The pandemic has brought about many challenges for people around the world, some of which have already been extensively documented by the media, while others remain as private battles that are still being fought today. The same is true for Chinoys, who are likely facing challenges specific to their community. These might range from matters concerning finance, health or race, but that’s not what we’re going to discuss here because the pandemic is already oversaturated with negativity. Perhaps it’s time for us to focus on the more light-hearted experiences in quarantine, so here are 6 (light-hearted) pandemic struggles that Chinoys can probably relate to.
1. Starting an online business to solve an existential crisis
If you grew up in a Chinoy household, you’ve likely spent countless summers having a love-hate relationship with ko tiam, but since we’re all stuck at home because of quarantine, there’s only so much Netflix shows you can binge-watch before the existential crisis kicks in. You can always try to stave it off by treating yourself during a Shopee sale, but you can somehow feel your ancestors shaking their heads in disappointment. The combination of an existential crisis and other people’s expectations is enough to make you daydream about an elaborate online business plan. Whether or not you actually started the business is out of the question because after all, it’s the thought that counts, right?
2. Convincing your relatives not to follow obscure advice from “Viber Doctors”
One thing that became popular among Chinoy family group chats is the sharing of medical advice from so-called “Viber Doctors”. This advice usually comes in the form of chain messages and are usually about miracle cures for COVID. Some messages are helpful, while others are simply absurd to the point where it requires you to go on a quest for a very specific type of leaf that can be brewed into a tea that instantly cures COVID. There is no telling what kind of messages you will see when you open the family group chat, and there are times when you have to take on the role of being the designated fact-checker of your family.
3. Following elaborate rituals before going outside
Your family probably developed quite a collection of habits to safeguard against COVID. Some of these habits might involve drinking a cup of warm lemon juice, bringing slices of ginger in your pocket when you go out, or it may sometimes be as absurd as christening the air with White Flower. There might not always be evidence that proves these practices are effective, but during these uncertain times, it’s understandable that your family is willing to try anything in order to stay safe. You’ve likely picked up some strange habits yourself, but as long as they don’t harm others or have adverse effects on your own health, it’s alright to keep practicing them if it makes you feel some semblance of safety.
4. Trying to recreate restaurant experiences
Family gatherings are a staple in Chinoy culture, whether it’s a simple matter of eating out during weekends or celebrating a big event with the extended family, Chionys will always find a reason to dine at their favorite Chinese restaurants. Not being able to go to these restaurants must have opened a void in your heart, and at some point in quarantine, you probably decided to recreate your favorite dishes. After all, there are a lot of cooking tutorials on YouTube, but it wasn’t until you were standing in the kitchen, trying to cook with your level 0.1 chef skills did you realize that ordering takeout would be a better idea. It would definitely spare your family’s taste buds as well as the fire alarm.
5. Trying to have a Zoom party with your grandparents
The internet has enabled us to have family gatherings despite the social distancing mandates, but it wouldn’t be much of a family gathering without your grandparents. The problem is, not all grandparents are tech-savvy, so you likely spent the first half of the celebration teaching them how to use Zoom, and the next half talking to a blank screen because they don’t know how to turn on their cameras, and the latter half watching a modern silent film because they forgot to turn on their mics. You probably wanted to play a fun game as well, but you ended up choosing online Mahjong to be inclusive towards your grandparents.
6. Having a mini dice game among your family members
Large social gatherings are prohibited under the social distancing protocols, but Chinoys still found a way to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival at home. Granted, dice games at home might be a little awkward since the bowl is only rotating among six family members, and you probably unearthed all your childhood board games just to get enough dice in the first place. Online dice games, on the other hand, are the closest that you’ll get to the atmosphere of a large gathering, but the difference becomes apparent once you win chong wan and you’re just alone in your room, screaming at your laptop.
If you’ve experienced the things on this list and felt annoyed by them before, perhaps looking back at them now made you realize that some “struggles” were actually fond memories. It might be easy to paint everything in a negative light because of the pandemic, but we should learn to recognize the rare moments of happiness that can be found even amidst a time of crisis.