My mum is totally cool with tattoos, weird hair colours and me wanting to study art, but she also pushed me to attend math and music classes, both of which I detested. Every Saturday, I was forced to give up my evenings to go learn how to play the keyboard, even though I had no musical inclination. So every Saturday at exactly 3.45pm, I would arrive at this small, dingy mall called Beauty World Center to learn that my hands were far too small to play an instrument competently. The only thing that actually kept me sane was this quaint little store next door run by three Chinese men that sold stationery and other knick knacks at a really cheap price.
I always had 15 minutes before my class started, so for 10 minutes I would peruse the aisles of Grassland Bookstore looking for pencils, erasers or notebooks to buy. I would save up my lunch money, hong baos and any coins I found on the street to buy something from my little heaven. Eventually I ended up becoming friendly with one of the owners. He spoke very little English so I always conversed with him in Chinese, which improved my Chinese greatly. Sometimes when his brother wasn’t manning the cashier, he would always ‘forget’ to charge one of my items. It was our little secret. I missed the place when I moved to New York. Blick and Staples never had that same charm and warmth as Grassland Bookstore. I returned to the mall, after being away for four years, and was happy to see my little book store was still there. I was even happier when the owner recognised me and happily welcomed me back as I peruse the aisles of my little heaven.