Day 0 [Prologue] Why India?
June. What a memorable month. It comes before the awfully humid July, and wanders after the Spring-ending May. Conveniently situated at the end of the semester, June is a month where school friends bid each other goodbyes as they go off enjoying their summer, and where graduates leave school in search of their uncertain future, and of course where teachers start smiling, knowing that they finally get their long deserved vacation. Just like the character June, in the recent box office comedy 'Knight and Day', played by Cameron Diaz, days felt like months during June this year, mostly because of the spontaneity and life-changing tidbits that went exploding in front of me.
June. What a different month. I have been so used to getting up at weekdays for my schedules that for several weeks, I failed to remain asleep later than 8am. Having led such a consistent lifestyle, day in and out for the past 3 years (with only short one-week breaks now and then), made my body accustomed to the 7am-work-day-with-night-calls-once-every-4-days routine. The first weekend after my graduation from medical school, I was shocked by myself when I tried to recall which department I would be stationed at the following week (and this idea came up many times). And for the following several days, I would answer my phone tentatively, as if they might be emergency calls from the hospital. The teaching hospital being close to my apartment, I had to resist the thought of wearing dress shoes instead of flip-flops when I go out. It is really difficult to part with my habits, but way more difficult to part with my friends and Hualien. I've grown to love Hualien as my second home, and to love my friends as my family. During the several parties we had before departure, everyone is constantly seen either with a camera in hand, or doing poses for snaps. With that in mind, I genuinely thank ZeRui for taking all these pictures of us. These memories will be immortalized in our hearts (and as jpegs in our hard drive).
June. What a heartbreaking month. According to Buddhism, life is impermanent, and so are relationships. Be it family, loved ones, or even your relationship with your beloved --- bicycle, everything comes and goes in a cycle, and when something ends, something else begins. (A shoutout to all bicycle lovers and your missing bicycles, may your loss wash out with time. And yes, YingEn, I AM talking about you.) For me, it is not about bicycles, but about someone who shared my love for them. It is rare to find someone special enough for us to open our hearts, even rarer to face so deep into our emotions that you finally find someone who match and complete you. Unfortunately, when reality checks in, everything may not go exactly as you planned. Relationships are complicated. There is no one true/false answer to it. There is no right/wrong decision to make. And suddently, all the poetry, songs and movies about heartbreaks seem so true to me. I know notice how it feels to be heartbroken (not that I haven't experience love before), for this time, the intensity triumphs all other similar events from the past. I am lucky though, to have loyal friends that stood by me. Thanks to them, most of the sorrows are replaced by movie shows, long walks and late-night drinks. God has a purpose in everything He does, and according to Christianity, God has plans for every man.
June. What an optimistic month. Leaving school, we now prepare for our national examinations before getting officially certified as a bona fide doctor. I said optimism because I am looking forward to all things new. New colleagues at a new hospital (I'll be starting work as a family medicine resident in rural DaLin TzuChi Hospital in September), new apartment, new friends. I am considering a new car too, but the paychecks have to start rolling in first. I am also psyched about my solo trip to India in August where I plan to spend 18 days paying pilgrimage to some of the world's most sacred religous sites. All in all, things will be fine I guess. With all the new input I'll be getting, I know that I'll be saying goodbye to my old habits soon.
June. What a HOT month! Okay, I take back the humid July thing I said earlier. June is humid, AND hot! I am always pro-environment, but the merciless heat always makes you feel panicky and irritable. What I do is, I switch on the air conditioner for an hour, let it cool and dehumidify the room, and then switch it off for the next 4-5 hours. Best of both worlds. And this is what June meant for me, hot with excitement but cold with grief. Best of both worlds. (Damn, I am SO optimistic!)
昨天與GRAD劇團聚餐, 大家幾乎都到齊了, 為我們兩年前圓滿落幕的舞台劇 '一塊錢的幸福' 繼續慶祝, 繼續回憶. 小乖說大家都沒變. 我想, 大家樣子可能改變不大, 但是心智總應該長大許多吧...
