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Macao, May 29, 2013

Though Macao casinos never get me remotely excited, I am super content to catch up with an old Hongkong friend who has been working in Macau for the last 10 years. Having told him about the Venetian maze and my inability to navigate, he asks me to wait for him at the main lobby which is supposed to be the easiest place to find in this confusing complex.

6:30pm I make my way towards the direction of the main lobby. At least that’s where the arrow points. Not for long do I find myself lost in a casino with frozen-faced dealers, tense & tired looking gamblers, and idle & lost looking shadows of opportunists waiting around for the next bingo. After all, it is the City of Dreams for some….

No one looks at anyone. No one talks to anyone. All eyes are on the bets.

I finally make it through the must-pass institution of dreams and make it to the other side of darkness, though it never leaves me. Faces of despair, anxiety, loss, and anger sadden my heart as I walk out to a Renaissance walk-way of painted walls and ceilings.

My friend, Paul takes me to one of the so-called finest Japanese restaurant at the Grand Lisboa. Portugese, he says, seems a bit heavy for a small-eater like myself even though it is considered local food. “Sure” I say. With an old friend by one’s side, any food will do. As we are seated next to a Chinese couple, I couldn’t help but notice the awkward silence between them. The lady keeps taking photos of whatever on the table to share on whichever social networks. The guy is lost. He gives a bored look around just to find nothing entertaining. I certainly never look entertaining enough! And so he reluctantly picks up his phone, keeping himself busy with the smart screen. Neither looks at each other. Not a word uttered. All eyes are on the screen.

“Let’s get out of here!” I request. I’d rather be on the streets where I can see life. And out we walk, through the old heritage quarter of Macau. Deja-vu! Amidst the bad tastes of flashing neon lights and glassy modern buildings are gorgeous relics of the blended Portugese and Chinese architectures, the old Portugese school, the elegant post office, the bold administrative building, the breath-taking Ruins of St. Paul cathedral, and my God! the creepy-looking but awe-inspiring red street with ancient Chinese houses, all painted in red! For the first time in Macau, I can feel the city….

The night ends up for us at a 30-year old small and quaint Chinese sweet shop on one of the tiny lane ways for almond and egg white sweet soup. Paul goes on and on about the heritage of Macau. At least we share the same topics. We both love heritage and culture.

Paul sends me back to the City of dreams at midnight. The dreams are obviously getting more alive as the night runs out. Thousands of mayflies float around, hoping to be burnt. No one looks. No one talks. All eyes are on the bets.

Why are they here on earth? Have they ever thought about a purpose in life?

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