A Sweet Beginning
[Antique ceramic candy dish]
I had the good fortune of taking an insider tour of the historic area of Malacca this Chinese New Year. My dear friend Joanne came visiting from Hong Kong and we decided to make a day-trip to this ancient city.
We didn't know it. But we were led to a long lost friend from college days who lives with his three-generation family in an 200-year-old brick townhouse. Situated on a raod parrallel to Jonker Street, the house has a middle courtyard with ample natural day light and a depth four times of a normal house. His 88-year-old grandmother amazed us with her perfect english, and entertaining us with facts like the colorful ceramic candy dish that was given to her by her mother as part of her dowry in 1920. (Women from that generation normally were not entitled to education, let alone instruction of the foreigner's tongue.)
Deprived of the Chinese New Year festivities for the last nine years, I likened the experience to a child losing Christmas. Receiving good luck money in auspicious red envelopes somehow lost its charm, and savoring all the festive goodies somehow lost its enchantment. It was just an altogether different experience celebrating the holiday from the perspective of a child as compared to that of an adult.
But thanks to Joanne and her wonderful husband who drove us for 2.5 hours on bumpy country roads, we both got our kick of the season. Wandering through the streets, bargaining on trinkets, and peering into restored boutique hotels and chic cafes, we both agreed it was the most magical of all our previous itinerant visits to Malacca.
IN THE KNOW:
» Pictures of my daytrip in Malacca
» Contents of the candy dish -- (clockwise from bottom-right) pickled chinese olives, cashew nuts, raisins, miniature Cadbury milk chocolates, golden raisins (center) coconut candy.
» Sweets are served in abundance during Chinese New Year to signify a sweet beginning and all things sweet for the year.