Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Qing Ming Festival

It is the Qing Ming festival now, and it is a Chinese custom for every household to sweep their ancestors’ graves and pay their respects. Yesterday, I applied leave to go tomb sweeping with my parents. I never like tomb sweeping, because the cemetery is especially hot and humid. Nevertheless, I had to go, because my parents won’t be able to sweep the tombs just by themselves.

We arranged to leave at 9.30 in the morning. It was considered a bit too late, because by the time we reach the cemetery, the sun will be scorching hot. But we have no other choice. Either you go an hour earlier and have to pay for the ERP, or go later in the day and get jammed with other tomb sweepers. I remembered once when I was a child that we left home when the moon is still hanging high up the sky like a gigantic duck egg yolk. The weather was cooling, but it wasn’t hard to travel around because there weren’t many streetlights in the cemetery.

Back to yesterday’s tomb sweeping, we arrived at the cemetery at around 10am. We had got 5 tombs to sweep: both my maternal grandparents’, both my paternal grandparents’, and my paternal great-grandmother’s tombs. Actually, I find that the term “tomb sweeping” is a bit inaccurate, because we don’t actually sweep them nowadays since we can pay for the tomb caretakers to maintain the tombs for us. What we really did were to light up joss sticks, lay out food offerings, stick coloured incense paper with joss sticks all over the mount of the tomb and finally burn the gold and silver incense paper, together with paper clothing and other daily necessities meant for the dead. Anyway speaking of tomb caretakers, I must take my hat off these people. Even though each tomb caretaker is only in charge of a sector or two of the entire graveyard, they must have very sharp eyesight to spot people who had arrived to do tomb sweeping and go up to them to collect payment. Especially so when an average human looked so minute in a sea of tombs!

As per previous years, my mum mumbled that if weren’t for us, there would not be anyone to visit their tombs. Of all the tombs that we went, we realised that the tombs were clean of any offerings, a clear indication that no one has visited them yet. It was so ironic, that when my grandparents were alive, their children and grandchildren were so “filial” to them. So it goes to show that filial piety of your children can only be really determined after your death!

One interesting thing I’ve observed about the tombs is that, like our living quarters for the alive, the tombs for the dead are getting smaller and smaller as time goes by. My great-grandmother, who died in 1975, had a big tomb, which was about 1 1/2 times my grandparents’. I’ve been to another older cemetery at Mount Peasant, and the tombs there were grander than my great-grandmother’s! However, unlike our HDB flats which are becoming more and more unique in style over the years, tombs these days all looked the same. Tombs before the 1980s came in different shapes and sizes, some were long like an angled horseshoe and some were tall like a stele. My father said the difference in the style of architecture was because of the different dialect groups these deceased belonged to. Too bad I did not bring my digital camera, or else I’d snap some pictures of these graves. They’re interesting to look and study at!

We finished sweeping all 5 tombs by 12 noon, half an hour ahead of schedule. However, my mother had already started complaining about how much black spots she’s going to have after this tomb sweeping trip. Well she should be glad that this is only an annual event and not something she had to do every month!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

End of Performance Season 1 For 2006

It is the end of the first performance season for our troupe of this year. This season is a relatively short one, as we only have 4 performances so far, 2 during the first weekends of this month, and another two for yesterday and tonight (The one in Klang on 1st January is not counted as it was considered a brought over of last year's performance).

Tonight, we performed "Bloodshed in the Imperial Palace" at Tampines East Community Club, and I think this show made our performance season end with a crash. This show was very messy, as there are many costume changes for the ensemble roles, and the time allocated for it was simply not enough. I was one of the minor roles in the show, and I forgot to recite a dialogue of mine offstage as I was busy changing my costumes.

Other than being an actor, I was also tasked to be the scenographer for this show. I had actually designed and made quite a few hanging props, but due to time and handling constraints, the changing of props could not be rehearsed before the show, and it was halfway through the performance that I realised that I do not have enough manpower to help me raise the props in the final scene of the show. I had to quickly delegate it out to someone else while I go and get ready to go up the stage. In the end , that prop could not be raised on time, and it was simply unsightly.

I was very moody after the show, as I think that in personal terms, I have failed terribly in this show. I hope I won't have to act this show again, so as to spare me for the agony!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Something Kinda Stupid

Jokes about blonds should not be something unfamiliar to most people. They're always been stereotyped as brainless or plain stupid. Lately I began to see some truth in it.

Weeks ago, we order some spare parts from US and they arrived at my office today. The spare parts was packed in a small plastic packaging which was about the size of my palm, but they were shipped in a box which is about 24 times bigger than the plastic packaging! My colleague who had received the package was amused by this whole thing. This is not the first time they had done this, and I don't believe that they do not have a box that's smaller than that!

I wonder what are the crew in US thinking when they send out a package like this, even after we had complaint to them about this problem before. At the end of the day we have to pay for the extra freight and they don't get to earn from that as well. So why are they repeating this again? God knows!

Note: I have nothing against blonds or Americans in general.