Lockdown!

On Monday night, 16 March 2020, the Prime Minister of Malaysia announced in a live telecast that the country would go on lockdown Wednesday 18 March, because of the increasing number of Covid-19 infections in the country. A very strict lockdown, schools and borders (even interstate) would be closed, people had to work from home, only essential shops (groceries, pharmacies, etc) would remain open. People had to stay at home, no outdoor exercise, no social visits allowed. It was called a Movement Control Order (MCO)

In this post I will give an impression about our life the past 2 months.

The next day there was a rush on supermarkets and groceries, to buy food. We were a bit late, many shelves were empty already.

That day was also my last chance to visit Bukit Kiara. This time I walked in the lower part of the park (green line). The prison fence in red.

The first day of the lockdown. Visiting a supermarket to buy food was still allowed, so I walked to Tesco, carpark almost empty. Not much useful stock left in Tesco, because many people had been panic buying. Other shops closed, also next door IKEA and Mcdonalds.

We managed to buy some canned food, crackers, maggi mee, just in case there would be a shortage.

People were advised to wear masks when going out. Although I was personally not convinced that it would help, we went with the flow.

But our supply of masks was very limited. Hin, a Kiara friend of mine, had ordered a few boxes, and I could buy one from him. A transaction without physical contact, I drove to his house where the box was waiting for me on a pillar next to his gate. Payment online 😉 .

We were not allowed to receive visitors in our condo. So, for many weeks I didn’t talk to anybody, except the occasional cashier in the supermarket. I don’t think I would have managed without Aric. Whatsapp also helped, I spent many hours a day chatting with family and friends. Physical distancing led to social bonding! But still I had a few days of depression.

Most of our shopping we did in the Jaya supermarket, about 500 m from our condo. After the first days of “hoarding”, stock was generally sufficient. When I went shopping I always walked, to have at least some exercise.

Supermarkets had introduced a door policy, limiting the number of customers, measuring their temperature and sometimes providing them with plastic gloves. It resulted in sometimes large queues, but as a senior citizen I didn’t have to queue!

To have more exercise I sometimes walked to Tesco about 2.5 km one way. The first time I was a bit worried about the police, as they were sometimes overreacting. One senior citizen had been arrested because he was walking to the grocery, 300 meter from his home, wearing sport shoes. Read the report here. But nothing happened to me (I was wearing sandals haha)

Regarding food, before the lockdown it was our usual routine to go out for dinner a few times a week, or order food to be delivered, and only prepare food ourselves one or two times a week. But now all restaurants were closed and Aric was reluctant to have food delivered by Grab or Panda, because of the hypothetical risk of infection. So from 18 March until last week, we have been preparing dinner ourselves every day!

Here is a selection of dishes prepared by Aric. Mostly Chinese cuisine, from the nice composition you can see that he is a designer 🙂

Here is a selection of my “creations” , Italian food and traditional Dutch fare.

With so much nice food and without my usual hiking in Bukit Kiara, it was no wonder that I gained some weight during the past period.

Did I do anything else beside eating and chatting? Yes, I watched a lot of movies. I am a fan of Pier Paolo Pasolini and many of his films can be downloaded from the Internet. I watched Edipo Re (1967), Teorema (1968), Porcile (1969), Arabian Nights (1974) and a few more.

Another favourite of mine is the Taiwanese film director Tsai Ming Liang . I watched Rebels of the Neon God (1992), Vive l’Amour (1994), The River (1997) and The Hole (1998). I am now watching I don’t want to sleep alone (2007), shot in Malaysia and originally banned here because it showed the country “in a bad light”.

Two more films I watched and (only) one book I read. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) is a religious satire about Brian, a Jewish boy, who is born on the same day as Jesus and is mistaken for the Messiah. It was so controversial that it was banned in several countries and I had never watched it, although I was a big fan of Monty Python. Hilarious movie.

Not hilarious at all, actually quite scary, is the movie Contagion (2011) . It describes quite accurately a virus outbreak similar to the Covid-19 pandemic. Contact tracing, fomites, the frantic efforts to develop a vaccine.

I was planning to read more, but I only finished one book. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, the author of two bestsellers, Sapiens and Homo Deus. The book was published in 2018, before the Covid-19 pandemic, otherwise he would probably have added a 22nd lesson, read for example this article written by him: In the Battle Against Coronavirus, Humanity Lacks Leadership.

I also tried to blog, but I was not always in the mood. I only published one post about an unknown opera from Domenico Scarlatti. So unknown, that it took me a long time to Google for information. Here is the result, click on the image to go to the blog.

Of course I followed the news about Covid-19, especially in Malaysia and the Netherlands. Here are two graphs (from the Worldometers site). It is interesting to compare them. First of all, the vertical scales are different! Many more people have been infected in the Netherlands than in Malaysia. When you take into account the difference in population (Malaysia has almost twice as many people), the difference becomes even more dramatic. Per 1 million people Malaysia has ( as per 17 May) 213 infections and 3 deaths, compared to the Netherlands 2561 infections and 331 deaths.

