A friend wanted to borrow a digicam for the Chinese New Year holidays to help decide upgrading from his point-and-shoot to an ultra-zoom or pro-sumer DSLR. Always careful with our hard earned money, we never opt for the latest and greatest. Met on morn of CNY eve for the handover.
While trading thoughts about sensor size and crop factors at the HDB kopi-tiam where coffee at 90 cents is significantly cheaper than Starbucks', a family was quietly settling down at the next table. Styrofoam boxes of packet lunches were produced from the ubiquitous red polyethylene bags and distributed. Another member, apparently working at one of the food stalls, brought forth a small plate of roast duck, hardly enough for the 6 seated, plus the contributor. It was too early in the day, but we realized it was their CNY reunion dinner.
Suddenly, the DSLR in our hands looked obscenely out of place. The 62mm UV filter serving as lens protector costs more than their feast. We wished the floor under our feet would open up and swallow us in. It is very unpleasant to come face to face with the extremity of the Gini coefficient.
On the festive day itself, we observed the strict CNY tradition of trekking to family and relatives' homes. For many this is the once in a year mandatory meeting of the clan, when demanding work schedule is no excuse for not getting together. There's the usual updating of marital status of the ladies, and the fecundity of the just married. The banter is in dialect, so grandpa and grandma can listen in approvingly.
That's when we learnt a distant aunt has 3 sons in the university, one reading his masters. She had toiled 10 years as a cleaner, followed by 25 years as a food court help, her husband drove long hours as a delivery hand. That's not all. Their eldest daughter graduated last year and is working as an accountant. It must have been an uphill task to support their education costs, and the kids must have done their part studying equally hard to qualify for pocket money, bursaries or scholarships. Ang pows may be exchanged, but it's never polite to discuss money openly on this auspicious day. This couple of humble means, in spite of the discrimination and stigma of the Graduate Mom policy, achieved more for the nation's call for babies than selfish society elites.
Nah, we don't need filthy rich foreigners to populate our country, our own born and bred can do just fine. What we do need is a revamp of the group think that is vitiating the future of our nation.