In this memory, I am four years old. A few weekends a month, my family drive to a large shopping mall in the suburb to buy things that we cannot find in our neighbourhood shops. Once there, my mother handles the shopping with my baby bother on a shopping cart while my father takes the responsibility of “baby-sitting” me since this shopping typically takes a few hours.
My father and I always follow the same routine. We first make a brief visit to the bookstore where my father buys a few books of his interest and one for me. We then head to a fast food restaurant called Dom Dom where we spend the rest of our time sitting and reading.
But on the way there, we make one more stop. It is a children’s play section with a merry-go-round, a small train, and other pieces of fun play equipment. We are not going to play there, however. Instead, my father and I stop in front of the row of toy vending machine.
“Which one do you want to try?” My father asks me.
I have two favourites. One of them is a vending machine where I can get a big picture card of a scene from the anime TV series Sailor Moon. The other is one where I can get a colourful super bouncing ball. I choose one of these two depending on my mood.
Then I insert the coin my father has given me.
The fun part of this experience is that I do not get to choose which card or which ball. Like lottery, the machine picks one for me, and I love the surprise that comes at the end. As the music plays on the machine, I wait in anticipation which picture card or which coloured ball will pop out of the dispenser.
Sometimes, I get the same one as I have gotten before, and I am a little disappointed. But sometimes, I get one that I really like, making me jump with delight.
We then head to our final destination, Dom Dom, to enjoy the outcome of our treasure hunt over soft drinks and French fries.