Keeping busy during the Covid-19 period is easy if you plan it out like Professor Rappa.
Okay, I am not handsome. In fact, I am not even young. But I am quite buff. Kind of. One of the best ways to keep yourself occupied is through physical exercise and that makes you buff. And you don’t even have to leave your home (in case you meet any Covid-19 ambassadors). And when I refer to exercise, I’m not talking about silly yoga poses like sun salutation or the corpse pose. I am talking about 10 minutes of stretching, 50 push-ups, 25 chin-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 40 minutes punching a boxing bag. Do this once before breakfast and once after lunch and you would have used up over three hours of the day.
Next up is reading. So, I read a lot but because I am old, reading is tiring. When my eyes get tired, I turn to watch historical documentaries and political analyses of Southeast Asia for four hours.
Add an hour for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and you would have made use of 10 hours a day. Add this to 30 minutes (two showers) and four hours of sleep and you would have made it a productive day.
I shop for groceries online once a week, sometimes twice. I try not to go out but when I do, I try to run all my errands including fresh-food shopping at one go. During term time I would have to teach at least three hours a week. Add this to three hours of administration a day including new course development and you’re exhausted. Better not venture outside too often because the air quality in Singapore in my view is bad.
In fact, I did not buy a place in Jurong West because my then girlfriend said that the air smelt funny, like bad funny. Being the ideal boyfriend, I took her advice, of course. If I am not doing all these things, then I would be interviewing students or new instructors. Naturally, talking to friends over the phone is always a joy; like a Covid-19-era schadenfreude especially when they complain about stuff.
I try to designate one day a week for resting my muscles and recovery. I use the rest of my time preparing quizzes, writing examination questions, articles, or preparing manuscripts for academic publication. My fortunate married friends must surely enjoy all the additional quality time with their families. I don’t because I live alone.
Apparently if you live with your girlfriend, some kind of ambassador might check in on you to see if you have flouted any law. This reminds me of V.S. Naipaul’s brilliant Among the Believers (1981). Covid-19 is a weird blessing in disguise. I miss my sons, my family, my then girlfriend, and my colleagues. Maybe things will get better after 1 June 2020.
Antonio L Rappa is Associate Professor and Head, Management and Security Studies, Singapore University of Social Sciences. He also teaches at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at the Nanyang Technological University.
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