The household vignettes: Chan household

April 2015, Melbourne, by Jolynna Sinanan

Stephen retired at 58 last year, but has since found himself bored at home. He found himself a part time job at McDonalds’ where he is now working shift work. Because of the erratic hours, he sleeps in the lounge room, where he mostly watches documentaries on YouTube on his iPad Mini. Stephen takes the bus to work and carries two phones with him most of the day. One phone is for regular contact with his family, for taking photos and sharing them on the family page on Facebook when they’re out and for chatting with his old friends in Malaysia. The other is a Nokia, which he likes for Windows Office, where he checks email and handles all of the family’s admin. The only thing he doesn’t do on that phone is internet banking, which he will only do from the family’s desk top in the study. Stephen visits his relatives and relatives in Malaysia around once every 18 months. When he goes overseas, he takes a third phone with him, which he will use with a local SIM.

Nancy is a stay-at-home mum. Her daughter Jessica calls her at least five times a week, to be picked up, when she arrives at the tram stop nearest to their house, on her way home from school. If Jessica wants to go out with her friends, she has to call first, Nancy has a ‘permission first’ policy, not a ‘let her know’ policy. Nancy and her husband Stephen don’t use locative apps with their daughter but they insist that she calls them to let her know when she’s with friends or not. They are more concerned when she’s by herself, when she’s in transit. Nancy knows the parents of most of Jessica’s friends, she is quite close to one of the other mothers and they chat over WhatsApp regularly. She sees her relatives in Singapore often and she chats over Skype and WhatsApp with them often. When she’s at home she is often on her tablet, she has just joined Pinterest for recipes and she follows a lot of food blogs.

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