Monday, February 14, 2011

Rejoice in price-less celebrations

AVOIDED buying white pomfret (bawal tambak in Malay or tau tai cheong in Cantonese) this year although the price was cheaper than last year's at the pasar tani I had gone to.

My wife also decided to forgo banana prawns, the crustaceans sought after by the Chinese during the Lunar New Year for its auspicious significance. The giant prawns were so ridiculously priced, at RM80 per kilo a week before New Year's day, that I felt I could do without the prosperity dish if it meant making fishmongers prosperous first.

We avoided buying dried meat from a famous shop in the city centre - not only because the prices had gone up but the queue was painfully long.

Although the shop's dried meat was my daughter's favourite, we decided that standing for more than an hour in a queue is a price not worth paying for.

Ever counted how often we have allowed ourselves to be drawn into festive buying frenzies only to regret later that we had bought things we can ill-afford or don't need?

Through herd mentality, how often have we allowed ourselves be fooled by marketers playing on our emotional weaknesses and superstitious beliefs? Regardless of our religious inclination, educational background, or creed, gullibility gets the better of us sometimes.

Today, I am sure the hopeless romantic in us will be paying for roses through our noses. It is Valentine's Day, in case you have forgotten. And yes, another excuse to splurge. Never mind if the roses cost you an arm and a leg -- you can still hop into work the next day, hopefully.

Luckily, Valentine's Day does not fall on Chap Goh Meh. If it did, one city pub owner tells me, business might suffer if Chinese lovebirds chose to celebrate the Chinese version of the lover's day by flocking to bridges and throwing oranges into rivers instead of going to pubs and fine-dining restaurants.

We can point fingers at commercial brainwashing for all the hype that are burning holes in our pockets but I think we have only ourselves to blame for succumbing to price hikes during festive seasons.

In the case of Feb 14, which is a multi-million ringgit industry flooded with cards, presents, and flowers, we should perhaps allow heads to rule our hearts instead.

Isn't it ridiculous to associate the price of gifts or number of roses you receive or give away with the level of affection? Why show love and affection only on this day when it is perfectly all right to do so on any day of the year -- and with less strain on the pocket?

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