Writer: Ong Qing Liang
Photos: Deborah Wong, Gopal Kumar
On an uneventful Sunday night in hall, when on return from a 57-second long toilet break, I noticed that a door tag had been swiftly pasted during my brief period of absence:
Looking at the note, a strange sense of excitement overcame me. It felt as if I was being transported back to the era when the humble mooncake had its beginnings, the Yuan dynasty. Back then, China was under the rule of the Mongolians and rebel leaders, in a bid to devoid themselves of any suspicion, carefully distributed special cakes with secret notes embedded in them, spreading word of an impending rebellion. This time round though, the door tag given to me was not to signal a brewing upheaval in KE VII Hall, but rather, a friendly invitation to the East Wing Mid Autumn Festival. :)
And so on Wednesday night, the mundane BBQ area was magically transformed into a grand celestial palace. With colourful lanterns of various shapes and sizes hung all around and the quiet, peaceful moon beaming overhead, the atmosphere was perfect.
Well, some say that in the past, Chang Er was recruited as a celebrity endorsement for an unnamed slimming center and in order to maintain her 10-inch waistline, she embarked on a strict no-fat, no-mooncake diet (thus earning her the nickname 常饿, or “often hungry” :)) Eventually though, Chang Er became so thin and malnourished that one day, gravity was unable to hold on to her bony frame anymore and she floated off to the nearest celestial body, where she now spends her days playing with the resident rabbit and watching the next door neighbour’s futile attempts at chopping down a tree.
Well, if the Chang Er in the story above was around during the East Wing MAF, she definitely would not be able to resist the sumptuous spread available for the night. ;) Besides the customary festival goodies such as mooncake and pomelo, there was a wide variety of other treats available for every hungry East Winger.
The spirits of everyone were kept high throughout the night with many fun and creative games. The physical fitness of East Wingers was put to the test as they ran against each other in a light-the-sparkler relay (well, actually the physically demanding part was not the spinning and running, but rather trying to breathe under the dense, cough-inducing sparkler smoke) while their mental power was tested in the “lantern riddles” and “guess-the-song” segments. For some East Wing residents, it was their first time experiencing the Mid Autumn Festival. Vibol, from AB block, particularly liked the chewy texture of the mooncake and commented that it was literally ‘out of this world’ (pun intended).
As the candles and sparklers started to die down, the celebrations came to an end. Satisfied East Wingers reluctantly left for their rooms knowing that while the flames of the lighted lanterns may have extinguished, the East Wing spirit continues to burn strong in each and every one of them! :D