Day 2 – Rhythm and Foodpanda

It is the 6th of October, it is 7:30 am and again my phone alarm went of like the day before. My eyelids feels much better than the day before, and feel loaded with positive energy! I look around me and admire the “Sports and Activity center” that I created in the middle of room, my room. It feels more and more like my home. Yesterday it was my first full day in Quarantine, and I know today will be a similar day. Right now, I know I have some clear anchor points in my schedule:

  • 7:30 am: Pick-up and enjoy breakfast
  • 8 am: Measure my body temperature and submit it to the System
  • 10 am: Receive text message from the Police and reply with a 1, 2 or 3
  • Around 12 pm: Pick-up and enjoy lunch
  • Around 5 o’clock: Pick-up and enjoy dinner
  • 8 pm: Measure my body temperature and submit it to the System

Every day the same schedule, for the next 12 days. It reminds me of Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. In that movie he wakes up every day with the ‘I Got You Babe’ song and lives that day for many many times. Biggest difference between Phil and me, is that Phil can go outside and I cannot. On the positive note, for me it is only 14 days a similar day, for him it feels like an endless ride of the same day, and at a certain time, he even tries to commit suicide with the groundhog in the car. Back to the anchor points, for me these points are like a rhythm, clockwork that I appreciate very much during these days.

I open my door and discover that the breakfast has already been delivered. I try to enjoy the breakfast and am thinking about a suggestion that I have received from some one: Foodpanda. About 6 years ago, when I was spending a fair amount of time in New York City, I saw the first advertisements of Uber Eats in the subway. At that time it felt like a business at the right time and the right place. About a year later I visited Oslo, Norway for a customer project. While I was eating with my colleague in a local restaurant, the front door opened a couple of times to let the ‘Foodora’ delivery person pickup the food to be delivered to their customer. I remember that I thought: how convenient for a Norwegian to order your food from a lazy chair and enjoy it at home! Of course, home delivery was not new to me, but in The Netherlands, only specific types of restaurant offer that service. And those kind of restaurants serve ‘comfort food’ like pizza, French fries or some snacks, no healthy alternatives. It felt again, the food delivery business was there at the right time! Some months later I was in Taiwan and discussed with a friend the rise of these kind of platforms. I remember that he mentioned that he would be very surprised if that business model is going to work in Taiwan. Especially because the food in Taiwan is relatively inexpensive compared to New York City or Oslo. Right now, it is 2020, and it feels like every city is addicted to this new lifestyle: browse for food, order it, get it delivered and enjoy it. It fits perfect in the current frame of almost instant satisfaction. Don’t need to ‘work’ for your food, just be lazy and order it. Of course, I agree, it can be a great option in specific situations, and it probably generates more jobs, but I am not sure if we as humanity go in the right direction with this new lifestyle. On the other hand, I am locked up, like many others here in Taiwan and I cannot go to a restaurant, grocery store, coffee shop or even a convenient store. For these situations, a delivery platform makes sense, make perfect sense!

I downloaded the Foodpanda app, subscribed and I am browsing to the products they offer. There is a plethora of products ranging from dog food, single-use underwear, telephone cases, religious paper money, body temperature scanners to coffee. Let stick to the coffee. I decided to test the Foodpanda system and ordered 2 coffee and a tea egg. A tea egg, is an egg that has been cooked in mixture of tea, soy sauce and all kinds of spices. The complete order including delivery is less that about 4 USD. After submitting the order, the app informs me that delivery is expected within 20 minutes. Within the timeframe provided, I hear someone walking outside my room, knocking on the door. I opened the door, and in front of me I see a white plastic bag with ‘Taipei City’ on it. I bring the bag inside and carefully open it. Unfortunately, the tea egg seems to me more like a coffee and tea egg, because it is soaked in the coffee that was spilled from one of the cups. I transfer the dripping egg to my desk and enjoy it with the ‘American’ coffee. For a European person like me, an American coffee is really like the last resort if you are dying for a cup of coffee. It tastes, and actually is, a very diluted cup of coffee. Why do people want to destroy the real flavour of a cup coffee? Just to pump up the beverage so it appears that you can offer ‘more’ to your customer? Yes size does matter, but quality too!

I try to understand Foodpanda’s business model: delivery charges are very small, prices of the products are similar as in the real shops. My, short sighted, conclusion is that they probably loose money at the moment and just want to grow their platform, till everyone is hooked to the System, eat less ‘outside the door’ and then something happens with the prices and thus their profit. They probably raised a ton of venture capital money, that they are burning at the moment. I try to think who are the biggest losers in this delivery platform ‘game’.

Nevertheless, Foodpanda worked fine for me, and I am definitely going to use it more during my stay here. However, I do not think I need to order single-use underwear. Quarantine might change someone’s mind, so you never know.

In the afternoon I force myself to start again my Chinese course from the book ‘A Course in Contemporary Chinese 2’, and discovered again that you need to practice a language every day otherwise it will fade away, like the fog fading away in the morning in the deep mountain area to be replaced by a clear blue sky. I forgot to bring a pencil from home to make notes in the book, but luckily I can order a pencil with my next Foodpanda delivery. I also brought e-book, from Boox, which I still use and love every single day. It is a A5 sized Android tablet with electronic ink, which makes it a very pleasant device to read from. Furthermore, you can make notes like writing with a pen on a notebook. You can even press a button to share the notes with a QR code to anyone. I wish they had a A4 version that you could bend like a real notebook.

Talking about books, I brought the book ‘My Country and My People’ written by dr. Lin Yutang. It was published in 1935, before the Cultural Revolution in China. At that time, Taiwan was part of Japan. The book is a classic and gives a unique insight into life in China, and in particular the differences between China and the West. I love to schedule some time to read this book, and share some of my thoughts of the book.

This evening I joined a live stream from, a Dutch Fashion Producer & Casting Director. Her daughter had to be quarantined for 14 days this year in Canada and recommended me to watch the Netflix Series ‘Emily in Paris’ while doing sport exercises. I watched an episode and it reminds me of the ‘Lost in Translation’ movie: a person from a different country and culture is living temporarily in a complete different environment, and doesn’t really understand and get that new environment. I am also living a life now far away from home. I definitely will watch more episodes while jumping rope. Thanks Chantal for the useful tip! From that point of view, it is amazing, that I am here far away from home, and can join a live stream in Paris, make a connection with a person and get some useful information how to get through my quarantine here. Most people are social animals, and we need to have our social interactions to stay happy. I think about all the elderly people locked up in their retirement homes during this Coronavirus pandemic, almost isolated from the rest world. Probably the majority of them, does not know how to connect to a live stream and have very limited social interactions. I feel so fortunate that I can connect to live streams here in my hotel, and travel within a blink from Taiwan to Paris, France or Chiang Mai, Thailand. Thank you Periscope. Thank you so much!

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