離開校園兩年之久的昔日夥伴, 大都出來社會工作一段日子了. 就連我們這三個醫學編導三劍客, 都在醫院混了不少日子. 放下了校園的青澀單純, 我們這兩年, 也都面對了社會殘酷的現實. 有人不滿工作上司的想法而離職, 有人因為發現自己的興趣不合而選擇轉換跑道, 更有人因為健康或種種因素久久無法穩定下來. 不管如何, 我們這些劇團的幕前幕後人員, 好像就把劇情裡每個人錯中復雜的心情演在現實生活裡. 每個人都在扮演著一個角色. 即使曾經努力, 也難免遇到了惱人的挫折. 這是後最想念, 最懷念的就是學生時代的單純, 朋友們的鼓勵.
在職場上, 大家都各自為政, 有多少人能夠找到知心好友? 又有多少人能夠結交志同道合的戰友? 相較於學校社團的運作, 職場少了某種信賴, 更缺乏了某種包容. 這就是殘酷的社會. 這就是我們長大的代價.
置身於這個冷酷僵局的這些團員們, 各個說出了自己的無奈. 可是, 大家也因為與正向的舊朋友的相聚, 趁機好好的充電一番. 我們就這樣聊了一整個晚上. 接著, 借宿我們家, 打從老遠來的朋友們又繼續暢談. 原來大家都郁悶. 原來大家都煩惱.
這是我們這個年紀的人的通病嗎? 還是專屬我們這些自認正直青年, 有理想抱負的年輕人所有的挫折. 我們在學校可是單純的呢... 大家曾經為了一個想法, 一個其他人視為不可能的想法, 而全力付出與犧牲. 最後換來的是一個不可能的任務. 當時候, 我都為了這個成果而自豪, 甚至因為這樣而信心滿滿. 相隔了兩年, 大家還是大家, 但是氣勢可大不如前. 原來社會能夠剝奪夢想, 能夠毀滅希望. (說的有點嚴重, 但是我們就是那麼的DRAMATIC) 兩年 --- 大家都累了.
社會要改變, 恐怕很難. 但是我們的成長, 正是唯一自己可以控制的. 我期許我們不是去與社會妥協, 而是在層層磨練以後, 亮眼的鑽石, 要勇敢誕生出來. 今天突然想到... 兒時的單純, 與生俱來, 不必任何努力就可以維持. 但長大後的我們, 要保有當初的理想, 可是要用心, 更要用力. 身邊的朋友彼此要互相鼓勵, 但最終的努力, 還得靠自己.
GRAD劇團是我們的後援會. 它是補充心靈糧食的休息站. 但是, 職場是我們的戰場. 我們要在戰場上為自己覺得對的事情奮斗, 更要為自己的生活目標前進. 謝謝雯婷發起這個劇團. 謝謝神犬, 健輝的合作無間. 謝謝RONA的細心維護. 謝謝小乖的友情贊助. 謝謝各位演員們, 各位幕後人員把自己本分收好. 劇場雖然已落幕, 但是我們人生的劇場可真要開始. 大家加油! 明年見~
一塊錢的幸福 ==> 一輩子的幸福
Being a doctor means you get to handle life and death on a daily basis. You get to witness suffering and once in a while, you get to help the patients and their family live through it. Doctors have the knowledge and the equipment to help alleviate pain, but at the end of the day, patients need to endure all the torturing sores and aches, cramps and discomforts, all by themselves. We can try to help, but we may never offer total relief.
Knowing our limitations, doctors often perceive agony and grief as an irreplaceable step towards recovery. We prescribe pain medications and cough mixtures, but when all fails, we can't help but to blame it on the illness itself, urging our patients to accept the pain and stop complaining. We may use polite gestures and empathetic words, but deep inside, we feel the anger and weakness of our never ending defeat, in the battle with the diseases.
Medicine started out with a goal of healing all humans. Over the time, we learned that medicine, as with all other disciplines, has its limitations. As Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau once said: "To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always," doctors can now accept their failures, and we set out on a new goal of reducing discomfort while helping the sick on their journey back to health.
