As people in some parts of the world start to yearn the comeback of a “normal life”, I have officially entered the ninth week of working from home in Yangon. And let me tell you, it’s not as thrilling as I have imagined before.
Electricity goes off abruptly more than ever in my township, while video conferences always stutter and stop right at the climax thanks to an unstable internet connection. Ironing board becomes my new working desk, doing household chores and ordering takeaway via different delivery apps become the best procrastination.
The day usually starts at showering, exercising and having a decent breakfast, but it has never happened so far. The beginning of the day usually starts 5 minutes before my first meeting.
05:30 Sometimes I do manage to wake up early and go for a stroll to People’s Park. Fix my eyes on Shwedagon pagoda and listen to my favourite podcast —— The Anthropocene Reviewed which John Green reviews facets of the human-centred planet on a five-star scale.
“Discontinuity of tense and perspective hallmark of your time,” he said. I am still pondering over his words.
08:00 My meeting usually starts with “Can everybody hear me?” instead of “How are you doing today?”. It is interesting that people now use video conference application every day, but they are still not used to it. But some things will start to be understandable, for example, turning off webcams because my hair looks bad and wearing pyjamas.
08:30 Shortly after the call, I will set up my daily to-do list which usually includes researching certain real estate transactions, digging up who’s the buyer and seller, interviewing all sorts of people, and writing many emails to verify some market rumours.
10:00 After some good work, I will go out of my room and check on my housemates. They have never ceased to entertain me every day —— from spending their whole day wrangling together conference calls, intentionally mute themselves in a bid to take a nap during meetings, or posting tik tok videos online.
11:15 Oops electricity outage. “Did electricity cut out for you?” —— my first text message to my dear friends after the blackout, to know that I am not alone.
12:00 Lunch is the most anticipated meal of the day, as I always forget to eat breakfast. Should I cook a decent meal or order take-away? Settle for instant noodles eventually and watch a stand-up comedy for a few minutes to relax my brain. [Oops realise the electricity hasn’t come back yet.]
13:17 Alas, I love you power.
13: 20 Check out my mailbox and slack. Explain to my colleagues in Bangkok and Hong Kong that I just experienced a temporary blackout. They always find it unbelievable anyway.
13:40 Oops, I just missed my boss’ calls. Should I call back? Or should I text him first and ask him to call me back later? Start to miss physical office where I can just shout back, now it is a concept beyond imagination.
14:00 Call different interviewees and see if they’re going to say anything interesting related to my story of the day. Some interviewees can spend 15 minutes talking unrelated stuff, while some nail it within 5 minutes, I love the latter.
15:00 Get my story done.
15:15 Decide to order cheesecake from Uncle Testu via Grab. I need some dessert to satisfy my sweet tooth.
17:00 Source pictures from my story, rewrite some parts of it and thank the editor to give it a new life.
18:30 Finish my work of the day!
19:00 Reading, exercising, and chilling.
I wonder who will persist and read the story until the end. Will working from home become the new normal? I don’t know, yet it is very important to acknowledge that working from home in the first place is a luxury. Many people do not have this option which is particularly worrying in light of the current situation.