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Showing posts from January, 2010

A Lovely Gesture

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The Western world has Saint Nicholas, more popularly known as Santa Claus, the legendary figure who brings gifts to the homes of the good children during the late evening and overnight hours of Christmas Eve on December 24 and on his Feast Day too, on December 6, otherwise known as St. Nicholas Day. The Chinese has Cai Shen (財神), the Chinese god of prosperity to make his round during the Chinese New Year celebrations. Often referred to as Zhao Gong Ming (Chao Kung-ming) or Bi Gan (Pi-kan), Cai Shen started as a Chinese folk hero but was later deified and venerated by Chinese. In Bangsar, Malaysia, Cai Shen made a surprised appearance (inset). In conjunction with the coming Chinese New Year on February 14, a group of Chinese youths had handed out oranges to Muslims who had just performed their Friday prayers in Saidina Abu Bakar As-Siddiq mosque. Orange in Chinese, phonetically sounds like gold and the youths had wished the Muslims would be bestowed with prosperity and happiness. It wa…

An Attempt at Chinese Painting

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Not too long ago, I was at Popular bookshop in Taiping, browsing through the books when I met who else but my former Chinese painting teacher. His son had grown tremendously tall but he had looked the same after all these years. My Chinese painting skills, sad to say, had remained the same too. I remember my teacher teaching us to draw on papers used for making kites and using black Chinese ink and some cheap coloured paints that came in a box like those water colours in the shops. We, some aunties and I, were taught to draw rocks initially and progressed on to plum blossoms, crysanthemums, Chinese bamboos and lotuses. Our teacher made it so easy and it was theoretically -A few simple strokes could create all those beautiful images but mind you, there must be still some inborn skills involved and lots of discipline,too. The aunties in the class usually came in after doing their marketing and would rush off to cook after the hour or so lesson. They were bored housewives, I suppose, but…

A Truly Bizzare Story

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The report of a bizarre incident involving two women in Malaysia driving from Malacca to Kuala Lumpur with the corpse of an Indonesian maid in their car reminds me of a 2007 Chinese movie which I was fortunate enough to catch in Astro, a paid TV channel. Getting Home's (inset) original Chinese title, Lùo yè gūi gēn is a Chinese proverb which means A falling leaf returns to its roots. The Zhang Yang directed movie stars Chinese comedian Zhao Benshan as a farmer who tries to bring home the body of his friend who died far from his village. Penniless, he cannot afford to ship his friend home the normal way and resorts to taking him home in a public bus. A robber strikes and suddenly the other passengers realise that there is a dead man on board. They then kick the farmer and his friend off the bus and thus begins his long adventure on the road where he meets many interesting people, some of whom were kind enough to help him in his journey home. At the 2007 Berlin International Film Fe…

Joy is a jade ring!

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Joy is a ring!

(Pic taken in Taiping, Malaysia. 2009)

No, this is not about 'Ringu' or the 'Ring, the 1998 Japanese horror flick starring Nanako Matsushima, Hiroyuki Sanada andRikiya Otaka or its 2002 United States remake - It's about a jade ring. Jade incidentally has a history as long as the Chinese civilization. Jade objects have been found as early as the Neolithic period (about 5000 BC), in Zhejian Province, and from the middle and late Neolithic period along the Lao River, the Yellow River, and in the Tai Lake region in China. The love story between the Chinese and jade continues till this day and Chinese love jade not just for its beauty, but its purity and grace. While gold to the Chinese is valuable, jade is said to be invaluable! For more of simple joyful things in life, visit Simple Joys!

Chinese HIndus

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One day, I was waiting for my niece to pick me up. I was just back from Kuala Lumpur. There was a crowd in the distance. Hey, there was a procession! A group of Indian men were playing drums. There was a celebration in a Hindu temple somewhere in Taiping and most probably the devotees were taking the deity round town. When the procession passed me, I was astounded to find that a big portion of the devotees were Chinese youths. A few had their bodies hooked with something sharp. It was like they were carrying kavadis and there was a mini Thaipusam. Most Chinese in Malaysia claim to be Buddhists but their religions are actually mixed up. They are more Taoists. It is common however, to see most of them converging to Buddhist temple on Vesak Day but going all out to a Hindu Temple? A lady there had told me that the youths had helped their Indian friends to celebrate. That I think was a beautiful gesture but I wouldn't be surprised if those Chinese were Hindus. I have come across two w…

Unsung Heroes

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Most Chinese would know Sun Yat-sen(inset), the founder and leader of China's Kuomintang but Li YuTang? When I came across this character in the latest Hong Kong star-studed movie in town, Bodyguards and Assassins which starred Donnie Yen, Leon Lai and Eric Tsang among others, I had first thought Li YuTang to be the nominee for the Nobel Prize of Literature, Lin YuTang who wrote the delightful The Importance of Living. The former however was a businessman who provided financial aids for revolutionaries during the turbulent period when the Qing Dynasty was crumbling. In the movie, Bodyguards and Assassins, Empress Dowager Cixi of Qing Dynasty supposed sends assassins to kill Sun Yat-sen who in Hong Kong to discuss his plans for revolution with with fellow Tongmenghui members. Revolutionary Chen Shaobai seeks Li Yutang's help who then rallies a group of men, including rickshaw pullers, hawkers and a beggar, to serve as bodyguards for Sun Yat Sen when he arrives. Like Chen Shaoba…