I am not a religious person, nor am I an atheist. My experiences in the hospital led me to believe in karma, or God's way, or spirits (you may put it any way you like). The truth is, I see some people suffer more than others. I see young lives burdened with ailments, while they are challenged simultaneously with financial, family and relationship problems. I then see seniors blessed with optimum health while they are in their eighties, happily married with beautiful children and grandchildren. I sometimes wonder why do life treat people so differently? Why aren't we all presented with the same opportunities in life?
I for one, am blessed with good health, a close-knitted family, and more devoted friends than I could ever wished for. People asked me the secrets to being positive. I shrug, because there aren't any secrets. I remain positive, because negative thoughts never surfaced in my mind. They are all drowned in the sea of kindness, warmth and affection that I am constantly surrounded with. I am lucky, you may say, and the best thing is, I KNOW that I am lucky. That is why I am grateful. That is why I don't complain.
I hope life treats you kind. I hope you store enough optimism in your hearts. Because in the end, when our lives are filled with pain, we are the ones that are responsible for healing ourselves.
Holy crap! ONE YEAR? Are you kidding me? My blog has been static for almost a year?
Blame it on the restless 'on call' nights... and the following nights spent on sleep therapy. Blame it on the endless presentations and scutwork. Blame it on the weather... I don't care, I ain't taking fault for the lengthy absence. (OK I admit that I am a little moody these days, but please blame it on the rain)
But hey, I still remember the days where new posts sprout out by the dozens. Those were the days when I still had a LIFE, those were the days before my time-consuming internship. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about being a doctor. It pays well, and gives me much satisfaction. I do understand that there are sacrifices to be made so that we get to play God and start saving lives (some of the time).
Writing, for me, has never been a chore. It is a relaxing, self-renewing process that I enjoy and hope to complete every single day. Inspiration, I had many. The hospital is a place so crowded with drama and humor, even a heartless robot gets to cry or laugh once in a while. Time, hmm... Not much to spare, but not impossible to come up with either. I recall plenty of hours spent watching useless TV shows or lingering around doing nothing. Commitment, I think, should be my utmost challenge. I can blame so many things for getting in the way of my blogging habits, but unless I place down an obligation, the blame will go on.
Why oh why can't I commit myself to writing? Why can't I start a thingy and stick to it for once? I do have a passion for writing, and I do have the contents laid out somewhere in my heart. So why is it so hard to change even when the problem is so obvious?
While I break the silence of my blog with this post, I feel momentum gaining within me. Just when you thought it is all over, maybe it won't end up in disappointment. Maybe this will be a brand new start. A different me. Maybe blogging will be my next commitment. Maybe writing will continue to be my passion. So, stay tuned, I would say to my fellow readers, because you might be witnessing a memorable transformation. Maybe for once, I will be the change.
Or... maybe not?
Happy Birthday and Happy Mother's Day MUM!
Happy 3rd Anniversary to Frankie's BLOG! (Officially renamed as Swanky Frankie, Don't Be Cranky)
3 years of thoughful posts about my life, photos of my exciting travels and journeys and the occasional grumbles and whines. I can't believe that what started as a brief passion of blogging turned out to be a very important part of my life where I would communicate with all my fellow bloggers and also my inner self. To celebrate the 1095 days of your support, I would like to do a recap of the best posts that I hope we will never forget.
Gui-Zhou Volunteering Trip
Summer of 2006, I experienced a life-changing trip to the outskirts of one very small town, Dan-Zhai. I've watched documentaries about poor villages and illiterate children but none as heartbreaking and heartwarming as this real-life experience.
Bike Trip Circling Taiwan
Summer of 2007, me and a few of my friends conquered the physical, mental and emotional challenges of cycling around the Taiwan Island in 10 days. Approximately 1000 kilometers after our first departure, we were reborn as stronger yet more sensitive individuals, with loads of memories never to be forgotten.
Summer of 2008, I went on a one-man trip to the East Coast of USA, in search of knowledge and opportunities. I met with strangers that I can relate instantly as well as culture differences that I opened my eyes as well as my heart.
