Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

The Chinese lunar new year will be celebrated next Monday (January 26th) the world over.

I am blessed to live in a multi-cultural country where this is another new year that is a national holiday (we celebrate the secular calendar, the Chinese lunar calendar and the Islamic calendar). In my old neighbourhood, we can expect a great deal of noise in the nights preceding the Chinese new year's (CNY) eve and for up to three weeks after with the celebratory fireworks and sparklers. Fireworks and sparklers are actually banned in my country, but the police are rather tolerant of festival firecrackers as long as no one loses a finger (or an eye, or a limb or any part of their body).

With every festival season, all my countrymen look forward to the celebratory advertisement put out by Petronas. I was lucky to have caught it on screen tonight as I was chatting with my parents. All of Petronas' festival advertisement are like micro features; a superbly crafted story executed fluidly in about two minutes. Laden with meaning, beauty and emotion, these advertisements serve to remind us that the most important thing in life is love; be it family, lover or country. If I am not mistaken, all or nearly all of the ads are the handiwork of the incomparable Yasmin Ahmad. She is a film-maker of renown who often deals with subjects such as love and betrayal and compassion for fellow man so passionately and beautifully. Unfortunately, her "unconventional" expressions often lands her in hot water with the national censorship board. Thanks to their overzealousness, our neighbouring Singaporeans get to watch her films much earlier than any of her own countrymen.

This year's CNY ad reminds us how fleet time is and how sorrowful regret can be. The muted tones, the lowered voice ... tres fantastique. The actors are very fine and did a wonderful job at telling the story. The backdrop is Ipoh, with its old world charm and idiosyncratic features.

It is said that the year of the Ox will be a better one than the last. Here's to that!

Yam seng!

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