A Celebration of Buddha and Asian Culture

Last Sunday, on my way to the Barnes & Noble by Union Square, I was passing through the park and saw an event celebrating Buddhism called The Lotus Lantern Festival.

Lotus Lantern Festiva, Union Square, 2011.

A Buddha statue at the Lotus Lantern Festival, Union Square, 2011.

Buddhist statue with an elephant and Buddha.

I’m not really clear on the significance of the above statue, but people would step up to it, bow, and then use the dipper (you can just see the handle protruding from the bowl above the elephant) to scoop water from the bowl and pour it over the head of what I assume, by the lotus he’s standing on and the extended earlobes, to be a representation of Buddha.

A woman singing at the Lotus Lantern Festival, Union Square, 2011.

When I first walked up, a woman was singing. I don’t know what it was, or what it was about, because I missed the intro, but it sounded interesting, so I hung around for a while to see what else might happen.  After she sang, there was a demonstration of a traditional Korean dance.  I forget exactly what was said about it, but it was a celebratory dance related to successful agriculture, I think.

After I watched that, I walked through the park and just as I was getting to the other side, I started to hear Japanese pop music.  When I turned the corner, I saw there was a stage, with a live performance by a girl named Reni.

Reni onstage at the Annual Asian Culture celebration at Union Square, 2011.

On one side of the park was the solemnity of Buddhism, and on the other side of the park was Japanese pop culture, complete with cosplay and peace signs.  Weird combination.  Anyhow, I recorded one of her songs…

And then moved on past her booth…

Annual Asian Culture celebration at Union Square, 2011.

The Reni booth at the Annual Asian Culture celebration at Union Square, 2011.

…and happened to catch the tail end of a Chinese dragon dance and a martial arts display.


A martial arts display at Union Square Park during the Annual Asian Culture celebration, 2011.

I think it was called Wishun but I could be mistaken.

Japanese flag hanging in Union Square Park during the Annual Asian Culture Celebration, 2011.

I’m already looking forward to what I might see at the park this coming weekend.

Can I Have My Personal Space?

I was just thinking about the serious lack of personal space available in Singapore.  It’s become even more apparent now that I’m outside the country, in the Philippines.

The Philippines can be very crowded in places but I noticed something on the third day of being here: no one had bumped into me, pushed me out of the way, tried to shove past me, or tried to walk straight at me, expecting me to move for them.

I used to think that Singaporeans walk like bumper cars because it’s just so crowded there, but I realized that the reason must be something else entirely.  Is it a lack of situational awareness?  Are people so pacified there that they don’t pay attention to where they’re going?  Are they selfish to the point that they think everyone else will always make way for them?

A few weeks ago I was in Takashimaya and a woman walked out of a side passage, staring at something in the distance in the opposite direction from where I was approaching.  She just kept walking, straight across the walkway, without a care in the world, until the side of her face was twisted around by my shoulder slamming into it.  I kept going, without bothering to offer any sort of condolences for what would surely be sore chin, because it’s not my fault that she was too stupid to look where she was going.

On the other hand, here in the Philippines, people seem to naturally swerve and veer around each other without much of any problem.  There are exceptions, but it really is the exception, where in Singapore it seems to be the rule.

On top of that, people in Singapore tend to want to jostle past you in stores, or step in front of you when you’re looking at something on the shelf or rack, or they try to ram you out of the way instead of letting you get off the train before they attempt to board.  It’s not everyone of course.  There are exceptions, but they are exceptions, rather than the rule.

So, Singapore, I implore you to sort your problem out.  Pay attention to where you’re walking at least, because not everyone is going to jump out of your way and not everything will repel you gently when you walk into it because you can’t be bothered to pay attention to where you’re walking.