The Chinese zodiac works on a cycle of 12 years, with an animal alloted to each year in this order (clockwise) :
I was born in the Year of the Snake two cycles ago (yes, that means I’m 24 this year) . Now, you would think that if I’m a Snake and this year is my year, it would be something of a good luck year, right?
Almost everywhere you look, this year’s forecast for Snakes is simply bad. Some fengshui masters just put it out there plainly (“There may not be many romances; getting married this year is not advised”), while some try to sugarcoat their words by emphasizing on whatever few good stakes there are for us Snakes (“Your wealth is related to people contacts and relations; the harder you work, the more you make”).
Now, before you assume that I’m Chinese (if you haven’t read or don’t fully absorb my little bio on the right-side column of my blog), let me set things straight: I’m not. My 8th-and-beyond generations of ancestors may be from the ancient land of emperors and dragons (as my cousin had revelled in when she took part in National Geographic’s Genographic Project) but as far as retrievable memory serves us, my entire family – including my mother’s and father’s families – is native to the Malay Archipelago region of South-east Asia. But being in multi-cultural Singapore, I cannot help but bask in the differences that gives my country this unique blend of colours, aromas, tastes and beliefs. I don’t actually believe in the horoscope – it’s against my religion to believe in horoscopes – but it’s a fun thing to note anyway. Especially when, after 16 years in the education system, I can notice for myself the differences in the collective attitude, mindset and behaviour of people born in the same year. Let me explain.
When I was in Primary 6, a time when most of us were all too absorbed in being ourselves, my batch of classmates and friends were quite disliked by my primary school teachers and the principle. We were a rowdy and uncontrollable bunch in their eyes, when all we were doing was having fun and doing what we want instead of what others wanted out of us. I did note that the previous batch of Primary 6 students were a much more studious and school-rules-accomodating bunch than we were, almost as incomparable as night and day. In the years after our graduation from primary school, my batch was touted as the “worst batch of Primary 6 ever encountered” by most of the teachers.
This pattern, or should I say bad reputation, seemed to follow me and all those in the same batch/year as me all the way through to my tertiary years. We were always the “worst” ones in the eyes of the teachers, collectively described as “troublemakers”, “ostentatious”, “loud”, “vain”, and best of all “seem to enjoy flying by the seat of their pants.” While we were as good as devils, our one-year seniors were always getting praised as if they were angels, being “hardworking”, “reserved” and “good leaders.” For many years I saw this as pure coincidence in and of itself, but recently I realised this coincidence also coincided with what the Chinese horoscope had to say about us. Just a few hours ago I read somewhere that “the Snake is the Yin to last year’s Dragon Yang“. Well, that explains everything!
The Lunar New Year of 2013 was coming around, and Chinatowns all over the world weren’t going to be spared the decorations and bazaars, lucky year or not. I decided to make a trip down to the only Chinatown accessible to me to immerse myself in the festive atmosphere.
I have to ask you to pardon my photographs; I would’ve filed this post under Photography if I hadn’t taken so few and such horrible photos. I used to work in a landscape architectural office within the Chinatown district for a little over a year, and having been so familiar with the sights, my senses were dulled when it came to taking shots that capture the essence of the place, and of the street bazaars. I did, though, try a new perspective that I’ve always wanted to attempt – the view from the corridors of a public residential block.
Almost-aerial views of mostly low-levelled areas are always fun, especially when flanked by tall buildings/formations in the background.
Lunar New Year this year fell on the 10th of February. In Singapore, the first two days of the Lunar New Year are marked as public holidays, and since this year’s first day fell on a Sunday, there was a third day given as in-lieu! It was a nice long weekend for many of us. And even though I’m not Chinese, I was invited to visit some of my Chinese friends’ houses, as per their customs. I brought a pair of mandarin oranges and exchanged them with the house owners. And because I’m not married, I was entitled to some red packets filled with money! In my own Malay custom, once someone is of working adult status, he/she wouldn’t receive anymore customary gifts of money (ours are in green packets) regardless of whether he/she is married or not. So I’m really thankful for my Chinese friends who had me over at their place!
Happy Lunar New Year 2013; may the Year of the Snake bring you much prosperity and joy (regardless of what the astrologists say)!