Live to eat - a new normal?
It's exactly day 34 since the circuit breaker as I am writing this. Much of my daily life has been largely revolved around the four walls at the home and the view of the outside from my window.
The streets are noticeably quieter, and the reality of the circuit breaker becomes even more obvious when you step out to buy food - Instead of the usual hustle and bustle of people sitting around, the counters of the Burger King outlet near my place is lined with bags of burgers and queues of delivery drivers and residents waiting to collect their orders. Instead of enjoying my meal at the outlet, I now have to deal with the mess I make at the table at home.
I've also probably had more burgers than I should have in a week. But after 34 days at home, it's hard to have much variety (at least from my perspective).
Live to eat or eat to live?
So I missed the good old days where we ate out. Who doesn't.
I like my Japanese noodles served hot in a bowl. I enjoy the ambience of the shop, the view of the chefs in the kitchen preparing my noodles and the staff 'yelling' occasionally as the orders are taken. The taste of ramen cannot be matched by the authenticity of eating it in Japan itself, but a lot of the shops in Singapore have done a good job of trying to replicate it.
Unfortunately, this is not going to be possible, at least until June 1, maybe even longer? Who knows?
Because part of having a good ramen is the dining experience, I had so far refrained from ordering any takeout until recently.
With the number of COVID cases reported globally not abating in most parts of the world, there's always an overhanging doubt: will this eventually be a "new normal" in the way we eat? The whole eat-at-home experience also led me to realize that as introverted as you may be, dining - at the end of the day - is a very communal thing. Like it or not, without the company of good friends and/or family, eating is just eating. This is true not only for Asian civilizations but also many European cultures for example in Spain when the dinners last past midnight.
Yes, dining can be considered a privilege, but unless society descends into anarchy or another pandemic decides to wipe out the bulk of our food supplies, humans still live to eat.
Understanding this gives me a little bit of comfort that at some point of time, restaurants and food outlets will eventually come back to life once the pandemic has subsided. And I think the same applies with many other aspects of life and businesses as we previously knew it - air travel, tourism, conferences and meetings. Can Zoom and other virtual meetings replace the way companies transact with each other? Would you take a tour of the glaciers at the comfort of your computer without having to set foot on Greenland?
Because the existence of the virus is effectively challenging the very innate want of human beings to go out, interact, trade, etc. At some point of time, I believe people will figure out how to make this happen - perhaps not so much by adapting businesses to the new normal - but by figuring out how we can both contain the virus, as well as, put in place new mechanisms / procedures that will enable all of us to step out and enjoy the sun again.
PS: The takeout ramen was good.