Showing posts from September, 2018

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…

Wise Move

So, Ma Yun 马云, more popularly known asJack Ma; Chinese business magnate, investor, philanthropist and e-commerce company Ali Baba's big boss is going to retire; handing the baton over to Daniel Zhang Yong. Someone sent me pictures of Jack when he was young, dirty and poor. His was supposed to be a rags to riches story. I remember another time someone else sent me a story about him commenting about why a monkey would choose a banana over money. About Bill Gates, he saidhe could never be as rich as him but the one thing he could do better was to retire earlier, preferring to die not in an office but on a beach. Now, that probably was a smart, wise man making his wisest move yet.

Food for Moon Cake Festival

In Cantor, Vietnam, I was surprised when our young Vietnamese guides treated us to some leng kak. I think that's what the seeds of the water caltrop are called in Hokkien, the dialect I speak at home. Leng kak means the horns of the dragon and the water caltrop seeds do seem to have two sharp horns but no, they don't look like dragon, more like batman's emblem. Besides moon cakes, pomeloes and taro, I remember the seeds were also served during moon cake festival.The water caltrop is not found locally and the seeds are imported from China. Coming from such faraway place, not surprising then, I often found the seeds stale and tasteless. In Cantor, I was surprised not just to find the seeds soft and tasty but it wasn't even moon cake season yet. I had thought that the seeds are only available during moon cake festival. Silly me!
Well, are you reminded of Batman?

Names of Chinese Business Premises

Not too long ago, I was with my nephew in Selangor. A shop with the name  Magic Boo caught my eyes. I thought that was a strange name  and  commented that Chinese don't name their shops the way they did in the good old days, citing old fashioned names like Heap Huat,  Sin Guan Heng,  Aun Tong,  Soon Lee and the likes; names that bear auspicious Chinese words. My comments drew chuckles from my nephew. I did not cite names like Dream World or Wonderland which appeared later in the 90s or names like Sri Larut and Maju Jaya. I wonder if my nephew would chuckle the way he did if I did that or narrate to him the latest story about the Municipal Council officers in Muar, Johor, instructing Chinese shop owners to erase the red Chinese characters on the pillars of their shops which bear their shops' name as the Chinese words were bigger than the ones in Malay. What a twist to the story about names of Chinese business premises.

A Chinese Song: 何日君再來

One of the highlights of the latest Hollywood hit, Crazy Rich Asians, which starred Constance Wu and Henry Golding, perhaps is, or rather are the many Mandarin songs which seem to flow out from the screen at every given opportunity. It started very early, at the beginning of the movie to be exact, with 何日君再 來, When will the gentleman return?Teresa Teng Li Yun sang the song and it became very popular in China and elsewhere in the world where there are Chinese population; but she was merely covering Zhou Xuan's original in the 1937 movie Three Stars by the Moon 三星伴月. The song was composed by Liu Xue'an in an impromptu song-composing competition and had since grown from strength to strength. Despite drawing controversies, the lyrics interpreted as anti-Japanese, treasonous, pornographic; and even banned at one time or another in the People's Republic of China and Taiwan, the song has been well-loved by many and had been covered by many artistes including Li Xiang Lan,Claire K…