The old saying that cautions us to be careful for what we wish for keeps coming to mind.   “I wish I had more time off” is a common refrain, glibly said without thinking of the repercussions; sadly for many the wish may have come true with these days of un-paid leave, or worse, jobs lost completely. 

“I wish I could spend more time with family” – we’ve all expressed that wish at one time or other.  But for many, cooped up and working from home is taking its toll; a woman I met recently said that their husband who usually commutes to Hong Kong has been working from home for almost a year and ‘is losing it!’ test

“I wish it was easier to get a taxi” was the general cry in Macau for those wanting a quick trip from A to B.  The pre-Covid lines of customers waiting for a taxi have now been replaced by long, depressing-looking queues of taxis at times trailing round the block and I have to admit my heart goes out to them; how do they keep their businesses going with the odd MOP30 ride here and there when they too have rents to pay?

“I wish the pavements were not so crowded” … we residents would curse the high days and holidays when we were over-run with tourists and walking around central Macau has become known as the “Senado Shuffle”.  But the other day, strolling back to my office down Ave. de Almeida Ribeiro, the pavements were virtually empty of the usual throngs.  San Ma Lo and turning down into Rua dos Mercadores, usually a bustling shopping area, is looking decidedly sad with almost every other ground floor shop shuttered and plastered with multiple agents’ signs advertising For Sale and For Rent.  A coffee shop that opened in the area last year paying MOP100K rent per month moved to try their luck elsewhere when their landlord insisted, inspite of Covid, on a 50% rent hike.  No surprise if that place along with at least 6 nearby shops continue to stand empty for the next year.

2020, the Chinese year of the Rat that brought us sickness across the globe has now thankfully died.

We learned some tough lessons these past 12 months.  Its been a time of great sadness, loss and loneliness for many.  Our outlook on life has altered   In the wise words of a friend, “true enlightenment however is not a sprint along a pretty path but often a brutal endurance marathon that many would rather avoid and this year has been a particularly steep uphill stretch.   Let’s hope that 2021 brings some relief, that we hit a flat stretch with the wind to our backs and a cooling breeze to our brows.”

After a year of anxiety what can we expect from the new year of the hardworking, methodical and tenacious Ox?  The Chinese almanacs predict that 2021 is going to be a year when we will fully feel the weight of our responsibilities, a year when we will need to double our efforts and manage our time closely to accomplish anything at all.  Apparently it will be a favourable year for economic recovery or consolidation, a year of long-term investments, especially for creating a reserve stock for the coming unproductive years.

To all Macau Closer readers, my hope for you is that you have a safe, happy and prosperous year ahead.  As the saying goes, happiness isn’t about getting what you wish for all the time; it’s about loving what you have and being grateful for it.    Happy New Year 2021…