Happy Lunar New Year’s Day

Happy New Year to all the people who follow the lunar calendar!

Growing up in Calcutta, now renamed Kolkata, India, the Chinese New Year celebrations meant a great deal to me. Like Christmas is to the Western culture, this is the one annual bash that all the Chinese kids look forward to all year long. What makes this event so unique in Kolkata is how the Hakka Chinese has kept the tradition alive despite living away from their homeland in China for over a hundred years.

We were a close-knit community. We lived in a suburb called Tangra in Kolkata. There are still some of our folks left in Tangra. Most of us are now dispersed all over the world, predominantly in North America. Tangra was in its heydays when I was child.

I remember the excitement for the Chinese New Year festivities would start to build weeks before the actual day. Many boys, teens and even adults formed bands for the lion’s dance. Each group made or bought a colourful paper mache lion’s head with a flowing mane and tail. One person held the head while another, the tail. They pranced and danced to drumbeats and cymbals clinking and clanking. The teams practiced for the big day when they would go from house to house showing off their prowess. The procession of the lions would begin sometime after midnight on New Year’s Day.

The big incentive for this night-long celebration was the red lucky pockets of cash doled out to the lion’s dance teams at every house. In addition to being allowed to stay up all night, the kids came away richer. Their pockets were already full from the lucky money their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles handed out to them. New Year’s was a lucrative time for the children.

When I recall those memories, I’m filled with nostalgia. I long to recapture that childish enthusiasm for this wonderful occasion. But as an adult, the wonder is long gone. Caught in the mundane living and doing, I try to keep some of the traditions alive for our kids here in Canada. They will never truly experience Chinese New Year celebrations, Tangra style, but Christmas is a good substitute.

The Positive Effects of Sharing Your Passion

My writing and my gym workout go hand in hand. Both are lifestyle changes that I’ve adopted. I write and I work out in the same way that my career is a way of life.

When I first decided to make exercise a part of my daily routine, I made some adjustments to my schedule. Five years later, I’m still waking up at 5 every morning to go to the gym. On weekends and holidays, I’m there as well, albeit a few hours later. Likewise, when I started to take my writing seriously during the last couple of years, I changed the way I use my commute time, lunch time and television time. See my blog dated December 4, 2012.

These lifestyle changes have lasted so long due to various factors. I believe that when you start sharing your passion with others, something wonderful happens. I am committed to my exercise regime not just because I feel refreshed after working out. More importantly, I interact with other members some of who are now also friends. I am missed when I don’t show up. We exchange ideas, encourage each other, and feed off on each other’s energy. These positive effects would be missing if I exercised by myself at home instead.

In the same way, when I went public with my writing, my motivation level went up. I let friends and colleagues read my work and I look forward to hearing their feedback, good or bad. I believe that one reason that my writing has grown is due to my having overcome the fear of letting others critique my work.

So if anyone reading this blog is still keeping their passion for something a secret, try including others in that circle. It could stoke your enthusiasm.