Contributor is exactly Yusuf Abdulwahab
Getting a COVID-Safe HaircutWith COVID-19, even things as simple as getting a haircut were never the same. The photo above shows what that looked like. In Bahrain, where I live, hairdressers were closed down in March and were only reopened months later. When they finally did, patrons and customers had to abide by certain restrictions. There was only a fixed number of customers allowed in. Body temperatures had to be taken. Contact details had to be provided for the purposes of contact tracing in case anyone was exposed to the virus. Masks and face shields were mandatory for the persons giving the haircuts. Moreover, many people seem to not want to handle cash, and as a result, cashless payments are more popular than ever. This reflection was submitted as part of the HIST30060 Making History project at the University of Melbourne. HIST30060.
Covid-19 and Religious ObservanceReligious observance was one of the many aspects of daily life affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In my home country of Bahrain, congregational prayers were prohibited in mid-March, in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. The Friday prayers were restricted to only a single mosque, Bahrain’s largest. Under normal circumstances, Muslim congregants would stand shoulder to shoulder in prayer. This was no longer the case as seen in the photo, social distancing and mask wearing was enforced. The Islamic call prayer (the Azan) was altered, the normal line summoning the faithful to prayer “come to prayer, come to good deeds” was instead replaced with the line “pray in your homes” (as seen in the attached video, which I recorded in Bahrain on). It was surreal hearing this for the time. The Covid-19 pandemic was the first event, at least in my lifetime, where this was done. Historically, this had precedents in times of plague. Moreover, the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage, which draws millions to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia every year, was this year limited to a symbolic 1,000 pilgrims. Having attended the Haj myself a decade earlier and been in the midst of the human masses that descend on Mecca, it was very strange to observe the images of the few socially distanced pilgrims which undertook the Hajj in late July 2020.
Ten Days of Self-IsolationThe following is a reflection on my experience in COVID-19 testing and self-isolation, after returning to my home country Bahrain from Australia, where I am a student. Upon arriving in Bahrain International Airport, travellers are taken aboard buses into a giant white tent-structure. Here, my temperature was taken. Then, I was escorted to one of the desks (mostly staffed by young volunteers) where I give my personal details, including where I intend to spend my 10 days of self-isolation (the Government of Bahrain had only recently reduced the requirement from 14 days). After that, I had the COVID-19 PCR test taken (quick but unpleasant nose swab). The results are published via the “Be Aware” app within 24 hours. It was, thankfully, negative. I was also given an electronic bracelet that acts as a tracker, to ensure that I am where I say I would be. I am driven from the airport by my brother, it was decided that he would pick me up because he had recently caught the virus himself, and so, supposedly he would have developed some immunity. Spending 10 days in one’s bedroom was as boring as one might expect. My main source of entertainment would be, as it turned out, Ancient Rome. I was still taking a university subject, which was moved online the week prior due to renewed restrictions in Melbourne after COVID-19 infections spiked in the State of Victoria. I did however have to get up at 3:00 in the morning to attend classes! I did, moreover, end up gaining about 2 kilograms of weight in those 10 days. The whole experience of travel and self-isolation in the age of COVID-19 is just one example of how simple aspects of our lives (travel, privacy, education, exercise, social life etc.) were changed so drastically by the pandemic. Everything would somehow be more complicated. This reflection was submitted as part of the HIST30060 Making History project at the University of Melbourne.
Travel in the Age of Covid-19If you would like to know why I was travelling, please see this journal: https://covid-19archive.org/s/archive/item/30217 Travelling at the best of times can induce stress and anxiety. In the times of Covid-19, it is a whole different experience. I am dropped off at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport. The departure screen, usually filled with flight information, now only has a handful of flights on display. Incoming flights into Melbourne have been suspended entirely. My destination is Bahrain via Dubai International Airport. Emirates Airlines EK409 is flying at about a third of its capacity (the Melbourne-Dubai route is, at normal times, a very popular one and flights are usually almost full). The extra room is welcome, allowing many travellers to lay down and enjoy a little comfort in these uncomfortable times. Masks as well as gloves are required throughout the flight. A hygiene kit is provided. I sleep for most of the flight. When I arrive in Dubai, sitting in the terminal building waiting for my connection (which is in 10 hours because of reduced flights frequency), and as a way of passing the time, I join one of my online University classes. Three months later, in October 2020, when this journal was written, travel is still a very complicated affair. This is the worst crisis to hit the industry since the attacks of September the 11th 2001. I will not take travel for granted ever again. This reflection was submitted as part of the HIST30060 Making History project at the University of Melbourne.
Covid-19, Education and Making ChoicesThe Covid-19 pandemic has forced almost everyone to make decisions, some small and some drastic. The following is a reflection of how my studies as an international student at the University of Melbourne, Australia were affected by the pandemic. The date is 9 July 2020. Covid-19 cases have been on the rise in Melbourne in the past two weeks. This trend seems specific to Melbourne as the rest of Australia seems to have the situation under control. I receive an email from the University. The email announces that the studies for the second semester (July to November 2020) will take place entirely online. The majority of semester 1 (March to June) had also taken place online. But students were hopeful that a return to face-to-face teaching would be possible given the relatively low number of cases of Australia up to late June 2020 (when the second wave started). As an international student, I must make a choice. To stay in Melbourne or to fly home. I need to do so quickly, since incoming flights to Melbourne had already been suspended, and there is no guarantee that the same might not happen to outgoing flight. In my case, returning home seemed the obvious choice. I would rather have stayed in Melbourne (a city I love!), but alas at least to return means to be closer to friends and family during these times. I write this in October 2020, the semester is almost over, and the number of daily cases in Melbourne has now dropped significantly (to single digits), after months of strict measures. For much of the rest of the world however, there does not seem to be an end in sight. Submitted as part of the HIST30060 Making History subject at the University of Melbourne.