My Life, My Emotions
My life up until now has always been fascinating. I am really glad that I can wake up each day with curiosity and anticipation, for no matter what lies ahead, I believe it to be an experience to better myself. Here are a few memorable posts that I go back occasionally for a good read.
The Puppy We Once Had
My First Week As A Medical Semi-Intern
灰色巨塔 ~ A Depiction of Modesty
The Conference That Made Me Cry
A Philosophical Me
I do often have crazy thoughts going on my mind, but I seldom get too theoretical. But whenever I get 'enlightened', there would be a post to prove and commemorate my infrequent random awakenings.
The Moment I Got Stuck In The Middle
This Is My Life
Blogging - A hobby and habit that I never knew I will be hooked on to, but has been affecting me in a positive way since its beginning. Happy Anniversary BLOG, I wish you many many prosperous and momentous years to come.
A quick post about my visit to my partner, Cai Zhao's brother's apartment for lunch. Cai Zhao and her family is from Myanmar, but has been studying / working here since many years ago. Her brother got married last year, and recently bought an apartment in the outskirts of Taipei, which is cheaper, less crowded, yet still conveniently located near downtown.
Ikea - the Swedish-founded Dutch-owned furniture extravaganza has always and still is one of my favorite place to visit. When Ikea opened its first store in Malaysia, me and my family used to go to this gigantic mall of brightl colored furniture for ideas and inspiration for our own home. Ikea never cease to stimulate the nesting instinct in me, always putting a bold yet cosy picture of how my future home should be.
During my Dermatology rotation in Taipei, me and my partner, Cai Zhao took time off for an impromptu trip to Ikea.
Connie, my beloved sister turned 21 recently. For such a memorable event, a simple birthday cake and a few presents seemed to boring and predictable. Knowing how much she wished for a decent haircut, I volunteered to pay for a complete makeover.
The four of us - Connie, Wenting, Kian Hwee and me - dressed up like fashionable elves, all in bright green. Those who caught us on the streets might think that we're a bunch of environmental-activist wannabes, or team members of the Green Team out of some Nickelodeon game show. Envy or not, no one can deny that we are not only matching on the outside, but also close to each other on the insides.
At the hairdresser's, I insisted that Connie go for the punk look - yay-short hair on the sides - with a cool crop of hair left at the front. Wenting suggested a more sophisticated shoulder length look, similar to some famous lady entrepreneurs such Martha Stewart and Hilary Clinton.
While Connie's on the death-chair awaiting her final look, me and Wenting cannot resist our urge of taking pictures up, down and everywhere. The hair studio looks very clean and neat, decorated with modern bright colors which serves as great backgrounds for our green outfits.
I loved the German colorful wallpaper in particular, especially the funny Haare and Po.
Connie ended up with an assymetrical hairstyle (fulfilling both mine and Wenting's wishes), short and tomboy-ish on one side, neat and long on the other. The birthday girl loved her new makeover that day, but she found that the look needed daily grooming and styling, which she never had time for. But all in all... it was a fresh new her, and there's no better way to celebrate a fresh new twenty-oner!
這就是我在小兒加護病房所照顧的可愛小貝比--洪弟弟, 不要看他鼻子嘴巴都插著管子, 他可是很活潑好動的呢! 他的病床位置的正對面是一個能夠加熱的檢查台, 每一位要住進來的baby都要先放在檢查台上, 做過詳細的檢查一後, 抽血打針, 才能放回屬於自己的病床上. 每當新baby被放上檢查台, 洪弟弟就會好奇的看著這些怪怪的醫生叔叔阿姨們虐待他的同胞. 他的眼神充滿著不解, 眉頭深鎖擔心著嚎啕大哭新來的朋友們, 這個可愛表情, 是讓我們恨不得想要捏他的臉頰, 親親他的額頭.
洪弟弟才3個月大喔, 但是他很勇敢! 打針他都不哭, 平常跟他玩, 他也不吝表現出很high, 讓來探望他的人開心得不想走. 護士小姐, 值班的醫師, 每天來上班的第一件事情, 就是要跟洪弟弟打聲招呼, 畢竟他算是這裡的資深住戶. 他自從1個月大住近來後, 就沒有離開過, 但是卻也跟這裡的每位醫護同仁(還有打掃的阿姨)都變成了好朋友.
