A Rainy Saturday

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

I don’t have anything to write about. It drizzles all day today–a misty, windless, grey world outside–but I don’t feel the usual melancholy on a day like this. Instead the random raindrops on the window pane seem to form a mystical pattern, the temperature hovers around the pleasant 70F, and the weather is a little damp but not humid, a little dim but not gloomy, a little disappointing but with a little more willingness to go grocery shopping, one can easily overcome the inconvenience.

And of course the Asian grocery store we often visit looks just as sad as usual. It has none of its former glory with streaming shoppers, endless fruit displays, discount durians, several shelves of rice noodles and tofu in varied forms. Now shoppers have all fled to mainstream American stores for better prices , leaving the Asian stores unloved and unfrequented. The vegetables here are about to wilt but still struggle to look in their last gasp of freshness; expensive fruits are piled in boxes, waiting to rot and to be thrown out; the food court is half abandoned, tables and chairs stacked on one side. The pandemic and the inflation have somehow transformed the once thriving Asian grocery business here–I’ve never seen such a scene of desolation before.

Observing this, I would have felt dejected before, but I don’t feel as forlorn today. I don’t know why. Recently I’ve been quite positive and optimistic, not my usual sulky, mournful self, probably because I’ve been reading more cheerful books, watching more videos on psychology, and talking more about the dark corners of my thoughts unashamedly with friends. The unpromising Asian grocery stores have not affected my mood and saddened my heart, but rather I thought of it as the normal ups and downs we have to endure if we run non-mainstream ethnic businesses here. It has a more risky cycle of boom and bust; it’s more sensitive towards economic fluctuations; its finance is probably more fragile and its resources less resourceful. Yet life goes on and it tests our endurance for difficulties and our ability to handle insecurity.

Eventually I go to Trader Joe’s for some fresh vegetables. I will not touch those mini potato medley packages with bite sized potatoes in red, purple, and yellow. Why do I want to pay the double price for a bit of color? For the same reason, I will not touch the packages of yellow and purple carrots. I remember watching a standup comedy which says, “Asians don’t pay for atmosphere,” meaning we don’t like to go to expensive restaurants just for the pleasant ambience. I wonder what we like to pay for. As immigrants, we like to work hard to make money no matter how boring it is and no matter how crazy we become after working on a boring job day in and day out. This is life. We all have to pay one way or another.

I have nothing to write today, but I have just cooked a whole pot of red bean soup–the best elixir for a rainy day.


7 thoughts on “A Rainy Saturday

  1. I always find your observations on the Asian mentality very interesting. One thing occurs to me. You are from Mongolia – so to what extent can you identify with somebody from south China or Vietnam say? Perhaps it is the fact that you are all immigrants – otherwise you would have less in common? (Brits are quite different from Italians if we think of it in European terms.) Is there something apart from being immigrants that binds you together – some non-Western mindset? I guess there must be, but it’s strange and interesting that it operates over such a huge geographical area with so many diverse peoples. Does it extend to India, Pakistan? Does it end where the Islamic works begins or – on the other side – in Polynesia? I met a Maori in New Zealand who was very keen to stress that she wasn’t an “Asian”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. I have to say there are so many different Asians around here that often you can see them talking in English to each other. I say “Asian” just because I am too lazy to get into the details of the divisions, which are numerous. I guess my claim to any comprehension of South China or Southeast Asia is that I am learning a bit of Cantonese(for years and progress very little) and Thai. And I like their food. LOL. Anyway, in the greater NY area, there are so many different divisions for each ethnic group. I mean even white people here are in divisions like Italian, Irish, Jews, Greeks, Eastern Europeans. I don’t know why people group Eastern Europeans together here. I guess it is because the fact that there used to be a Soviet bloc etc. Many of them are scientists working in Rutgers U. And a name or a category can be so arbitrary since there are so many finer shades and subgroups underneath.

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