Festive mood at City Square Mall

We went to Mustafa Centre at Serangoon Road in Little India today, to shop for some particular grocery items we like to get from the supermarket there. To get there we got off at Farrer Park MRT station. The exit  of the station is linked to the basement level of City Square Mall. When we left the mall we were greeted by a mini funfair of sorts, set up for the Chinese New Year season.

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I was impressed, especially since I didn’t see anything of this scale in terms of decoration by an individual mall when we were in Chinatown a couple of weeks ago. And here we were in Little India, where we found this big effort by City Square Mall. It’s so charming and cheerful.

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A massive and incredibly beautiful tangerine tree. There are two of these at the front entrance, and two more at a side entrance of the mall.

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When we were walking past this air slide, they were just beginning to have it blown up with a blower machine. I turned around barely a minute or two later and it was already all completely done. I didn’t know it was going to be that amazingly fast. It would have been fun to record it on video.

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There were also these gorgeous boards featuring all twelve animals of the Chinese Horoscope, with signboards featuring predictions of what’s in store this Year of the Horse.

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That’s my sign, going moo moo. Ox, or to be specific for those born in 1973, Water Ox. According to the prediction, it might suck to be me this Year of the Horse. I might even fall sick and everything. Dammit.

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I do love how the pink shades of the Indian lady’s elegant saree matches so well with the theme colour of the funfair. I also love how she’s nonchalantly rocking the grey in her hair, with a girlish ponytail! And that pretty pink on her! Surely it indicates a fun spirit. Effortless chic.

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This post is Day 16 of ‘100 Happy Days‘.

Happy meter: cheery

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Our Reunion Dinner

It was so nice to be part of my friend’s important dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year. Usually Chinese families around the world get together for their Reunion Dinner. Last night, Bethany was unable to be with her family except for her son, and it was sweet of her to extend the invitation so that we may join in their celebration.

For starters we had Chawanmushi, a savoury egg custard dish in a cup. It’s Japanese, but just something Bethany was good at making and we all love so why not. It was delicious. So light and fluffy.

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Chawanmushi steamed for about 10 to 15 minutes

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It can be made with a variety of fillings. Here we had slices of mushroom, prawn and crab meat.

After that the fun and feasting with the steamboat and teppanyaki began. Bethany prepared the entire dinner by herself, and there was so much food. We were so touched because she does not have guests over for meals very often because she is often too busy working. We were so well fed and I’m still stuffed, hours after the meal.

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By the time dessert was brought out I had forgotten to snap a photo of it, because I was too busy groaning about how full I was, although I did finish my bowl (haha). It’s a shame I forgot to photograph it because it was another thing she cooked from scratch. It was a delicate sweet soup that Bethany said is a Hongkong recipe. I think it’s this dish I found online. Although it looked different somewhat, the ingredients are very much the same.

Happy Lunar New Year!

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This post is Day 8 of ‘100 Happy Days‘.

Happy meter: Happily stuffed

Happy Chinese New Year

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Photo of the Ke Lok Si Temple in Penang, Malaysia, by ‘Flying Pharmacist’; source: Wikipedia

Also often referred to as the Lunar New Year as the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, it is the most important of traditional Chinese holidays.  Celebrations traditionally ran for 15 days from the New Year itself till the Lantern Festival on the 15th day.

In Singapore, as it is in neighbouring Malaysia and Brunei, it is a 2-day public holiday.

2013 is the Year of the Snake (the departing year is Dragon). Jean Guo writes in The Epoch Times that:

Since the snake sometimes is negatively associated with traits like slyness, craftiness, and evil, the Year of the Snake is occasionally referred to as the Year of the Junior Dragon or Earth Dragon.

In addition to the 12-year cycle of Zodiac animals, there is a 10-year cycle of elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. These elements are also associated each year with a yin and a yang element, so a water year may be either a yang water year or a yin water year. Altogether, it takes 60 years to cycle back to the exact same Zodiac animal, element, and yin and yang combination.

Sydney Fong of the blog Add Grain On Earth wrote about a fascinating Chinese New Year legend, about a mythical beast called Nian who would attack villagers and how they realised they could rid of him with things like the colour red and fireworks, and that’s how the tradition for these things started.

I’m in Johor Bahru right now, and as I write this at a little after 8pm on the Eve of the New Year, I can already hear the neighbours steadily starting off bits of firecrackers and fireworks one after another. I guess their traditional Reunion Dinner is over and the kids (and adults alike) are keen to start the fun. This will go on till late into the night for the first few days, and for the following few weekends too. It’s fun seeing them have fun and these people know how to have a good time. My goodness, I’ve witnessed some neighbours launch fireworks from their front yard. Crazy! And rich! Those things cost a lot of money, especially since typically they launch not one or two or ten but a steady stream that goes on for quite a long time. It’s thrilling to watch.

In Singapore, one of the major things we have as part of Chinese New Year celebrations is the Chingay Parade (Ticket details here). From Your Singapore:

Singapore celebrates Chinese New Year with Chingay, Asia’s grandest street parade of resplendent floats and an extravaganza of sights and colours, for the 41st time this year. This annual event features a dazzling visual spectacle of live multicultural local and international performances in addition to fiery fireworks over two unforgettable days at the F1 Pit Building.

Chingay 2013 will take place on 22 and 23 February. Beautifully themed as “Fire in Snow”, it presents a dazzling spectacle of fire as a symbol of bravery, resilience and determination against a spectacular snow scene. The six-part segment will involve 10,000 performers from 120 organizations. Be captivated as the 360-metre long parade route transforms into an ‘ocean of fire’ with 1,000 burning used woks and pots to honour the resilient spirit of Singaporeans.

Sounds grand indeed!