With the outbreak of Covid-19, many have found their lives drastically changed. Businesses and schools have been closed, sports events are no more, and social gatherings have been postponed or cancelled. Moreover, as the government issued orders of strict social distancing and quarantine, people have had to adjust their daily routines, in what are strange and unprecedented times. But what exactly are people in Hanoi doing to get through self-isolation? Taking to drink? Getting depressed? Doing push-ups? Re-watching Game of Thrones? Chào has no idea, so we set about asking several Hanoians what they were doing to keep busy and how quarantine was affecting them.
Cuong Nguyen, 24, maths teacher
“Despite the busy schedule, I practice martial arts and gym each for at least one hour per day”
It is said that after each time a forest catches fire, it will grow back stronger. The Covid pandemic has brought us a lot of difficulties, but is also an opportunity for us to slow down as well as deeply re-evaluate ourselves and society.
Before the pandemic, almost all teachers could not understand or had fear about teaching online. Miraculously, after only one to two weeks, teachers across our country have mastered the use of online tools to create and deliver really great lectures. The preparation for class lessons must be very thorough, elaborate and, consequently, time-consuming. Every day my colleagues and I have to work for no fewer than 10 hours on computers or phones, which is really bad for our health. Nonetheless, remembering how so many soldiers and doctors out there are trying to protect our country, I am motivated to work even harder.
For me personally, I also come across my old passions again: martial arts and getting fit. Despite the busy schedule, I practice martial arts and gym each for at least one hour per day. I also have more time for my family. After this epidemic, life will probably return to its original crazy pace, but I am confident that I will be able to maintain my passion and balance my life.
Phuong Kim, 60, pho store owner
“I am following the advice given by the government and experts, so what is there to worry about anyway?”
My daily routine is nothing special. Now the store has been closed, so most of the time I just wander around my house and watch TV to kill the time. I think I also spend more time with my family and taking care of grandchildren though, so that is a good part.
I am not at all scared of getting infected by the virus, even though I am getting old and my immune system may not be as good as back then. I am following the advice given by the government and experts, so what is there to worry about anyway? On the other hand, I am more concerned with my business and finance. I will soon be unable to work, so the revenue from this store is all my husband and I have for our retirement. I hope the pandemic will end soon for everything to go back to normal.
Duc Vinh Le, 69, retired maths professor at Hanoi University of Agriculture
“I hope that the pandemic will go away quickly so that every person, either old or young, will continue with the hustling but very exciting pace of life.”
The daily activities of the elderly during the time of social distancing still happen normally and slowly as before the appearance of coronavirus.
Perhaps the biggest change is that now in the morning I cook noodles at home by myself instead of eating out because all the restaurants are temporarily closed. After breakfast, I look through TV and surf the web for news about the situation of the disease in Vietnam and other countries in the world. Sometimes, because I want to revise and keep my knowledge updated, I use what I learnt and taught in Statistics and Probability to determine whether the news is backed-up or just purely biased and lacks evidence. Posting my opinion on Facebook is also nice, and so is getting my analysis featured on [Vietnamese social media platform] Lotus.
“Staying home is the new patriotism” means that most human interaction occurs online, otherwise we will be criticized by our youth for being old and not showing love to our country. Consequently, the days for elderly are usually longer since most are often glued to their TV or iPad until midnight.
I hope that the pandemic will go away quickly so that every person, either old or young, will continue with the hustling but very exciting pace of life. If quarantine persists and we only wait for meal times and live virtually instead of having face-to-face conversation with each other, life is no longer meaningful.
Linh Phan, 18, high-school senior
“I have found painting to be especially healing for me, since the world has been in real chaos lately.”
At first, I was quite excited about staying off school for a week, but then time came by and I started to feel isolated and unproductive.
I usually keep myself busy with cooking new recipes found online. I have always enjoyed cooking and baking, so I am glad that this quarantine has given me a reason to do so on a daily basis. I also started painting again. Painting is an old hobby of mine, but heavy school work did not allow me much time for it. I have found painting to be especially healing for me, since the world has been in real chaos lately.
Through this quarantine, I have had a lot of new-found interests. It gave me more time for me to focus on myself and also my family. However, I feel that this quarantine also prevented me from fully enjoying my senior year in high school. There are a lot of things that I planned to do with my friends, but I might not have a chance to fulfill them. I really want to get back to normal life as soon as possible.
Tue Minh Hoang, 25, Business Development Executive
“I have plenty of time to rest, cook, and take care of myself while preparing for the baby’s arrival.”
Self-quarantine is not so bad if you think of it as an opportunity to catch up on things you’ve been planning to do but did not have time. In my case, staying in is never enough, especially being pregnant. I have plenty of time to rest, cook, take care of myself while preparing for the baby’s arrival. Within the last few weeks, I have managed to cook so many new dishes, redecorate the house, paint the nursery room and finish the rooftop garden. There are so many “indoor projects” I could never have completed within one week if it weren’t for this quarantine season. “The biggest loss will be if we end up on the other side of this unchanged.” You can either waste away the moments that make up a dull day, or you can use this time to your advantage. Take your time. Reflect on your lives. Try new things. And be better!
I don’t know if you have heard of the word FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). I always know I have it, and my fear became so strong when I knew I was pregnant. I was afraid of missing out on my job, my social life, and any good opportunities or rewarding experiences. I know things would have been different when I was busy having this baby because the world keeps moving, and life goes on. However, the quarantine is forcing all of us to slow down, and my fear has become less and less. Suddenly, I feel like the world is taking a break for me to have this baby.