By JAYDEE LOK
INSTEAD of being wined and dined by the man of my dreams (Tom Hiddleston was busy premiering his new movie Only Lovers Left Alive with Tilda Swinton), I spent Valentine’s Day this year with over 1000 strangers by the lake in Taman Jaya in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Not that I’m complaining.
On top of being the anniversary of the highly romanticised demise of poor Saint Valentine, last Friday also co-incided with Chap Goh Meh – which translates to “15th night” in Hokkien – the final day of the Chinese New Year celebrations. It is also often referred to as the “Chinese Valentine’s Day” – in Southeast Asia, at least.
So once a year, elligible bachelorettes from all walks of life (sometimes with all their family and friends) gather by this lake (other popular locations include Esplanade Penang and Taman Tasik Permaisuri and Taman Titiwangsa in KL) to throw oranges with their names and contact numbers written on them for single men to collect.
This year, it seemed that many oranges lacked digits and instead were marked with what appeared to be Twitter handles and Facebook URLs.
A pretty apt way to provide one’s contact details, I thought, considering how the act of contacting someone that you only know by name can be compared to finding a needle in the haystack. And besides, why would you want to give out your number to strangers? You never know for sure if the person you’re about to meet is going to be crazy in love with you or just plain crazy – or worst, both.
Anyway, I decided I wasn’t going to risk it. (My lack of enthusiasm might also explain why I’m still single.)
Despite having lived in the Klang Valley my whole life, I had never once attended any Chap Goh Meh festivities because nobody from my circle of friends seems interested in things like this. How on earth was I supposed to know what to do when I reached the lake?
When I got there, I felt like a distant observer – quietly soaking in my surroundings.
Orange-throwing wasn’t the only thing scheduled for the night. A stage オンライン カジノ was set up for Town Council members to yell “gong xi fa chai” and a line-dance performance.
There were many young people there – all huddled under umbrellas and giggling in excitement as they passed their marker pens around. I was beginning to feel like the Grinch of Chinese New Year.
It was comforting to know that not all the beautiful bachelorettes at the event were wearing their hearts on their sleeves.
I made friends with college student Tan Zong-Ying, 21, who said she was there with her friends just to enjoy the atmosphere.
“I’m mainly here to observe what other fruits (aside from oranges) people are going to throw into the lake,” said Tan. “I saw a girl carrying a pomelo.”
Some were less cynical and were there to test the waters. Literally.
“I’m here to throw oranges into the lake and hopefully I will find my Prince Charming,” admitted Lim Chu Fung, 28, who works in retail management. “You’ll never know what could happen.”
Luckily for her, several young men could be seen walking around the premises well prepared with fishing nets – waiting to scoop up as many oranges as they can.
Finally, in the dim red light of the lanterns, while the cymbals of the lion dance roared through the rain, thousands of oranges were thrown into the lake – waiting to be picked up by who could be possibly “the one”.
Let’s hope most of them find love this year. And if they don’t, I guess I’ll see them again next year.