everything will come back to normal in a month. Little did I know that I was wrong on that front. It was difficult to sleep and waking up is no different either. Watching the news about the rise of COVID-19 cases added fuel to the fire. I can’t bear to witness the struggles of the people during the lockdown. Everything was too much to handle.

Weeks become months and hope turns into uncertainty. We are all living in unprecedented times and the struggle is different. Back then, during our normal way of life, everyone was fighting all sorts of battles but this pandemic took it up a notch. What I learned during all of this is it’s okay to take a step back and do something that can ease your worries. It’s also worth mentioning that we all cope differently, so take it easy.

From the gradual change of lockdown restrictions in several areas, it will be a while before everyone gets accustomed to the so-called new normal. This pandemic has caused a massive shift in everyone’s lives. I learned that it will be hard to adjust but it’s okay. The first step is knowing that you are not alone. We can’t fight the uncertainty but we do know that this is only temporary. Continue to create ways to find joy. In times of despair, it is important to celebrate the little things. ∎


Author’s Bio

picsart_12-04-09-1880520903.pngAeron Mer Eclarinal is an avid follower of the geek culture. After writing his first entry for The Diarist Projects, he used that as a launchpad to follow his passion to write stories about superheroes. As a result, he currently writes news and features for The Direct which primarily focuses on the superhero genre such as Marvel and DC.

The New Normal in Franeker

The new normal in the Netherlands is starting to look more and more like the old normal: shops are open, restaurants will re-open soon as well. The death toll is in a steady decline, and people are more confident to go out to meet each other, especially outside. The Curve seems to have flattened, and along with it our willingness to socially distance.

By Albert Meijer

“Assholes,” I say and instantly regret it.

The object of my aggression are two elderly people on e-bikes, passing us from behind, and in doing so were closer to us than the acceptable distance promoted in our new “1.5 meter society.” Luckily the wind catches my words before they reach their ears.

I’m walking parts of the ‘Slachtedyk’-marathon, a 42km road across an ancient dyke which used to connect the Wadden Sea to the long-since disappeared Middle Sea, protecting the Frisian countryside in the North of the Netherlands against floods. Every Sunday, I walk part of the route with my parents and sister. They live together in the house where I grew up, somewhere between the beginning and end point of the Slachtedyk.

Since I visited my mom’s birthday in March, I never left the house. This part of the country is ideal for social distancing: it’s low-populated, there are meadows, lakes and lots of wind, and people keep to their selves a lot anyway.

The virus hasn’t hit the area as hard as other parts of the country, but my family is extra careful. My dad is undergoing chemotherapy; my sister is a nurse in an elderly home. We order our groceries online, and keep out all visitors. Thankfully, we have a dog. Otherwise, I’d be afraid my parents wouldn’t ever go outside at all.

It’s a privilege, a luxury to be able to live in quarantine – but it’s not easy to be here. I miss seeing my friends and colleagues in non-digital form; I miss the city I live in; I miss sleeping in my own bed, or any bed – I’ve slept on an air mattress in the past months; I miss going to concerts and bars; and as a queer person, I am slowly going crazy from the heteronormativity and sexlessness surrounding me every day.

I’m sure my parents and sister are slowly going mad too. My sister’s workplace at times feels like a ticking time bomb, now restrictions on visitors are slowly being lifted. She works with people with dementia, which makes social distancing impossible, and face masks would cause too much confusion and agony. We have decided that if the virus comes to her workplace, she will have to move in with a friend, for my dad’s safety.

My dad has enough to worry about without the virus. My mom isn’t allowed to come to join him for the chemotherapy in the hospital anymore. While the rest of the country is slowly coming back to normal life again, they are still anxious about having friends and family over in the backyard for a coffee. Only the dog seems to be having the time of his life, with all the attention he’s getting now.

These Sundays on the Slachtedyk are what keeps us sane. We walk through grasslands full of rare birds with wondrous names: lapwings, god wits and skylarks greet us, each with their distinct songs. This area is one of the main nesting areas for Europe’s bird population. Some parts of the dyke are accessible to bikes and cars, but there is never much traffic. What strikes me is how close the passers-by sometimes come. And how upset I get when they do.

