Today is new moon and also World Turtle Day. A critically endangered hawksbill turtle was sighted coming onto Singapore shore to lay her eggs.
She spent about 2 hours on the East Coast Park beach before covering her contributions with sand and swimming out to sea.
This evening I received gifts of fruits, bread, noodles & soup.
Around this time in 2011, Ron and I took our first trip to Nepal.
It was the mango season then.
It is not something to be taken for granted that the same friend who lugged mangoes back to our hotel that day sent me mangoes this evening 9 years later.
I remember vividly Ron & I eating mangoes by the dusty window of Hotel Harati in Thamel in silent gratitude as cars honked madly on the street below.
This stay home imposition has provided me the grounding I need to recall & process lots of stuff.
May the new moon open our eyes to see our own buried past clearly, so that we can gather compassion & wisdom to move forward. And as the scales fall off our eyes in the new moon light, may we develop the courage to look at our own movies, instead of just the ones on Netflix.
May the new moon also refresh our ears even as our mouths are masked shut, so that we can listen better to ourselves and to others, before we speak.
With the nation wide restrictions on human movements and activities, I wasn’t sure if flowers would still be available at the supermarket near my home.
Medical safety aside, getting dressed and donning a mask to make that walk in our humid weather did threaten my flower offering practice.
But I finally made the flower trip while being fully aware that it might turn out to be a “wasted” one.
Outside the supermarket, the styrofoam box that was used to contain the jasmines was empty except for the crushed ice that was meant to keep the flowers fresh.
The bouquets on sale were too large for the vases at home and it looked like I was going home “empty handed.”
Oh well…at least I got to buy new sponges for the sink and some bread, dried fruits and nuts, I thought to myself as I reluctantly accepted the reality of my unproductive trip.
As I made my way home, I turned to take one last look at the bouquets, hoping I could perhaps find a smaller one.
It was then I spotted a burly man showing great interest in the empty styrofoam box, much like what I did earlier on.
Burly Man wore dark clothes and had industrial shoes on. He looked like one of those container truck drivers, not someone you would associate with flowers, especially jasmines.
He gesticulated at the cashier with great familiarity to ask where the jasmines were. The latter made a quick dash to someone inside the supermarket.
Before long, a young male staff appeared, cradling a large bag of packed with little packets of jasmines & showed them to Burly Man. Both men smiled widely at the treasured florals & exchanged pleasantries.
By then, Burly Man knew I was also looking to buy jasmines and garlands, if they were available.
As the packets of jasmines rained down into the styrofoam box, Burly Man helped me sort out the garlands which were in limited supply from the unstrung ones, while picking a few packets for himself.
I paid for the garlands for Ganesha, for Avaloki and for St Francis, and thanked Burly Man for getting the jasmines out of cold storage for me.
Burly Man will never know he had played such an important role in a stranger life’s yesterday.
His timely appearance assured me that making “inconvenient journeys” without the certainty of their outcomes, except that they be a gesture of commitment, must be done even when things don’t pan out the way I hope or want.
This week little pink buds in clusters of fours are appearing quietly on the palm sized plant that I received during the lunar new year this January.
“Clusters” has taken on an ominous tone these days, so I hope seeing clusters of flowers helps to provide some balance.
3 days ago the super pink moon graced the night sky even as residents in Singapore retreated indoors to avoid Covid-19.
And on that full moon night among the pink buds and under the pink moon, I sat up with Grace, my 13-year-old cat.
She had suffered rat glue trapping in her kittenhood while living on the streets of Little India and endured spaying and dental surgeries after her rescue. Now in her old age she had to battle blindness and ill-health.
Her life hadn’t been great in the normal sense, but she was loved, treated for her discomforts and had outlived the vet’s projection of her life span by 11 years.
After a final drink of honey water to quench her thirst and in anticipation of a sweet rebirth, eye drops on her eyes to regain her sight in the life to come, and a brief cuddle, Grace left her body without struggle.
The stars were sparkling that night as I lit a butter lamp to give thanks for her easy passing and to guide her home. 善终 meaning a peaceful death is one of the 5 blessings (五福）
Yesterday on Maundy Thursday, Grace’s ashes came back to me in a small porcelain urn.
Amidst the restrictions of physical movements, sufferings of loss and shortages of tangible goods, I hope that acceptance of whatever we’re facing will also allow compassion to flow, so that our heart can expand a little & we can breathe a bit easier, even as our body retreats temporarily from the outside world.
Over the weekend, after the Singapore government raised the alert to Code Orange in response to the evolving situation regarding the novel coronavirus, there was a rush to stockpile food supplies and essentials.
Last Saturday (8Feb), as I was waiting for a taxi in the east to take me home in the west, I deliberated on whether I should also stop by the supermarket to replenish some of my regular supplies that were running low.
I avoid eating out as much as possible. The queuing, carrying of my own tray and looking for a seat in food places will neutralise whatever nutrients any purchase promises to give me. People like me don’t need any outbreak to eat in. 😊
In the midst of my rumination, a taxi appeared in the distance. I flagged it down quickly as I had been waiting for some time.
When it pulled up, I realised it was a 6-seater space wagon!
I got on the cavernous vehicle despite knowing the trip would cost me more than the usual. The driver had made the effort of switching from the outer lane to stop for me. It would be unfair of me to decline the ride.
And as if reading my mind, the Indian driver cheerfully announced that his type of taxi ride will cost more because it is for group travellers with luggage.
“But don’t worry. U just sit. I know where to take you so that you can get a normal cab easily,” he suggested in a loud, booming voice, much to my surprise.
He then dropped me off at Kinex Mall taxi stand, and jocundly refused to accept any payment. Instead, he thanked me for blessing him when I wished him safety and good health.
After he drove off, I decided to make the best of his kindness by exploring the mall a bit to see if I could get some health supplements for my cats and find a quiet supermarket to replenish my noodle stock.
Next to rice & pitta bread, longevity noodles (mee sua or somen) is my favourite emergency food. And ever since I had tasted the ones from Kinmen Island, I’ve been hoping to find them in Singapore.
To my delight, the basement of Kinex Mall not only had a pet shop, but also a very peaceful & well stocked supermarket that devoted entire two rows of its shelves to imported groceries from Taiwan!
So among the Taiwanese snacks, staples & condiments, I finally had a reunion with my beloved noodles from Kinmen!
Considering that day was the 15th day of the Lunar New Year (full moon reunion) and Thaipusam, a very significant observance among South Indian Tamil Hindus, it was more than luck that a Chinese woman would be assisted by an Indian man to go to an unfamiliar shopping mall where she could buy noodles produced in her ancestors’ birth place.
The encounter with the Indian driver leading to the noodle discovery has given me the assurance to buy just enough for my needs, and to resist the urge to buy more because of the fear of not having enough, the greed of wanting more and the arrogance that I could afford them.
And I’m amazed to read that Thaipusam marks Lord Murugan’s victory over fear, greed and arrogance. 🙏