Monday, January 26, 2009

Urgency bordering on desperation

Between reunion dinner and reunion coffee, June and I took Aunt Shirls to absorb the atmosphere of Chinatown on CNY eve.  This is the first time Shirls has dropped by to celebrate CNY with us, so we thought it would be most memorable if we plunged her straight into the heart of the dragon itself.

As expected, Chinatown was bursting at the seams with bargain hunters, last-minute shoppers and tourists. Human physical contact was frequent, limited mostly to shoulder charges and elbow jabs; though I must add in a non-threatening form, just enough to avoid traffic from seizing up altogether. Stallholders hawked their discount prices over portable amp systems adding to the general chaos and confusion.

We we there only from about 2000-2100, early enough to soak up the excitement without feeling a complete loss of control over the situation. Any later -- say around midnight -- all bets are off. By then, most people would have been done with their reunion dinners, and prices would have reached rock-bottom, triggering the buying frenzy of the patiently circling, milling, gathering crowd. No, we were long gone by then, the only purchase we made was a new pair of flip-flops to replace Shirls' shoes which were giving her blisters.

Must make a note of the public restroom facilities at Chinatown MRT which under no circumstances I would have even approached except in dire necessity. Surprisingly, despite the crowd and its urgency bordering on desperation, people arranged themselves within orderly queues behind their unit of choice and patiently bore out their turn.

My particular *ahem* need was for the cubicle, for which I had to wait a bit longer. Butt instead of the hellhole I was expecting I found myself in a clean, dry space with lots of TP to spare. Even the seat was spray-free, if a tad warm. It was a pleasant surprise because the crowd comprised a large proportion of people who do not have a particularly strong reputation for their toiletry habits. Perhaps it's time to rethink the stereotype.

Made it back to Dad's for the usual family coffee and riot to count down the new year.

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