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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Holiday Spirits

A miscellaneous Tuesday in late March doesn't sound like a holiday, but there it is. It should be clear to anyone, I think, that our spiritual traditions are linked to the cosmic clock, or at least the one that keeps time in our own tiny solar system. So, Day 15 of the Second Lunar Month: a full moon, which I have come to associate with monthly direct reports with my supervisor; I thought I was done with somewhat unpleasant monthly cycles. But as it is a state holiday, I have the day off and the DR is postponed. So since it is not only the day honoring a Hawaiian prince (in the only state in the union that has official days honoring royalty), but also the birthday of Laozi and a festival day for the San Qing, the Three Pure Ones, I am off to Chinatown.  I need some good Chinese soy sauce to complement my stash of local Japanese-inspired Aloha brand, and I may succeed in my ongoing quest to find statuary of the San Qing, not really for myself, but for a FB Tao friend in the midwest where such things are harder to come by.

I am going to escort another friend, a French woman who shares my interest in Chinese painting, on a little walking tour of the shops and sights in Chinatown.  (I'm thinking of this as a dry run for actually escorting a group of like-minded folks in China itself.) Thirty years ago, this neighborhood was strange to me, when Popo, my aged Chinese next-door landlady took my arm for a tour, said "Call me Popo", and introduced me to her best noodle shop, her best duck shop, and her best bun shop.  She told the proprietors,"This is my friend, take care of her."  Popo liked us as tenants: "God always sends me Episcopalians," she said, weirdly. She was an Episcopalian, and we visited the Chinese Episcopal parish a few times.  A Hakka woman, likely first generation in Hawaii, she shared a lot of old Honolulu and China with me.  It was a blessing both ways, I guess. I used to answer her calls for help sometimes when her husband, seriously afflicted with Alzheimer's, had fallen or she needed something from Longs.  It only occurs to me now how horrible it would be to denounce your landlord. She was a shengren, really. We lived in her ohana house only for about two years, but it was a crucial part of our Hawaii adaptation.

Laozi, the San Qing, and the Anglican/Catholic Holy Week to boot!   Passover too, but that is not really part of my heritage (I think, although, one never knows, do one?), except in the Catholic echoes. I have Good Friday off as well, working for a Catholic institution as I do.

Popo would be proud. I will think of her today, surely passed on by now, an ohana ancestor, as I meander the old neighborhood. I am sure I will tell my French companion of things that have changed since Popo's tour.

I missed this year's New Year festival in Chinatown, but here are some images from 2012.  I don't think too much has changed in a year, but over 30, probably quite a bit.
Popo probably saw this building when it was first constructed.
Actually, I think Popo's grandchildren live in one of those high-rises in the back.
Protecting tradition.  That low building is probably worth several million bucks.


Kittie Howard said...

Popo brought a smile to my face. How fortunate you were to encounter such a lovely person at the right time. And, you're right, the celebrations look the same. (Love Chinatown!)

Enjoy your holiday!

baroness radon said...

She was a lovely person. She used to send my husband fatty pieces of duck because she thought I didn't feed him well. He complained because he was dieting; she said, "But it's low calorie fat!"