What I learnt from the earthen stove

A good friend of mine, Reena Tang wrote this good piece for you… 🙂

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“Those who won’t believe in magic, will never find it”, Roahl Dahl – one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century once said.  Despite of his often dark humor and unexpected ending storyline, his plot comes with fantasy element.As we know, nothing interesting is ever completely one-sided.

Same as life.

Bangkok Skyscraper

Bangkok Skyscraper

Living in the big cities like Bangkok, every inch of space living costs a dime. The condominium space for the first jobber or middle class white collar worker nowadays starts with the size of 25-35 sq.m. with studio or one bedroom. It looks like we are very much following the trend of big cities like Tokyo or Hong Kong, where the population have to adjust their life to fit in with the small limited space. If you were born in the city and living in a small space since you were able to count A B C, then you may feel it is such a normal living condition. However, if you are coming from the countryside like me, your first moment toward to the situation can be totally different.

Chinese annual festival two decades ago in Thailand

Chinese annual festival two decades ago in Thailand

I grew up in the big Chinese-Thai family and what I recall from my childhood is that we had the very big backyard filled with paddy field and living space that large enough for four kids to play hide and seek. Even the paddy field was not belong to my family, we were still benefited from the area either by just seeing the field or running to play nearby. Because most of the neighborhoods know each other, many times the public and private space can be just like a thin line. The two lanes road could turn to be the parade pavement for the community fairs, the school sports or an ordination at any time. We could also observe the generosity of villagers from their large kitchen space. They gathered together to cook and share food for an important occasion such as wedding or funeral.

cooking in earthen stove :)

cooking in earthen stove 🙂

Bangkok traffic

Bangkok traffic

During those days, we cooked everything with the Chinese brazier or earthen stove. The challenging of using this stove is that you have to plan accordingly which dish should cook first or later and then you adjust the fire by either adding or reducing the charcoal or using a fan to stir up the fire. It is more like an art combination with the skill to ensure that whatever on the stove is well done. Compare with an electric or gas stove nowadays, the earthen stove takes much more time and can be far off “modern convenience”. Despite many of its limitation, people are still using it.The reason? Those who are grilled meat lover are likely the best group to know that the authentic smell of the charcoal is much more tempting than anything else.So the effort pays off.

Thai cuisin

Thai cuisin

The story of the earthen stove reminds me that life always encounter with various limitations but it’s up to ourselves on how we manage those factors.  When I relocated to Bangkok and moved into my 5×5 sq.m. room, I have only one rice cooker and one pot to cook everything.My story may resemble to many other people who move to the city for their education or career advancement. There can be a lot to leave behind. But after all this year I found that living with less space can only mean living with less possessions, but not less happiness.

The magic is always lied in our own heart and hand.

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