Thursday, 2 April 2020

Zen Wisdom From A Hawker

This morning, I overheard a conversation from a wanton mee hawker to his customer,

"Can move in or not I don't even know!"

It suddenly struck me as a pearl of wisdom no different from the Zen quotes I've read.

First, the context.

This hawker is in his 70s. 

He stays in one of the Tanglin Halt HDB flats, and his hawker stall is also located at the Tanglin Halt Food Centre. 

In case you didn't know, the whole Tangling Halt "10 storey" area is under en-bloc. We would be moving out to our new replacement flats by end of this year.

For young people, en-bloc is good, better, best! 

Its a windfall and the oportunity to change old lamp to new lamp - just like that, the HDB lease is refreshed to 99 years again. Magic or what!? Talk about being blessed by the big daddy genie!

However, if you are in your 70s or 80s, not everyone is thrilled. Especially if you are not cash strapped for retirement.

I mean at that advanced age, wouldn't you prefer to stay in a familiar surrounding with your existing group of friends and neighbours? A place where you moved in just after marriage, have children, and brought them up to adults. Throw all these memories away just to make a buck?

Since our en-bloc was announced 5 years ago, every other month, there's always a funeral.

Which means not everyone can live till they've moved into their new place....

Nowadays, when I meet neighbours in the mornings buying breakfast, we would often ask each other when we would be moving out.

I guess this wanton hawker is a bit upset being asked for the umpteen time...

Hence his remark above.

But when you pause an think about it, there's a lot Zen in that statement.


  1. If he is zen,he won’t mind being asked. One foot in the grave liao, might anytime die before moving is 气话。
    Must always remind myself not to be so stubborn when I’m old.
    Look past money and health, what matters most is self-happy. Lol

    1. WolfT,

      Of course its 气话; I've already mentioned the hawker was probably upset after being asked for the umpteen time...

      Nevertheless his words, a direct translation from Hokkien, may have been intened as "sarcasm", but to me it has a lot of unintended Zen wisdom.

      "Can move in or not I don't even know!"

      Today don't know what will happen tomorrow.

      I think the events of these few weeks may have helped some appreciate this little Zen nugget a little better ;)

      P.S. Talking about being "lau kok kok" when its our turn. I hope I will continue to be a man of leisure:

      Why stand when you can sit? And why sit when you can lie down? 醉生梦死

      My happiness and spiritual well-being should not be determined by the markets or my net wealth.

      Like you've said, one foot in the grave still cannot let go?


  2. Not everybody is excited over enbloc and that why some enbloc with too many older folks will fail. Why need more money? For what?

    1. CW,


      When we have enough, and don't have hole-in-the-heart yearnings to plug, what's the point of trying to climb mountains all over again?


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