Weeks 63 - 67: The Year of the Pig
(03/08/07)

I know that, in many of these updates, I tend to go on and on and on ad nauseam about certain aspects of our Singaporean life, to the point, I am confident, that many a reader has collapsed on a fragile keyboard in ennui-induced slumber. But some topics are near and dear to my heart, and simply cannot be escaped. 

For example: although I rationally fear the infamous black spitting cobra, it is as much a part of my life here in Asia as this equatorial republic's oppressive heat and humidity. I can't stop talking about it, because it is always on my mind - particularly when I stroll around beautifully landscaped areas with dense shrubbery and excessive shadows. Also omnipresent in the murky depths of my feeble brain is Singapore's fabulous cultural diversity, and it is about this belabored subject that I am thinking tonight. Because I am pretty sure the schools in Texas did not have a Chinese New Year parade this week.

About an hour before school was dismissed Friday, right before the official end of the lunar year, all of the students in the primary school gathered in a very hot courtyard, dressed in and sweating through their newly purchased traditional Chinese attire, armed to the hilt with a staggering array of noise-making paraphernalia, including what must be the school's full collection of pots, pans, and wooden spoons. They lined up and paraded behind a group of excessively tolerant teachers who banged a surprisingly hypnotic rhythm on a gigantic wheeled gong, while they vigorously employed the noisy tools they were given. All in all, I think they circled their area of the school at least twice. The bangy-clangy noise and the beautiful colors, the celebratory hats and the happy little faces - so excited to be able to scream and yell with no fear of shushing - it was all wonderful. 

And our own celebration of the new lunar year was wonderful as well. Because we so completely blew it last year, with all of the cleaning and swearing and early to-bed-going, we decided to try to do it up right this time; and we were fortunate enough to be invited to a glorious new year's eve dinner party with the dear friends we have made over here. I must admit, there was, in all likelihood, a modicum of profanity involved, due to an entertaining intersection of wine and political discourse; but there was definitely no cleaning, and we stayed up way past midnight. I believe, despite my headache the following day, that we all did a splendid job ushering out the Year of the Dog, and welcoming in the Year of the Pig. Plus, all of our heated conversations were pretty loud, so I'm sure we scared away any evil spirits foolish enough to be lurking around the party house.

We did not make it to Chinatown this year, but we all got to go on a kindergarten field trip to the little wet market in our neighborhood, where we saw a full range of new year's preparations and accessories, from the tradition pussy willow stalks to firecrackers, read and gold clothing and household decorations, oranges, chocolates, a variety of dragon forms, and a thousand other things. 

It is such an amazing experience to be a part of something so culturally different, and when we move back to Texas, our exposure to faiths and traditions unlike our own is one of the things I will miss the most. While I have lamented the loss of traditional American holidays like Thanksgiving and Independence Day (although Singapore has it's own independence Day - National Day), I have enjoyed the local celebrations we have been so fortunate to see here in Singapore. Wouldn't it be great if the Texas school system did a little something to celebrate Buddha's birthday, or the end of Ramadan... 

Take care,
Shannon et al.

******************

2007: The Year of the Pig

"The Year of the Pig is of special significance to people born in 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995 and 2007.

The Pig is born under the sign of honesty. He has a kind and understanding nature and is well known for his abilities as a peace-maker. He hates any sort of discord or unpleasantness and will do all in his power to sort out differences or opinion or bring opposing factions together.

He is an excellent conversationalist and speaks truthfully and to the point. He dislikes any form of falsehood or hypocrisy and is a firm believer in justice and the maintenance of law and order. In spite of these beliefs however, the Pig is reasonably tolerant and often prepared to forgive others for their wrongs. He rarely harbours grudges and is never vindictive.

The Pig is usually very popular. He enjoys other people’s company and likes to be involved in joint or group activities. He will be a loyal member of any club or society and can be relied upon to lend a helping hand at functions.

Pigs should avoid other Pigs and marry Rabbits or Goats."

The other signs and years of the Chinese zodiac

 

Alec, at the CNY parade

 

Cameron, at East Coast Park

Alec & Cameron, rollerblading at East Coast Park

 

     

 

 

Cameron & friends during free time at school

 

Alec

           

Cameron

 

 

Ryan, Alec, & Cameron with a serval cat at the Night Safari

 

Alec, making a real, working radio

 

Cameron's class after the CNY parade

 

Cameron

Cameron

 

the radio

 

Cameron

 

Alec

 

Alec

 

Alec

 

Happy New Year!

Alec's class after the CNY parade

 

Cameron

 

Alec

    

Cameron

         

Alec, playing in the boys' room