OK. Don’t panic. It is not as though I have not celebrated Chinese New Year in Singapore before. Like that one year I had to hunt for oranges at the very last minute after discovering that it is the tradition here to pass the oranges around. Or that year … erm … to be honest, I don’t recall that many times I have spent the holiday in Singapore. Last year, Cynthia and I were in Melbourne. The year before we were in Hong Kong. This year, since our plan A road trip to Malaysia doesn’t work out, time to execute plan B.
I pulled out a large piece of paper this morning and pondered what I needed to do next. I wrote down: spring cleaning, red couplets (揮春) for decoration and good luck, and stocking up the refrigerator. Since I have already done spring cleaning prior to Cynthia’s mother arrival, that is one headache off my list. I stared at ‘red couplets’ and since Cynthia planned to visit Chinatown with her mother in the morning, I delegated this wonderful task to her. Except she can’t read nor speak Chinese at all.
First, Cynthia sent me a picture of a rat in cartoon format via MMS and asked if I wanted it. I repeated that I only wanted either one single character (I wrote the word 福 that means ‘luck’ to her beforehand) or pairs of 4 characters. Then came the 2nd MMS with tons of red couplets. Bingo! Another headache’s down.
I was pretty relax over the last item until I started to hear from my friends at my workplace all the horror stories of last minute grocery shopping in Singapore. No way I am going to starve myself over the CNY! Besides, I so planned to make the best out of plan A and cook some delicious dishes for Cynthia and her mother. I even planned to invite my sister over for the first time ever brother-and-sister bonding over CNY here in Singapore! This is big, so big that I must have sounded pretty stressed up until my friend ST kept reminding me to relax and don’t get stress.
This afternoon, on the way to the-mother-of-all-NTUC at AMK Hub, I have literally converted my car into a war-room not unlike what the US President does inside Air Force One. I was shouting out the name of the dishes into the air and Cynthia captured a list of what we needed to buy on a piece of paper. It has to be a decisive strike. We have to know our exact targets and we have to … like Bush once said … smoke them out!
AMK Hub was packed with last minute shoppers. As I saw trolleys full of NTUC bags leaving the hypermarket, I couldn’t help but to think-out-loud: there goes my chicken! There goes my vegetable! And there goes my … I was thinking out so loud that Cynthia has to calm me down. My breathing went deeper, my heart beat faster, my head went lighter, and into the war zone we entered.
Inside NTUC was a total chaos. Shoppers were grabbing everything they saw. I went to the meat rack and there were only a few packets left. When the meat trolley came out, I couldn’t bother to look at the list that was composed back at Air Force One. I didn’t even care what sort of meat it was. It was either pork belly or pork chop or nothing. In any given day, I would not consider either. Today, we fought for survival. I went to the poultry section and must have grabbed the last few chickens left in Singapore. Cynthia asked why I bought two chickens. I replied, “Don’t think, just grab.” I was not the only one who was going crazy, everyone was going crazy. The last time I was having this euphoric feeling was inside the factory outlets in US. I was going crazy with my friend grabbing all the clothes we could see. I saw live fish inside the tank and I asked for one. The reply was, “Sorry Sir, this section is closed and we are unable to have the fish cleaned and gutted for you. Do you still want one?” I was stoned for a while with the scenes of me killing a fish running through my head again and again and I told Cynthia, “I know I can do it!”. She reminded me that a live fish was not in our list.
I have bought a trolley full of stuffs that were not in our list! Oh well, Cynthia was right. We could do without a fish.
How could Cynthia be so calm?!