A Little Unknown

There is something about myself that most of my friends don’t know. I had a particular skill set that wasn’t useful at this point of my life, something I picked up when I was much younger. It was during the trip back to Singapore when I visited Rochor Centre, that it brought back some memory. I was wondering around Rochor Centre taking photographs and chanced upon this Chinese religious trading shop; a man was sitting there writing calligraphy on the red lantern. And yes, for those that don’t know, I can write Chinese calligraphy, in traditional Chinese character and only on round objects.

I used to help out my dad in his business, which deals with Chinese religious stuff. One of the jobs I did was to paste Chinese characters of divine’s name on the red banner, which devotees from temple groups will bid or auction during a religious ceremony. It is thought to bring good luck and prosperity to the family who would hang the red banner with a pair of lantern outside their house or business. The seventh lunar month was the busiest time of the year, and in some cases, I was forced to help out with the calligraphy part on the lantern. The more I do it, the better it gets, and before I knew it, I was doing it for a few years.

I had a chat with the man writing calligraphy on the lantern at Rochor Centre, about the future of this trade, competitiveness from the China imports, and my dad (they knew each other). Before I left, I asked to take a photograph of what he is doing, as documentation. In another decade, we probably wouldn’t see a scene like this again, he agreed.

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