Blue Moon

I don't know if we should laugh or cry over China's Chang’e-4 lunar probe, the space programme named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology. In the space race with other superpowers, the United States and Russia, China reportedly plans to launch its own artificial moon by 2020 to replace streetlamps and lower electricity costs in urban areas. Illumination satellites which reflect light from the sun will be developed by Chengdu, a city in southwestern Sichuan province. The satellites which will shine together with the real moon but which will be eight times brighter will save an estimated $170 million a year in electricity costs for the city. The moon has long been known to affect the earth; its pull slows the Earth's rotation; thereby increases the length of the day by 2.3 milliseconds per century and its gravitational force changes the tides of oceans and lakes. Artificial moon may not bring such drastic effects perhaps but the story of Chang'e 's 嫦娥 husband,…

Booze in Chinese Wedding Banquets

A wedding planner in Singapore proposed this, that for a Chinese wedding banquet, the amount of the different beverages to buy would be in the ratio of 30% soft drinks, 35% wine, 15% hard liquor and 20% beer. Not every guest take alcohol but booze is a must for a Chinese wedding banquet, I suppose; not just for merry making purposes but also to cater for guests who choose to drink. In Singapore and definitely Malaysia and elsewhere too, Chinese couples getting hitched may get a headache deciding on the amount of alcohol to be bought. Just recently, I read about Malaysia's PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang criticising the government for not prohibiting Oktoberfest celebrations this year, saying that the Bavarian festival was against Muslim culture, claiming too that non-Muslims are free to celebrate any events that are not against their religious principles but that events must be reconciled with Muslim sensitivities and respect of Islam. Well, with due respect, what do you…

A Chinese Song: 我要你的愛 I Want Your Love

Ge Lan (葛蘭), or Grace Chang, the Hong Kong actress, singer and a popular idol of the 50s may be in her eighties and have retired long ago in the 60s but in the latest Hollywood hit, Crazy Rich Asians, you could hear her belting out one of her catchy, fast paced evergreens, 我要你的爱 I Want Your Love. Caught some of her movies in the Net and like especially the 1961 epic two parter,  Star, Moon and Sun 星星月亮太陽 and the 1957 Mambo Girl 曼波女郎. The latter has an all too simple plot but there is a strange feel good feeling when you listen to the catchy songs and watch especially the dance scene between Ge Lan and the male lead, the late Peter Chen Ho which reminds of Grease's John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. Ge Lan's 我要你的爱, I heard, is a cover of Louis Jordan's I Want to be your baby but really, the two songs do really sound as different as night and day to me. I would think that it's a cover of Georgia Gibb's  or Louis Prima's I want to be your baby though. What do y…

A Man Most Honoured

In the heart of Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur, there is a road called Yap Ah Loy Road. In school, we learnt that Yap Ah Loy,the Hakka man  who hailed from  Guangdong  province in southern China became the founder of the Malaysian capital. Yap Ah Loy was the third Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur, the leader of the Chinese community; and some men in the the street in a passing statement stated the third kapitan couldn't possibly be the founder; expecting the first kapitan to be the one, I suppose. A new book with supposedly new evidence; documents, maps, old pictures; however claims that Sutan Puasa, a prominent and influential Mandailing merchant was the actual founder.The history of Kuala Lumpur did not begin until the middle of the 19th century and that probably is not a very long time as far as world history is concerned and obscurity shouldn't have set in. The great-grandson of Yap Ah Loy, James Yap Mook San, said people were free to debate whether Yap was the founder of Kuala Lumpu…

Mooncake Festival Past

Just the other day, the moon was exceptionally big, bright and round. The moon seems to be exceptionally big, bright and round each year on the fifteenth day of the eight month of the lunar calendar; during the mooncake festival, the season for merry making. People eat mooncakes on this day and children carry lanterns and there is much merry making. Parties will be organised in some homes and in schools and Chinese associations too; besides lantern-making competitions. No wonder adults and children both love the festival. Empress Dowager Cixihad been known to enjoy it so much that she would stage elaborate rituals for several days and the children in Vietnam never have it better. The festival is dedicated to them. There, it is called the Children's Festival but I suppose, it would leave both children and adults sweet it leaves us ours...

Two Poets

Chuáng qián míngyuè guāng
Yí shì dìshang shuāng
Jǔtóu wàng míngyuè
Dītóu sī gùxiāngI've heard about Li Bai 李白, the famous Chinese poet from Tang Dynasty and his famed poem, Quiet Night Thoughts 靜夜思, said to reflect the nostalgia of a traveller away from home but Xu Zhimo 徐志摩? I first heard of him in 2000 from a Chinese school teacher who was a fan of the TV series April Rhapsody. The series was supposed to be based on his romantic life, albeit too short. It seem that Xu Zhimo is one of China's most renowned poets in the 20th century, a free-thinking one who strove to loosen Chinese poetry from its traditional forms, and to reshape it under the influences of Western poetry and the vernacular Chinese language. In his short life of 34 years, he was romantically linked with
Zhang Youyi, Lin Huiyin, and Lu Xiaoman, even American author Pearl S. Buck and American journalist Agnes Smedley.  Xu Zhimo died in a plane crash in 1931.Guess which is Li Bai, which is Xu Zh…

Mooncakes, Mooncakes, Everywhere

Mau Wei and I went to Aeon,  a shopping mall in Kamunting just the other day after watching the movie, Alpha in Taiping Mall. It's the eight month of the lunar calendar and Chinese all over the  world are celebrating Mooncake festival. At the two shopping malls, special booths selling mooncakes have been set up but strangely, Mau Wei chose to browse the ones in Aeon; first being attracted by the mooncake boxes and then by the mooncake fillings. Competition has been stiff these days. Not only are mooncakes being sold early, long before the actual festival begins; but the packaging and fillings are now also wide and varied. Long ago, boxes were not as elaborate and beautiful. I only remember mooncakes wrapped in white paper with red paper stickers.Mooncakes traditionally have fillings made from lotus seed , red bean, jujube or other nuts and seeds like walnuts, peanuts; but these days there are coffee, green tea, chocolate and other types of mooncakes imaginable, even durian mooncak…