June 19, 2020

Perhaps Madonna said it best when she referred to the coronavirus as “the great equaliser.” She tweeted, “That’s the thing about Covid-19. It doesn’t care about how rich you are, how famous you are, how funny you are, how smart you are, where you live, how old you are, what amazing stories you can tell.” Even celebrities have been stripped of their ostentatious lifestyles, spending the unforeseen bounty of time indoors reflecting and finding creative ways to avoid going stir crazy. While some are coping well with the disruption of normalcy, others seem to be improvising as they go along. 

In March, Gal Gadot made a home video featuring over 20 stars singing (some were rather off-key) “Imagine” by John Lennon, while Harry Styles picked up Italian and sign language. The Biebers created a TikTok account to regale the world with their perfectly in-sync dance moves, Miley Cyrus attempted to cut her own bangs (serving Joe Exotic from Netflix’s Tiger King vibes), and entertainment magnate David Geffen was luxuriating on his opulent US$590 million superyacht in the Grenadines

Don’t expect any flamboyant quarantine antics or frivolous TikTok videos from Singaporean actor Elvin Ng. On the contrary, Elvin is appreciating the downtime in isolation with his family, finding joy in the simple things. The down-to-earth, self-confessed “mummy’s boy” gives us an insight into how he has been spending time at home and why the entire experience has positively enriched him. 

High Net Worth: What part of sheltering in place have you come to appreciate the most?

Elvin Ng: It’s been a really good time to take things slow, to take care of ourselves from the inside out and to give more attention to the things we may have taken for granted. This period has been great for family bonding, since we have always been so busy leaving the house early and coming home late. I have a big family and live together with my mum, sister, brother, sister-in-law, nephew, two nieces and our two helpers. We have been having more conversations over dinner and exercising as a family with our own Tabata workout regime. Personally, I have a lot more time for myself to reflect and to read. I have also been spending time gardening and looking after my fishes. Just before the circuit breaker, I used my SkillsFuture Credit to attend a property course.

Is there a book, a movie, an article, a conversation that has captured your attention lately?

I have never really had a chance to binge-watch TV shows, but I have been doing that! I fell in love with Money Heist and The 100. Money Heist is currently the most talked-about series in town, and I love how passionate and lively the characters are. The audience follows the antagonist on a harrowing journey and watches him escape danger. It is wonderfully written and the ingenious plot has many touching moments, which captures the romance, humour and the tragedy of life. The 100 is an American post-apocalyptic sci-fi series about humanity and war that focuses on how mankind copes in the face of adversity. After watching the show, I was inspired to revisit some of my past literature books from university like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Ender’s Game. These books got me thinking deeply about humanity in terms of how we should not be too obsessed with ourselves and are part of a larger order. I’ve been reading The Alchemist too.

Do you have a habit that you started during quarantine?

Over dinner one night, while we were overeating, my family thought that we should all start working out at home. And that was how we started our family Tabata workout comprising six four-minute sets of repetitions, with short breaks in between. We get one rest day every two to three days, and I  implemented a “fine” system if someone misses the workout without a proper reason. First-time offenders pay ten dollars, and subsequently, it’s twenty. So far, we have all been pretty disciplined; my brother and sister-in-law only had to fork out ten dollars. I’m like their instructor too—and would lay out their yoga mats and make sure everyone stays hydrated. I don’t usually work out at home, but it’s great to get my entire family on board. 

What is the easiest and hardest part about staying at home?

There is nothing hard about staying at home because I’m a homebody. In the past, even when I was busy, I still liked staying home. I don’t get lonely since I have a big family where everyone takes care of each other. The downside is the lack of social interactions with my friends. So, in order to show my love, I would order food and get it delivered to my friends and relatives.

What have you stocked up on since the pandemic? 

I’ve been stocking up on quite a huge amount of ice-cream and snacks for movie nights. Plus tea leaves, coffee capsules and chocolates because I have a sweet tooth! I am lucky that brands still send me adequate supplies of masks and hand sanitisers. 

Do you have a quarantine soundtrack, and does it reflect your mood?

I’ve been listening to the songs from Money Heist and The 100. All my music can be quite random, though I am more inclined towards soft rock, soulful R&B and classical music in light of how the world has slowed down. Of course, I’m also listening to our Tabata soundtrack that has been playing non-stop in our heads.

If you could social distance with just one person, who would that be and why?

It would be my mum! I take after her quite a fair bit. We are very similar, and I can talk to her about anything. Although we do quarrel and fight, I will always apologise and pamper her, because I’m her son. I’m very much a mummy’s boy. Given her current age, I would like to spend more valuable time with her, especially after the passing of my father eight years ago. 

Any family member or friend that you have been thinking about the most during the circuit breaker period?

I miss my five aunties a lot, and they are my mother’s sisters. They would come over to our house very often, and I miss having them over to eat, chat, gossip and drink.

Favourite quarantine outfit?

It would have to be comfortable pyjamas. You know those that are old and worn out. And slightly loose and tattered at the collar! I could wear them all day.

Best stay-at-home meal?

My sister is a wonderful cook, who puts her heart and soul in her food. She cooks four times a week for us and everyone enjoys her dishes like pasta, Korean chicken stew, baked salmon and her impromptu culinary experiments. Unfortunately, she likes to make dishes that are high in carbohydrates, so we have to work out more! We also organised two birthday barbecues at home.

Finally, what’s giving you hope now?

There is always something to be hopeful for. Even in the face of adversity, we have to be strong, stay positive and keep the faith that everything will get better.