CNY 2013

It’s been a while since I last wrote. Seeing as it is Chinese New Year (CNY), I thought I would share something my father shared with me.

On Saturday (the eve of CNY), while pumping gas, a woman came up to my father to sell cakes for RM$2. She pleaded with him to buy her cakes, as she needed money for her meal. My father has previously seen her around the market a few times, trying to sell her wares.

“I don’t want your cakes, but here’s some money.”

This woman’s situation reminded him of his own plight when he was younger. It was the eve of Chinese New Year’s eve in 1958. My Er Peh (second uncle), who was studying in Singapore then, had just returned home to usher in the New Year with the family. My Ah Neh (paternal grandmother), a seamstress, couldn’t get her then employer to pay her her rightful wage. She had to claim it, and yet, it fell on deaf ears. Determine to make a good New Year for her children, Ah Neh was forced to pawn off her eldest daughter’s gold bracelet. Er Peh, through much embarrassment, sadness and tears, had to hurry off to his friend’s pawn shop to pawn off the piece of jewelry.

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Experiencing Ueno

Finding Hatchbori

Disovering Kyoto

Day 7: April 4, 2012 Wednesday

Melodrama aside, I was actually sad leaving Kyoto…and exhausted. As we neared Tokyo, we caught sight of Mt. Fuji – separated by a glass on a moving bullet train!

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji – through the looking glass

The train pulled into Tokyo Station at 5pm. Back on familiar ground. We were back on familiar ground. How quickly the surroundings become comforting. We took the Keiyo line, switched to the Hibiya line and reached our next stop, Naka-okachimachi station. Taking the subway was no longer a scramble of coins and map. We were well-prepared.

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Discovering Kyoto

FINDING HATCHOBORI

Day 5: April 2, 2012 Monday

The next morning, after breakfast, we leisurely packed up (after the clueless hotel clerk told us getting to Tokyo Station on the Keiyo Line takes less than 10 minutes) and strolled to the train station. We barely made the bullet train, Shinkansen Hikari 新幹線 ひかり (ran by the JR Rail), and didn’t find our seats (13 cars later) until 15 minutes after the train left the station. The trip was purchased through Japanican.

Shinkansen

Shinkansen Bullet Train

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Finding Hatchobori

Day 1: March 29, 2012 Thursday

Our journey began from JFK and took us into the Land of the Rising Sun some 13-back-breaking-hours later.

At the airport, I could have sworn I saw Ninomiya-kun of Japanese boy band Arashi, and is known (to American audiences) for his portrayal as Private Saigo in the 2006 Letters from Iwo Jima and most recently Gantz.

Day 2: March 30, 2012 Friday

Maneuvering from Narita Airport to the heart of Tokyo was pretty simple and came with English instructions/speakers to aid. We took the Keisei Skyliner from Terminal 2 right into Ueno (40 minutes) without too much of a hiccup. However, once in the city, we were overwhelmed with signs, information in Japanese and the general bustle of the city. However, the people were helpful and understanding – even though it came down to signing.

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This is not Goodbye…

As you left the other day, I wanted to call out to you. But no words came out. Instead, tears just started flowing. Even the boisterous Dusty sat by my side, confused by the salt he tasted on my face. I reached for the phone, but I realize that talking to you will make things worse for you.

For selfish reasons, I want you here. I need you here. You can’t reappear in my life, and then leave. I want to believe something better is in the horizon. But this dull pain that causes these tears to flow uncontrollably cannot be consoled.

Who else would laugh at my silly one-sided jokes?

Who else would gallivant around the city with me for errands I have to run?

… and then stuff her face with me like we’ve not been fed for centuries?

…and after that, lug more food home?

Who else would stand in the cold with me?

…just for a chance of a bargain?

…or scout the city for toys?

Who else would spend the weekends watching dramas with me?

…and then proceed to discuss the hotness of each leading actor?

Who else would love Jessie and Dusty more than me?

…and clean their eye boogers for them?

Who else can I bicker with one minute, and the next be joking with?

Who else…?

I am a mess. Maybe if I dried out this well, I will be strong enough for you when you leave. I will send you off with a smile, and words of hope that we will one day be together again.

But who am I kidding? You’re the strong one, my pillar. The one I rely on.

We may no longer be 20 minutes by foot from each other, but 20 hours by flight; but our bonds will keep us close.

This is not goodbye.

姐, I will miss you.

Black Water Dragon 2012

As more than a billion Chinese usher in the new lunar year, the 4,710th of the Chinese calendar, to many, this year is a very special year. The year of the mystical dragon. This year, many Chinese families will try to add to their brood by producing a little baby dragon…God willing.

CNY 2012

Like years before, our 15 days of CNY has FOOD as the focal point. We started early, even before the eve with steamboat at our friend’s in NYC. We had a great time with the Chens and hubs got kid-handled by the children, which was hilarious. Thank you Chens! Your children are a blessing and absolutely precious.

Tonight, on the eve of CNY, we will spend the night having a “reunion dinner” of sorts with my dear aunt in Wayne. Thank you Lims for your hospitality and love! (Not to mention the scrumptious food awaiting us!)

