Thursday, September 30

Moon Cakes

Let's play a game, shall we?  I say a phrase, you say the first thing that comes to mind...

Ok, The Mid-Autumn Festival.

Moon cakes. 

I never knew it was the first thing that came to my mind until I searched for it in my memories tonight.  It was like holding down Ctrl+F, encoding 'moon cake', and coming up with this first memory in a folder I've long since forgotten I had.  In this memory's movie, I see my hands flattening out dough into small squares and wrapping sugar in it and folding it just-so to make moon-shaped cakes.  My fuzzy memory knows I made this with a Korean co-teacher of mine - I know she taught me how to make it and told me why it was made.  I can almost feel the place the memory was set in, almost breathe in the smells of the house, almost see her... but memory will not allow more than that in this snippet.  And so I content myself in this thought: I have good memories of a festival I do not celebrate.  And that gives me warm feelings and all is well.

About a decade later, I find myself in another country with another set of teachers, celebrating this festival.  More people, less intimate, and no food.  No actual real food for my tummy - but, boy, did my soul feed!

It fed off beauty showcased by smiling students as they filed past wearing their sweet Chinese clothes.  It fed off beauty as the melodious voices of the presenters recounted the story of the man and his wife and the pill which led to the festival.  


It fed off beauty as another teacher, in another country, in another life showed me how love for her country, her culture, her people, allows her to shake off all reservations as she performed for her students.

After today, I would think, I wouldn't know which to say first when one says "The Mid-Autumn Festival."  There is no way I can find a way to decide which one is a better memory: the quiet making of moon-cakes with a girl in an old kitchen in Vietnam or the passionate display of dance & culture as a dancer moved onstage in Jakarta.

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