Showing posts from March, 2019

To Pick an Officer

In Jian Sui, Kunming, China, I had the opportunity to visit a very old educational institution where the defunct ancient imperial examination used to be held. The examination to pick government officials was tough and one often had to study hard, burned the midnight oil even to prepare for it. Invigilators for the examination had to sit very high up in a specially built platform so that they could detect would be cheaters. Even before the examination started, the candidates were checked thoroughly,  stripped and given a proper bath and have their ears checked for notes that could be smuggled into the examination hall. I suppose not every Tom, Dick or Harry could be a government official. To build a country, government officials must be carefully chosen based on merits and definitely not based on race, religion or creed.

Helping Hands

When and who would pay HK$10 million for a meal? Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka Shing would and that was in a restaurant which collects left over food to cater for the poor, the elderly and the needy. It was not just the billionaire who lends the restaurant a helping hand. Several Hong Kong film stars including Jacky Cheung Hok Yau helped out in their own special ways. Once a while, I'd hear people accusing Chinese of being stingy and racists. Kind acts which prove otherwise happen go unnoticed. As in the recent case of the shock tragedy in Christchurch, New Zealand where a white youngster attacked and massacred Muslims during Friday prayers-  A Chinese delegation in Auckland for a convention had raised over $1 million for families of the mosque attack victims. It makes me wonder if Muslims from the Middle East or elsewhere have offered any help, monetary or otherwise; and if Muslims in China are being persecuted.

Umbrella Story

An umbrella, that apparatus to protect a person against rain or sunlight; we have it one too many that sometimes we forget it is a very useful ancient invention. Ladies in ancient Greece used it and most probably women of the Gupta period in Ancient India too. In the tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shihuang; a Terracotta Army carriage has an umbrella securely fixed to the side. side The umbrella in ancient Greece or India however wasn't a collapsible umbrella, the one with bendable joints. That most probably was a Chinese invention. A 1270 AD late Song dynasty Chinese divination book features a picture of a collapsible umbrella very unlike today's umbrella. This Chinese design has spread later to Japan via Korea and to Persia that is modern Iran, and the Western world via the Silk Road.

A Chinese Song: The Olive Tree 橄欖樹

Just the other day, I saw Chyi Yu or Qi Yu 齊豫 on TV.  The sight of the Taiwanese folk-pop singer immediately reminded me of The Olive Tree 橄欖樹, Chyi's 1979 hit. The lyrics of the song was based on an English poem written by Sanmao, a Chinese writer. The poem is about a small donkey which the writer had encountered on a plain in Spain. Interestingly, the song was called The Olive Tree and not The Donkey or something like that and I suppose, that was because in translating the poem into Mandarin, the donkey had been intentionally ommited as it was thought that it would not appeal to the Taiwanese fans. Since then, the song has been covered by others including , Taiwanese Fei Yu Ching, Singaporean Stefanie Sun and Chinese-American heart-throb Fei Xiang.

More Chinese Songs....

Earthen Building

Oh, so the Hakka 客家, one of the Han Chinese groups differs from the other Han Chinese groups in that they are not named after a geographical region in China. During the recent Chinese New Year, I happened to see a model of tulou 土楼  in Sunway Pyramid, Kuala Lumpur. Tulou refers to dwellings unique to the Hakka. The model in Kuala Lumpur was small and circular and did not have walls of earth; so, I suppose calling it tulou or earthen building wasn't really appropriate. But then, of course it was just a model and understandably too, it was not as big. A real tulou could house up to 800 people. Sometimes rectangular, sometimes circular, it could also be  three to five stories high. Inside, there may be a smaller building housing halls, storehouses, wells and living areas and reminds of a small fortified city. I remember some of my friends visiting tulou in Fujian, China about a year or two ago. Built between the 12th and the 20th centuries, the ones in the mountainous areas in southe…