Fellow blogger Caddy Luck Leedy from That Travel Lady In Her Shoes has a challenge called Just One Person from Around the World. In it, we profile one person met during our travels. It’s a great concept. Many times, it’s the people that I meet that make my trip memorable.
Like the peanut seller I met in Singapore’s Festive Street Bazaar during Chinese New Year.
This week-end people around the world will celebrate Chinese New Year. In places like Singapore with a heavy Chinese influence, the weeks leading up to the date are busy with shopping and preparations. Supermarkets and market stalls are richly decorated with red banners, posters and paper lanterns. Pop-up shops and entire sections of existing stores are dedicated to selling candy, speciality snacks and CNY stock.
Shoppers throng to buy supplies for family reunion dinners and everywhere you go, CNY musak is played in continuous, headache inducing loops. You can listen to a sample here. To fully appreciate the shopping experience, lock yourself in a closet, beam a flashlight directly into your eye and listen to the full 1:54:42 length. Nope, I am not a fan of the music. CNY food: Yes! CNY musak: No.
A few years back I was browsing through the Festive Street Bazaar in Singapore’s Chinatown. One stall specialized in peanuts only, roasted in their shells, with different types and prices. Who knew there was such variety!
As I contemplated the selection, bemused by the (to me) indecipherable labels and marvelous prices, the stall owner came over to chat. He was a jolly gentlemen with a ready laugh and a twinkle in his eye.
He pointed out the best peanuts, saying they were flown in straight from (somewhere – I forget where) and were especially prized for their flavor. He gave me sample bag and asked if I wanted to hear a joke. Juggling my camera, my purse and the peanuts, I nodded yes.
“Two men were standing on a balcony looking down on the street,” he said. “One man was complaining about his difficult life. His work, he wife, his many hardships that made his day miserable.
As he listened to his companion go on and on about his troubles, the other man observed a handicapped beggar dancing in the street.
‘You think your life is bad,’ he said ‘Look at that poor man down there. He has no arms and surely his life must be hard. While you’ve been complaining this past hour, that man has been dancing and jumping with joy. I’ve never seen someone look so happy with so little. You and I both, can learn from him.’
The other man looked down, abashed and ashamed, he stopped talking. He wondered what was the secret to this man’s happiness. He decided to go into the street and ask the beggar how he stayed happy despite his obvious handicaps.
‘Me?’ said the beggar. ‘I wasn’t dancing. I have an itch in the middle of my back that you wouldn’t believe! I’ve been trying to scratch it for this last hour!'”
Cue laughter. Actually, it was funnier when he told it. Given the free peanuts, the joke and his bubbling personality, I felt obliged to buy a small $20 bag of peanuts. What a salesman!
I hope you enjoyed this snapshot of a person from another part of the world. CaddyLuck Leedy updates her site every Wednesday with links to other Just One Person stories. I plan on checking it out. Maybe you should too.
Happy Chinese New Year! from Toronto, Canada