這張照片是我離開小兒加護病房的rotation時, 依依不捨所拍下來的照片. 其實後來我也有抽空去看看他, 知道他一天比一天進步, 大家心裡都很安慰. 期待他順利出院的那一天...
面對小孩, 我是又愛又恨. 不想靠近他們的鼻涕+口水+糞便, 不想費心跟一群無法溝通的野蠻動物共識, 更不想親眼看見年紀那麼小就百病纏身的小朋友. 但是, 每當聽見他們天真的笑聲, 盯上他們無辜的眼神, 握著他們純真的小手; 自己又好像愛上了小兒科...
至少到今天為止, 我在小兒科的日子可以算是開心的. 從小孩子身上, 似乎讓我發現快樂是與生俱來的, 只是被我們這些大人漸漸遺忘. 小朋友開心就笑, 生氣就哭, 完全不會掩飾自己的心情. 跟他們相處久了, 自己也放下了保護膜, 因為這些小病人不但沒有心機, 還常常是善良的. 有一個病人, 才11個月大, 就有14公斤, 可說是一只小相撲. 全身肌肉結實的這位小男生, 因為一些病毒感染而住進了醫院. 一開始啊, 他的'白色恐怖'可說是嚴重到極點, 只要看到穿著白袍, 白護士服, 白襯衫的人, 他都要哭到不成人樣. 就這樣, 他在病房住了三五天, 我也盡我的工作本分, 每天定時去拜訪, 做做檢查, 一面跟媽媽寒暄幾句, 一面逗逗這位可愛的小相撲. 寶寶就快出院的時候, 經過護理站前, 竟然雙手伸直要我抱抱. 這一下讓我嚇倒了, 這麼ANTI-醫生的小朋友, 在短短幾天的相處, 就大開了他的心胸, 接受了我這位醫生叔叔.
其實, 可不可以跟陌生人熟, 也要先看看小朋友的年齡. 6個月一下的寶寶, 完全不會認人, 非常好相處, 被偷抱走也不會大哭... 但是一旦他們開始認臉後, 只要看到不熟悉的面孔, 就會趕快放聲大哭, 向爸媽求救. 這些小小孩, 從1-3歲不等, 特點還包括無法溝通, 他高興就配合, 不高興就大亂. 較年長的4-6歲小朋友, 開始懂事了, 可以配合, 能夠聽話. 但這時候, 可能是對社會有所認識, 都會以害羞來保護自己. 小學生以上的小朋友, 雖能夠坦然與身邊的人, 但已經學會帶著一層保護牆, 不像以前那樣單純了... 隨著年齡的增長, 這個隱性的城牆就會越來越厚.
當小兒科醫師真的很不錯, 把自己泡在這個環境, 常常提醒自己要心寬念純, 想辦法返老還童... (待續)
Me and my housemates 'FORCED' my talented friend/classmate/director/photographer to bring us out for a photoshoot. Wenting found this beautiful place with blossoming chrysanthemums, and we immediately fell in love with it. Zerui, the photographer was very professional, with his expensive gadgets and funny pose-talks.
我要坦誠, 今天以前確實對皮膚科有所偏見. 一想到皮膚科, 腦袋浮起的是一群輕松自在的閒醫生. 這些都是班上最會念書的醫學生, 非常會考試, 成績一直都很好. 因為不想承擔太多責任, 而選擇不太會死人的皮膚科... 皮膚科, 多簡單啊! 幾乎不會有人半夜CALL你說病人很危急. 皮膚病, 廣義來說只有兩種藥; 感染就給抗生素, 發炎就給類固醇...
但是啊, 今天的皮膚科張中興醫師 (她是girl, 不是boy), 就讓我完全改變以往的觀念. 張醫師對皮膚科有非凡的興趣, 這是可預料的 (大多數醫生多會把自己的科別捧得很偉大), 但除此之外, 她用了一段很有趣, 很有哲理的解釋來形容幹細胞, 讓我有莫名震撼.