Reunion Dinner Feast

Reunion Dinner Feast (L-R): Steamed Red Snapper, Baby Bok Choy with Fish Cake, Beef Rendang, KaiLan (?), Siew Yok, Ginseng Chicken stuffed with Glutinous Rice (missing from the pic Mushroom Chicken)

Chinese New Year, won’t be Chinese New Year without some drama.

I woke up on the first day to Dusty nose deep in dried yeast that my uncle gave me the night before. Not only was there sweeping involved, which I am not supposed to do for fear of sweeping away the fortune, but there were three loads of laundry done too. On top of that, we were at the vet’s to get the dog to throw up all the yeast.

Yeast is harmful/poisonous to dogs because their body can’t break down the yeast. Instead, it will continuously rise and cause the dog’s stomach to bloat until it explodes. If that doesn’t happen, there is a chance of alcohol poisoning too. What a day!

But we still ended up celebrating the day with lunch at Petite Soo Chow in Cliffside Park and sushi for dinner.

The Last Day

On their last morning in the US, I gave my parents my sister’s baby album. An array of emotions splash across their faces: from laughter, joy, love and finally tears.

It was two months since my parents came for the birth of their first grandchild, here on named AFD. She came unexpectedly early, on an unforgettable day: 9/11/11. Before their arrival, I was a hurried mess trying to straighten the place and make it half presentable.

AFD

Hey, I think I know you

My parents, who were not expected in Toronto until a week after, were quickly ushered off to Toronto. There, they spent a month caring not only for my younger sister, but cooing, doting on, and caring for AFD. One month came and went in a blink of an eye. Before long, hubs and I were up in Toronto too, to celebrate AFD’s full moon, a “coming of age” of sorts for the Chinese.
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獨一無二 Unrivaled: Omen(s)

All we wanted was a nice, exciting yet relaxing get-a-way with a concert as an added cherry on the cake. What we got was a harrowing, panicked-filled, mad dash to mark the unofficial end of summer.

My DC (大姐), who was recently introduced to Show Luo, aka Alan Luo, aka Luo Zhi Xiang (羅志祥) aka xiao zhu 小豬 (little pig) via his infamous drama Hi! My Sweetheart (海派甜心) became quite obsessed with him. She went from watching his dramas, to his talk show to tracking down his concert. As luck would have had it, he was throwing his 舞法舞天之一萬零一夜 (Dance with Limits Encore World Live Tour) concert in the Borgata Hotel and Casino at Atlantic City on Labor Day. What’s more, she sold it to me as a two for the price of one concert! Show Luo AND Vanness Wu. Not really convinced, but had nothing better to do, I agreed to go with her, and convinced hubs that HE needed some vaca time.

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Gone with the Wind: Living & Surviving

Was it just another hurricane? Or a wake up call?

Irene, unlike the hurricanes of yesteryear’s, brought much fury up the eastern coastline of US. Move west and it causes massive destruction and life lost. Shift to the right, and people and property are saved.  Or is this a leveling or some kind?

It mimics the current economic and political turmoil of this country, and the world. Everyone is in an economic downturn, a recession. If that is so, we are all equal then, aren’t we? Or is someone gaining?

The politicians of the world are stirring the pot. Japan changes PMs faster than a person changes clothes. US has a four-year-termed President, but even then, by the second-and-a-half -year, the foundation is shaken. And then you have Malaysia. The king is a puppet, ran by people who are not voted in by the majority, but profess to run on democracy. Their “ruling” runs for eternity. Is anyone or anywhere safe(r)?

A few days before Irene, we were busy hoarding water into tumblers, containers and pails. Lucky for us, we Chinese tend to have a stockpile of these vessels lying around. At times of emergencies like these, water becomes our greatest asset. What’s the world’s greatest asset?  Gold. Gold is the world’s trading commodity.

Just like that, we hoard and stockpile these items, which is turn causes the “unnatural” increase of value to them.

Of course, we then squirrel away as much food as possible. Who knows how long we will be imprisoned in our own homes. Our home is always filled to the brim with food. I have a pantry of canned foods, biscuits, pasta and junk food, two freezers filled with vegetables, fruits, dumplings, fish and chicken, and a pull-out pantry packed with instant noodles, rice, flour. Those who go hungry in my home is a lazy bum.

In the economic world, silver and platinum is their food of choice.

The next thing on the emergency list is light: matches, candles, torch-lights and batteries to power it. The world’s emergency cling-on is steel.

In times of destruction, we find friends, family and turn to God. On the other hand, the world clutches on to barrels of oil and bags of coffee. We pay for the latter, but not for the earlier.

Water, food and loved ones keeps us going and warms us to the core. Try sleeping with gold, silver, platinum, steel, oil and coffee.

I’m not trying to be a hypocrite. I know I need some sort of commodity in exchange for some nourishment and protection. But let’s not clamor for metals. Let’s find our warmth in each other. Let’s go back to the basics and be thankful for what we have.