2021/Week 7

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Not sure how it is in the part of the world you live in, but where I am, Chinese New Year is the biggest social event on the calendar. Of course, I know this quite well now after living in Singapore for more than a couple of years now. But I didn’t know how big a deal it is when many years ago, I was in Malaysia for a business conference after which I had planned to go travelling around the country. Instead of taking a flight, I had decided to travel by road for a better experience. It was only on reaching the bus stop that I realised that there were no buses available. A sea of people was waiting to get a seat on any available bus. It was the eve of Chinese New Year, and the closest image that came to my mind was the time when I was in college and how the railway station platform at Aligarh used to look like when it was time to go home for Eid. Well, I did end up reaching my destination, not that day but the next, missing the last ferry, staying the night in tiny but clean room at a bus stop.

Remembering that time, it feels somewhat sad that the celebrations have been so subdued this year. Which is how every festival has become now. CNY last year was also that unofficial before and after date when things started spiralling out of control. Till then, it was something in “faraway” China, it wasn’t even something that was being thought of as an epidemic yet.