The dreaded Chinese New Year is fast approaching; dreaded not because I fear the festival itself but what accompanies it – crazy traffic jams in the expressways, packed shopping malls and hawkers taking long breaks. Still, we put ourselves through this just to be close to loved ones living far away on this auspicious occasion.
There was one year we were crawling in the North-South Expressway for five hours from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh on a journey that usually took only two hours. What made it worse was that most of the rest stops along the expressway were chock-full of travellers and two very annoyed cats confined in their carriers with us in the car. Good thing they had the sense to hold their bladders until we reached Ipoh.
Many hawkers also like to close their businesses for up to a week during the Chinese New Year holidays. Looking for food during this time is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Finding one does not signify luck of the new year. Hawkers opened during this festive season have no qualms in adding a RM1 surcharge to each single serving. The justification is that they have to work on such an important occasion. They are cutthroats notheless.
Complaints aside, I look forward to the Chinese New Year for the opportunity to be among the warmth of family, share meals together and the general air of festivity. Wuan has been sprucing up the house with festive decorations and made me buy new clothes and shoes to herald in the change of season. This makes the sense of anticipation even more. Most of all, the Chinese New Year was the happiest occasion when I was a child. I am hoping to recapture some of those memories and exhilaration of years long gone this year.