Monday, January 26, 2009

And a happy Moo year!

Whether you're temporarily back in the loving circle of family in the homeland,

or recovering from a surfeit of home-made macadamia pralines brought on by an overzealous sister-in-law's festive food gift,

or shivering over a homemade steamboat for one in the wintry Northern Hemisphere...

I hope you'll have a hoof-stompin' start to another great year.

Me? I am not any more homesick than usual (which is to say, not any less homesick, either). I've seen more Chinese New Year decorations in the city, non-Chinese-populated parts included, than you might expect. The only difference is that every shopping mall I step into, driven by the heat into the embrace of free air-conditioning, is not pulsing with the sounds of the classic Chinese New Year soundtrack led by 'Cai Shen Dao' followed by 'Gong Xi Ni, Gong Xi', in an assortment of dialects and accompanied with any number of cymbals and gongs. That pushes the list of New Year thanksgivings up a notch.

This New Year season is definitely different from the childhood ones spent in Penang, days that whizzed by yielding an average of at least 3.4 lions, a dozen butter cookies, a couple dozen chocolate chip, and countless Melting Moments and pineapple tarts each. Not to mention Grandma's very traditional Hokkien cherry cheese squares, my aunt's matchless sugee cake, and that jelly thing that is apparently nothing more than coagulated egg white and sugar. The staccato blasts of firecrackers that sent plump housecats racing for the nearest dark corner, tails afluff and claws on alert. The noisy family steamboats, the New Year's Day breakfast of vegetarian noodles with real veggies and mock everything else, the drives around the island in search of relatives, more cookies, more laughter, shade, an icy-sugary-red-bean-sweet-corn-grass-jelly-attap-seed-bedecked something to bring core temperatures down before the whole family melted into a puddle of festively dressed sludge.

But it's not all different, oh no. I haven't walked into a negative of my life back home. Because the heat, folks, the heat is just the same. I am still wondering where I can get a good-quality icy-sugary-red-bean-and-everything-else something to bring the core temperature down before I melt down into a puddle of sludge, festively dressed or otherwise. Forty-degree weather should be outlawed.

Happy New Year again, and just in case you were wondering, this isn't the lion dance from last night. That was a little chaotic and shot too close up, but in keeping with the season, I thought this clip from the Shanghai junket I took two years ago would do.

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