It started with me taking my flight back home. It was not a great flight, because I teared almost the whole journey and I wouldn't be surprised if the passenger next to me reported me of suspicious act. I just can't help it. This is the first time I am heading back home when my Dad is no longer there to pick me up. Every time I return home, he was sure to be there, at the arrival hall, waiting - but not this time. And this will be the first time I celebrate Chinese New Year without father. And I felt bad because I was feeling sad because of my own reason, not his.
Nonetheless, the sky was really very beautiful and that was the reason I was oscillating between sad and calm. It was a peculiar feeling.
And soon after the arrival, the mood was drifted towards the preparations. Because of the situation, our family was not celebrating much. So, everything was kept to the minimal. And I realize there was something good in this because you started to get some time to see what everyone else was doing. It is like feeling the celebration through others. We got to see colourful flowers everywhere, boxes of manadarins piling up to the sky. And I met those hawker uncle and aunties whom I grew up with. There is this auntie whom we bought our economic beehoon every Sunday morning before piano lessons. It was a simple meal but very nice!
As night comes, the whole Jalan Raja Uda was lit up with 'tanglungs' - or rather, lanterns. And not to mention, the increasingly heavy traffic!
For normal days, we stayed at home and chilled, while enjoying our time together as much as possible. Unlike Singapore, the weather in Penang for Chinese New Year are always hot! It just so happened that the little bamboo in my house was flowering. My mum told me that's because the weather was too extreme, I wondered if she was right. Despite that, we cooked most of our meals because commercial vegetarians are not that pleasant when you're going to eat it every meal. I was introduced to this vegetarian oyster sauce which made wonders.
And when we went to EconSave, there were people choosing vegetables and mandarins. The mandarins were cheap there - and sweet too! And this is obviously not a popular choice at this season. Chinese usually avoid eating bitter gourd during Chinese New Year as that indicates hardship or bitter experiences. Superstition or not - I can guarantee they are bitter.
And there's always this cool rows of spices. Just by passing them makes you high because of the fragrances. I would sneeze a little usually. They're part of the essence of the dishes as those who cook would know how different combination of spices can churn up different type of smell and taste. This, good stuff.
So this is part of preparation for Chinese New Year!