The new normal in the Netherlands is starting to look more and more like the old normal: shops are open, restaurants will re-open soon as well. The death toll is in a steady decline, and people are more confident to go out to meet each other, especially outside. The Curve seems to have flattened and along with it is our willingness to socially distance.

On the Slachtedyk, this means most people are careless when they walk or bike past. And logically, they should be – if they don’t cough or sneeze in your direction at the exact moment of passing you, it seems unlikely an infected person could transmit the virus in such a swift encounter, especially in a place that is always windy.

Our prime-minister is doing all he can to get back to this ‘old normal’, even if that past normality wasn’t deserved. Why are we pumping so much extra money in our national airline, KLM, even if we now flying at the same rate is unlikely and unsustainable? Why are we giving out money to the same multinationals who are evading to pay a fair share of our (and the rest of the world’s) taxes due to the Netherlands status as a tax haven? Why is our finance minister making poorly-timed remarks about Spain and Italy’s economic strategies, affected directly by our own tax haven status? Why are some companies getting more funding on their own than the entire cultural sector combined? Why are we only finding out now that Romanian guest workers in our meat industry are living in crammed, unsafe spaces, which now makes them extra vulnerable for contagion? Why is the government urging us to applaud nurses and doctors and teachers now, after years of budget cuts, without putting forward long term financial plans to match? And why is no one getting angry at this?

My anger is lost in the wind. I hope I can walk it off. ∎


AUTHOR’S BIO

circle-cropped (3)Albert Meijer (The Netherlands, 1986) combines an office job in the cultural field with freelance writing and making music. He lives in Utrecht.

The New Normal in Melaka

Since all shops and working premises are closed, I have been working from home, taking benefit of the advanced technology like Zoom to keep in touch with colleagues and conducting training for refugees whom I work with.

By Farid Rahman

The clock is showing 1:02am.

Today, 9th June, marks the 94th day of Malaysia’s Movement Control Order or MCO that started 18th March 2020. This also marks the last day of CMCO or Controlled Movement Control Order. The next phase called Recovery Movement Control Order or RMCO will start tomorrow, 10th June.

These abbreviations, or what most Malaysians call “short-form,” can be confusing especially when these terms can just be called simply as a lockdown. The term “new normal” is no longer a stranger to me and I guess, to everybody else as well.

Governments all around have emphasized the practice of “new normal” to break the spread of COVID-19. That means social distancing, wearing face masks, and abiding by the rules laid down by the government. Disobeying any of these practices could result to being fined or imprisonment – at least that’s how it is here in Malaysia.

How did I cope with the life under this new normal? Well to start, I haven’t had a haircut since 21st February!

Since all shops and working premises are closed, I have been working from home and taking benefit of the advanced technology like Zoom to keep in touch with colleagues and conducting training for refugees whom I work with.

My apartment has been my ‘gym’, my ‘restaurant’, my ‘movie theatre’, and many more. It was entertaining to see other people experiencing the same such as sharing cooking videos and motivational speeches over the Internet. And not to forget, Netflix where I spend a lot of time binge-watching anything I find interesting. It has made my time during the MCO not that hard.

However, things started to be a little ‘boring’ as days went by. Despite having the chance to cook at home, I had been cooking the same dish all over again – to the extent that I know what I will cook on a particular day. Going to the market, at that time, was only allowed for one person per family. Having only me and my wife in the historical city of Melaka, I was the one who had to do the grocery shopping.

My goodness, I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to look for food ingredients!

What made it difficult was that living in Malaysia, I am only familiar with the vegetables in Malay terms. So, having to buy them with a note written in English by my wife, who is an Egyptian, I had to rely on Google Translate. Some of the terms were accurately translated, some were not. Luckily, since I was the one cooking at home, I told my wife that I will buy the vegetables according to what I will cook. I guess that was why the food that I cook never change throughout this lockdown.

From MCO that ended on 3rd May, to CMCO (4th May – 9th June), the government was confident that Malaysia is on the right track to win the battle against COVID-19. With various government initiatives to bring back the economy and save businesses, I guess it seemed to be the right move to do so at this time.

However, inter-state travels are not yet allowed, nor international travels – and I, with this natural Beatles haircut, remained at home with my beloved wife. I was more worried about my wife as she is here while worrying about her family’s situation back in Egypt. The situation in Egypt is worse than in Malaysia, and having my in-law working at a child cancer hospital, makes us both worried about her well-being. It became a sad day for us when one of our friends there was infected by the virus and died days later.

