When Covid-19 hit, there were tales of Asians being insulted, ostracised, spat at, beaten, screeched at to “Get the #@$ out of my country!”
Then came the pictures of shopkeepers who placed posters across their doors, refusing service to “foreigners”.
Now that this virus has spread even further, and the patients are no longer just Asians, is it wrong to take a few moments to snort at the latest online videos?
The classic is the one where an Asian man steps into a restaurant, a lift and a gym, and coughs; the folks flee faster than The Flash. The man is an actor with a message. But behind the snarky storytelling lies a sad reality.
My child called home last week to say an Asian friend was in a fairly crowded train, heading from Oxford to London. He coughed because his throat was ticklish – you know, the sort of ticklish that a sip of water will take care of.
What happened was this: the carriage emptied. Every single person packed his or her things and left. The young Asian didn’t know whether to sob (“It kinda hurt!”) or celebrate (“I got the whole place to myself – beats even First Class.”)
I’d say the virus isn’t what’s viral. How we’re responding is. And while it’s understandable, it’s still sad.
Waiting for the microwave to ding, for the delivery guy, for the bus, for something to go on sale, for your turn at the doctor’s …
These are easy ‘waits’. We know that, eventually, that which we are waiting for will happen. The microwave will ding, the bus will come, and two hours or more later it will be our turn to enter the doctor’s office. The parcel? Well, there could be an inexplicable delay or, like mine did, it could go on an extended holiday in Paris (yep, the one in France) before it found its battered way back and I’d forgotten what was in it.
So then what’s a difficult ‘wait’? It’s waiting for signs that a relationship can be saved if you were more forgiving and tolerant.
It’s waiting for acknowledgement that you have done well.
It’s waiting for others to realise they’d been fed a load of lies and been taken in by someone with a glibber tongue, a wittier story telling style or a more convincing persona.
It’s waiting for the life you were meant to have if you were filial, loyal, kind, honest and hardworking.
It’s waiting for someone to change for the better.
Guess what? I’m done waiting. I will change. I will make my life better because I deserve it. And those people? They can wait in vain for me.”
As a child, I thought the David Copperfield show was pure magic. He could make people float, he cut them up and they didn’t bleed, and he made airplanes and elephants disappear. How magical was that!
Then I grew up. And learnt about chemistry, physics, sleight of hand, optical illusions … suddenly, magic became de-magicked. I mean, The Magician’s Greatest Secrets was a hit on telly.
Today, definitely older and debatably wiser, David Cooperfield’s magic no longer enthralls me. I learnt that the real Copperfield was a Dickensian orphan made good. I have an unwillingness to suspend belief.
But I still believe in magic. I believe it’s the infant’s happy squeal, the child’s look of wonder and joy at his achievement, the deep and unspoken communication between animal and man, the music performance that brings an audience to tears …
I believe that the truly magical defies science and logic. Know where to look and you’ll find magic in the power of life that allows us to heal, and which teaches us to hope.
What exactly is a masterpiece? And how do you determine its worth?
Is it Beethoven’s Fifth?
Van Gogh’s paintings?
I M Pei’s designs?
The 2 year old’s first independent crayon picture?
The spider’s gossamer web on a dewy sparkling morning?
Perhaps the true masterpiece is what you see when you look in the mirror. Flawed, flawless, fragile, frazzled, freckled, frownlined, finely coiffed … whoever you are and however you look, YOU are the masterpiece, and perfectly priceless.
It is impossible to miss the coming of Spring if you’re in Singapore: there’s a riot of reds and golds, loads of seasonal (and fattening!) foods and snacks, dancing dragons, prancing lions and a few days off work.
Here’s a picture from my visit to Singapore’s Tanjong Pagar, a busy commercial hub.
This was taken in front of an office building.
It features the first 6 animals of the Chinese zodiac; the first animal of the zodiac cycle is the rat (this year’s animal), which is on the extreme left.
Sadly, a crowd prevented me from taking a picture of the remaining 6 animals on the other side.
But imagine coming to work and seeing these colours! Should put a real spring in your step!