Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gong Xi Fa Cai (Happy New Year)

The 6th and 7th of February this year were the first two days of the Chinese calendar. This new year is the biggest celebration in Singapore. These are the only two days in a year when most businesses close shop. Chinese dress in their finest clothes (mostly red) and pay visits to their elders on these days. It is customary for elders to give the unmarried youngsters money in a red packet as a form of blessing. This red packet is called Ang Pow. It is also considered auspicious to exchange mandarin oranges during the visits because of their deep orange colour which symbolises gold.

On the first day of the Chinese New Year, Gothupa, Atha Paati and I took Ashwin on the train to Boat Quay to sit by the river and eat sandwiches and icecream. Next to Ashwin in the train, there was a chinese girl about 4 years old with her mother. Ashwin was offered a candy by this girl and he accepted it without thanks because he was too shy. I chatted with this girl for a while and understood from her that I cannot have her pretty sandals because they were too small for me. Ashwin could not have it either because they were not boy boy shoes. She took out a book and a pen to sketch and of course, Ashwin copier her right away.

When the train attived at their destination, the girl gave Ashwin a kiss and her mother gave him an ang pow with $2 in it.

Candy, kisses and $2 ang pows, what's not to love about train journeys?!

My faith in humanity is restored.

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