幹細胞 (Stem Cell), 是現今大家很注目的一個議題. 而張醫師呢, 說幹細胞就像醫學生一樣.... 怎麼像呢?
她說啊, 幹細胞是未分化的細胞, 所以它有可能未來可以變成任何一種分化的細胞. 醫學術語說它是 Multipotent, 很有 potential 的意思啦! 這樣啊, 醫學生也是未分化的一群醫師, 以後可能變成各種科別的精英... 也很有 potential!
但是啊, 醫學生也像幹細胞一樣, 都在吸取養分, 但卻處於休眠的狀態, 嚴格來說, 一點作用都沒有...
聽到這裡, 我們心情不曉得是要高興還是慚愧好. 但是, 大家不得不認同張醫師所說的.
接著, 張醫師繼續分析, 每一個細胞都是 '利他' 的. 一旦分化以後, 這些細胞就會堅守自己的崗位, 好好的把本分事做好. 舉例說, 分化好的皮膚細胞就會和旁邊的皮膚細胞一起合作, 為的不是自己, 而是要保護底下的組織與器官; 每一個心藏細胞都是同步跳動, 完全不會有任何個人主義, 為的就是要順利把血液打到全身. 因此啊, 分化的細胞就是秉持著 '利他' 的原則在生活...
張醫師這一下真的讓我雞皮疙瘩都出來了. 不只是醫師啊, 每個人如果都能做好本分, 不都是 '利他' 嗎? 但是, 要做到跟人平和相處, 學習達成共識, 在毫無個人英雄主義底下, 任命努力工作... 這是要多大的修養啊?
最後結束前, 張醫師還補充說, 其實幹細胞還會分化成另一種細胞, 那就是癌細胞. 癌細胞和正常的細胞也就只有一線之差. 它們雖然都來自同樣的幹細胞, 但是正常細胞是 '利他', 癌細胞是 '利己'. 就這樣, 癌細胞反而不斷吸取養分, 破壞其他組織, 為的就是自己啊!
哇... 原來從皮膚科, 從幹細胞就能悟到那麼多道理! 很佩服張醫師, 但又會擔心自己... 這樣一講, 我真的要好好思考, 好好警惕, 我們這些幹細胞, 到底日後會變成什麼? 只是一念之差 '利他' '利己' 就有完全不同的命運.
張醫師, 你要多多傳承, 不然我真的好害怕自己變成 Malignant Cell!
KAOHSIUNG UNDERWENT MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS since its last few city mayors and especially during Chen Shui Bian's presidency. One of the most remarkable progress is an efficient MRT system, further improving its transportation and environment (scooters give out smoke). The KMRT stations were built to impress. Various architects were employed to make all the stations unique in its own way. The result? Gigantic works of art at different parts of the city. Inside, the tokens, the coaches and the counters are all similar to its Taipei counterpart. One thing that sets them apart is that KMRT plays two different tunes when the train arrives and leaves.
MY FIRST IMPRESSION OF KAOHSIUNG is its pollution. Being the largest industrial hub of Taiwan, it is definitely difficult for the city to be clean and pristine. I have heard one so many times of Kaohsiung locals complaining about their air quality and drinking water. Rumors had it that most locals buy mineral water for consumption because the tap water is far too challenging for their taste buds.
NO SIGNS OF TEMPLE SHORTAGE here in Tainan, last time I counted, there are 3 temples within a couple of blocks from the place I stayed for the night. Ancient and historical architeture overcrowd this city, and this is what it is famous for. I do enjoy some cultural stuff, but I had to admit that I'm bad in history (sorry to my history teacher), and even worse, I did not do my homework prior to visiting all these historical sites.
Not having an idea which site to go, I hopped on the 88 bus, and let it lead my way. I ended up at the Anping Fort, also known as Fort Zealandia, which I think is a Dutch settlement many years ago (I can't figure out how many years). The buildings here resemble those that can be found in Malacca, Malaysia. Red bricks and long walls, all similar to the scenes I had in my mind of Malacca from all the school excursions we did when I was young.