Another conspicuous difference is the shape of the graph. You expect a bell-shaped curve (for many years already I am planning to write a blog about exponential growth and S-curves) , for the Netherlands that is roughly the case, but not for Malaysia, where there is a sudden start of infections around 17 March. An explanation can be found here.

On 17 April I celebrated my 76th birthday. A lockdown birthday, no visitors of course. But a few days before my birthday I received an email “16282 is out for delivery” from a company selling liquor. As I had not ordered anything, I thought it might be spam and didn’t pay attention to it. So I was very surprised that GDEX actually delivered a package with a nice bottle of whisky! Turned out to be a present from our UK friend Rodney! Very much appreciated 😉 . Aric surpassed himself by preparing a sublime meal and baking a delicious birthday cake.

The first MCO was for two weeks, but it was extended by the government several times. On 1 May the Prime Minister announced that from 4 May some of the regulations would be relaxed, the Conditional MCO . For me the most important relaxation was that we were again allowed to be outside , walk and exercise. Immediately I started walking around our condo. No jungle, but at least green and refreshing.

Unfortunately Bukit Kiara still remains closed, but it is possible to hike in North Kiara. Of course keeping social distance 🙂

The CMCO has been extended until 9 June. If any new developments happen, I will update this post

12 thoughts on “Lockdown!

  1. Hi jan.
    Thanks for the entertaining blog
    Lots of things I remember
    Haha. I even got a mention!!
    Always so nice to read
    Thanks

  2. Very interesting. You’ve certainly been eating well during your confinement. I’m so happy now that in London most eating places have now reopened for takeaways.

  3. Jan, I always wonder how many followers you have and whether I should respond in an email or here. I’m a loyal follower myself and this blog in particular offered all those clicks to things which help alleviate the boredom of Covid. I’m a fan of Yuval and immediately clicked to his essay.

    I’m grateful to be in the Thailand forest where lockdown is not so severe as Malaysia and the number of daily infections is close to zero.

  4. Hi Jan,
    Wishing you a belated Happy Birthday. Mine was a few days before yours; also during MCO. Notwithstanding, I only had a delivery meal unlike your sumptuous dinner with a good Whisky to boot!

    I read today that Tesco has posted a notification that they will not admit anyone under 16 and above 65 years old. Could be fake news. There are so many floating around nowadays. Some people just have too much time to indulge in such a wasteful activity; Mr Trump excepted. It is his normal activity!

    Cheers.
    Tony

  5. Hoi Jan,

    Leuk om te horen hoe het je daar vergaat. Ik herken wel het een en ander: bijvoorbeeld wat depressieve gevoelens zo nu en dan door het beklemmende van de situatie maar vooral ook het intensiveren van contacten. Ik fiets met oude vrienden, wandel door de buurt met buurtgenoten, app met oude bekenden, heb virtuele borrels met mijn club beste vrienden, knuffel nog meer met mijn kinderen enzovoorts. Onlangs las ik een stuk van een filosoof die stelde dat je de zin van het leven moet zoeken in de verbintenis met anderen. Zo voel ik dat ook. Enerzijds zou ik graag beter willen zijn in alleen en onafhankelijk zijn (niet mijn sterkste kant…), anderzijds zijn we sterk sociale dieren en denk ik dat juist die sociale context veel betekenis aan ons leven kan geven. Het leven kan ten diepste zinloos zijn maar mensen en menselijke emoties zijn echt. Verder merk ik dat ik door de situatie “kleinere dingen” meer ga waarderen: “alledaagse” interacties met andere mensen, mooie bloemen, insecten in de tuin, mooie wolken in de lucht. Tot voorkort had ik de neiging om van het ene “grote” naar het andere “grote” te willen gaan: naar Thailand, naar Florida etcetera. Noodgedwongen geniet ik nu meer van hetgeen dichtbij is. En dat is ook wel eens goed! Alhoewel ik nog steeds een moord zou plegen om nu naar Thailand of Maleisie te kunnen gaan (-: Hou je taai!
    Groet,
    Johan

  6. Hi Jan,
    The side effect of the Covid-19 pandemic here in Crawley, has been interesting, one would think that the first items that people would have stockpiled would have been food items, and no it was toilet rolls and kitchen rolls and hand sanitizer. Eddie and I have not has any problems with any shortage of food. Here in the UK face masks for the general public have been somewhat discouraged as the medical services have a greater need, and they do not really provide much benefit outside the strict regime of a hospital or medical centre.
    Because I am a old wrinkly in my late 70’s I was advised to self isolate, however I still went shopping but gave up mountain bike cycling out on the trails, mainly because of the worry of having an accident and putting unwanted pressure on our National Health Service, broken bones is not something they want with the pressure the NHS is under at this point in time. Both Eddie and I are keeping up to date with the situation in both east and west Malaysia and Spore via his family and his and my friends along with RTM and Singapore’s MeListen site.
    You and Aric take care now

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