Beginning 10th June, the government has allowed for a number of activities to be resumed under the RMCO protocol, however the public should always comply with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that aims to continue breaking the chain of the virus.

The good news about this is inter-state travel is now permitted. I can see a lot of us applying for leave and returning back to their kampong, a Malay word for village, for Eid celebration since they were not allowed to do so during MCO and CMCO.

The other news is there will be no parties, night clubs are still closed, no karaoke, no contact sports such as rugby, which is my favorite, no football, nor basketball. But honestly, I felt relieved because I get to return back to Kuala Lumpur (KL).

I’m returning to begin a new life with a new job while close to my family and friends. But over and over, whenever I think about these experience, it seems to me that 2020 is not yet “cancelled.” We can say that we have sort of “wasted” three months of the year doing nothing and only staying at home.

But I think the year 2020 somehow changed our life for the better because of our sudden awareness on good hygiene and more initiatives to keep our world clean and healthy. In work aspects, it also led to more initiatives in improving work-life balance since most of us were able to work from home.

Nonetheless, I wonder if our education system here will include this year’s pandemic into their history syllabus. I can imagine Malaysian students in high school being asked the following questions:

Define and describe the following abbreviations:
a) MCO
b) CMCO
c) RMCO
d) EMCO (which means Enhanced Movement Control Order and is applied to certain locations where there is a cluster of COVID-19 cases identified)

To end this, I wish to say that I see positivity in this experience. Younger generations should always view this as a starting point to develop something bigger that can bring positive impact to the world. As for governments, they should always put the health and well-being of the people as top priority in their policy makings.

As for me, I can’t wait to be a father. ∎


Author’s Bio

circle-cropped (9)Farid Rahman currently works at the United Nations Refugee Agency in Malaysia. He was a graduate in Master of Strategic and Defence Studies from the University of Malaya and was a participant of ASEFEdu’s 8th Model ASEM 2017 held in Myanmar.

The New Normal Series

On our quest for greatness, we have forgotten how to breathe. Our daily routines used to revolve around rushing to work, skipping meals, and staying up late. We missed out on family dinners to attend to work matters. Our minds were everywhere and nowhere at the same time. That was the normal and we thought we had everything under control, then the plot twist happened.

The past few months drastically changed our daily routine and have stripped us off necessary activities. We were left with little to no option on how to go through our days. The things that we thought were important suddenly turned into activities we can live without. We started this year with lots of goals in mind. For some, it might be the year of saving money, getting that license, finding a new job, or maybe traveling the world. But turns out, this year is just about staying alive. Because in the first place, isn’t that what matters most?

On our quest for greatness, we have forgotten how to breathe. Our daily routines used to revolve around rushing to work, skipping meals, and staying up late. We missed out on family dinners to attend to work matters. Our minds were everywhere and nowhere at the same time. That was the normal and we thought we had everything under control, then the plot twist happened.

We were all caught off-guard. What we hated about the outside also turned out to be the things we are missing the most. The places that were bustling with tourists are now eerily quiet. The city that never sleeps is now having the rest it had waited for so long. Humans don’t stop until they have no choice. And that’s exactly what happened. In one snap, the world came to a stop.

We are now confronted with the reality that we are never the masters. We thought we had things under control but we have been slapped with the truth that we are merely inhabitants on this planet. We are temporarily here and it’s not up to us to decide until when we’re staying. We can develop the most sophisticated technology but at the end of the day, the works of nature and the invisible will always be more powerful.

There’s no doubt that we will get through this dark phase. We have always survived and humans will continue to exist, as long as we are allowed to. But instead of fearing the unseen and the unthinkable, it is better to be grateful for just being here. Life is so precious and short. Rich and fame won’t protect us from death and there’s never a thing called job security.

This pandemic taught us a lot of things especially the truth about our mortality, our responsibility, and the fact that this is all temporary. Thus, we created this series. #TheNewNormal is a collection of stories from different cities in the world. This initiative aims to feature how COVID-19 changed the world’s way of living – one city (and country) at a time.


Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the articles under #TheNewNormal category belong solely to the authors, and not necessarily to the authors’ employers, organizations, committees or other groups or individuals.

Check out the stories here.