Another attraction in the town of Anping, is the Anping tree house. The old house belonged to a British trader a long time ago, before an evil (or sacred, I cannot judge) banyan tree outgrowed the walls and filled the whole house with its evil (okay, I do judge) roots and vines... Sucking away the nutrients and soul of the hopeless house. Even with the laughter and chit chats of the many visitors, I still feel a sense of disturbing sinister-like atmosphere in the house. I imagine how great it would be for it to be used as a filming set for horror movies... no props needed!
FOOD, WEATHER AND HOSPITALITY - these are what Southern Taiwan is well known for. For my trip to Kaohsiung and Tainan, I held no expectations other than to see this two cities while I am still in Taiwan. With this relaxed pace and low level of anticipation, I was gladly surprised by how much 'goodness' can one city offer.
The train is the easiest and fastest way to reach Tainan, either from Taipei or from my place in Hualien. Signs of me arriving at South Taiwan came to me when I realized how warm the weather became. Rice fields are conveniently placed beside railroad tracks, just perfect for travelers to feast their eyes in. In this part of Taiwan, flat sandy beaches are a norm, as the two cities are situated at the coastal plains of West Taiwan.
Chinese New Year's Eve, the night before the new year in the Chinese lunar calendar, is when all families gather for a reunion dinner. The dinner is almost always held at the house of an elder, the oldest person alive within the family tree. Unfortunately for me, I could not be home at my grandma's for the occasion, and was left trapped in Hualien. The good news is, I DO have a second family, which loves me more than I could ever expected, and has so many family members I lost count everytime I started to try. This POPULOUS family, has a common shared philosophy of compassion and goodwill, and its family members are widely spread across the earth. This family is the Tzu Chi family.
Master Cheng Yen, the founder and mother of this huge organization, reminds all of us that we are one big family, gathered together with a cause. And so, even though we are not bonded by blood, the love we share for others, are so alike that we must be carrying a GENE or DNA that brings us together. During the festive season, many Tzu Chi family members come back to the abode, which is the home to Master Cheng Yen and her disciple nuns, to give good wishes and meet with other
On the eve of Chinese New Year alone, more than 2000 people attended the reunion dinner, and all of us received a 'red packet' from the Master, symbolizing prosperity and good luck. The food was truly amazing. There was a steamboat soup, with lots of organic vegetables freshly picked from the abode's own garden; various symbolic Chinese delicacies perfectly prepared; a to-die-for platter of mouth-watering sweet cakes; and more delicious dumplings than you can possibly finish.
From the first until the fifth day of New Year, Tzu Chi volunteers put together a fair, with all-you-can-eat vegetarian fare, and plenty of educative games to play. The main theme this year revolves around the new modest living hype, educating people to stop unnecessary purchases and to try to live humbly. The idea is quite useful knowing that the recent economic recession has had a major effect on all of us. Simple and sustainable living is also an important step to in preventing further global warming. All of these valuable messages are delivered throughout the fair, hoping each and everyone of the visitors would incorporate these ideas into their New Year's resolutions.
On the other side of the abode, beautiful wooden tables and chairs are arranged into a pleasant cafe for people to have their long talks. Free teas and snacks are offered to all, and the laidback atmosphere of the place lets you relax while you sip tea and listen to the updates from your old acquaintances. I spent my whole afternoon here, meeting with so many friends; some which I have long lost their contacts and some which I just did not have the chance to speak to for a long time. It was a very heartwarming experience, and I felt very much at home.
Nothing compares with the gatherings I had with my true blood family, but the Tzu Chi family reunions never cease to give me support and encouragement as well. It is hard being far away from home, and I thank my family at Tzu Chi for giving me all the love that I need to carry on.
What's a good Chinese New Year without these touching ads? Being far away from home (fortunately for me, not alone) during festive season really breaks my heart. CNY reminds us Chinese of the importance of family and tradition, the two things that I hope I will always cherish and respect.
Here's one that would definitely put a smile on your face
And another one that is totally AWESOME!
Funny Ah Long ad...
This one nearly broke my heart.
And... this one definitely earned my tears.