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Mandarin Oranges Mystery Solved

During Chinese New Year, it’s customary for mandarin oranges to be exchanged when visiting homes. The gifting of oranges to and fro signifies prosperity and other well wishes being shared to all and is a wonderful tradition I remember beyond the red packets, multitude of cookies and goodies during my favourite festive season. When growing up, I often recall my parents buying boxes of big luscious mandarin oranges, so much larger than the size of my palms and often shiny-looking while ever so fragrant. 
 
What confused me was why we start the 15 days of festivities with these oranges and in just 2 days, ended up with odd-sized, rough-skinned and somewhat dried oranges - the sort you won’t want to eat or bring to your next visit. How could this be possible when we’ve met only loved ones and good friends and I cannot imagine any of them consciously giving us “unhappy” oranges (as I used to think of them). In the first place, who would buy these grumpy looking oranges to start with?
 
This year, I finally know how this happens.
 
2015 Year of the Sheep is the first year I buy our own mandarin oranges for our Ziady household and I even offered to spilt a box with my parents, since we don’t need that many ourselves. Rushing around town after my coaching work, cramming most of my shopping in 1.5hours just 2 days before New Year’s Eve got me to Bugis Junction Cold Storage. The selection of oranges wasn’t huge, just pre-packed boxes and sorted by size, quantity and price. Never one to like opening up boxes to look through every orange, I grabbed a box of 18 large mandarin oranges (individually bagged and packed in a screaming-red and gold box) and headed to the cashier. I should have known something was wrong when she asked me if I had inspected every orange in the box. I replied, “Really? Who would? Anyways, what am I expecting to find?” 
 
As the story goes, I didn’t take the time to do so and came home to discover 1 already going mouldy in it’s plastic bag. Another 4 didn’t look the same size like the others but the rest were fine. We kept 7 and gave the best 10 to my parents. My mum had bought a batch previously, so at my parent’s house, I realised that the ones I bought were smaller. Surely not “Extra Large” or “Super Fancy” or “Jumbo Mumbo” - who knew there were so many sizes to choose from? Anyways, too late, it was already New Year’s Eve, party on!
 
Day 1, our oranges still looked ok. Boldly Exchanged.
 
Day 2, holding it together somehow. Somehow Traded Up.
 
Day 3, hardly attractive. Slowly Left Behind.
 
Needless to say, this year, I am the one offering less than desired mandarin oranges. The tropical weather and heat in Singapore doesn’t help. What kind of supplier sells oranges that turn bad so quickly? Where are the nice-looking oranges for purchase now? And in the first place, who would buy these grumpy looking oranges to start with - er..rrr me.
 
Oh well, Gong Xi Fa Cai!!

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest.
I do not judge the universe.

- Dalai Lama