Ancient Speed Dating Is Painfully Slow

China didn’t have Speed Dating organizers back in those days, I guess. I attended a Speed Dating event once. I wrote an article about my experience at the Speed Dating meet but forgotten where I published it. Will find it later.

That Chap Goh Meh night, girls were busy writing their Facebook user name, mobile number and age on a mandarin orange before throwing it into the lake. Hopefully, they used water proof marker pens. Heh. I always suspect the custom was invented by traders to sell unsold oranges.

I didn’t like what I saw. In spite the trouble by the girls, boorish guys were trawling the lake with scoop nets. They then inspect each scooped up orange briefly and discarded the rejected ones back into the lake as quickly. So insulting for the girl still standing there. I wonder if it was the Fb username that didn’t meet the criteria.

It is also an insult to an ancient tradition. Such losers, these bunch of guys at Taman Jaya.

Understanding The Chinese Psyche

It is a Hokkien (Fujian dialect) term you will hear a lot during Chinese New Year. It goes with the Chinese obsession with prosperity and luck in the form of riches via a windfall. Chinese folks like to gamble, be it at home card games, on mahjong tables or at casinos. So “huat” is like a clarion call and a good luck greeting.

It is not exclusive to Chinese New Year, though. I remember when the deities at the Nine Emperor Gods festival were paraded, every joss stick toting devotee was shouting “Huat Ah!” at the top of their lungs. So was the crowd when the ominous looking Hell Keeper’s deity was lifted for burning during Por Tor or the climax of the Hungry Ghost month.
Huat means ‘to prosper’ as in Fatt in Cantonese. So Huat Ah!

Sony A7R, ISO 160, f4, 1/250 sec

#culture #custom #chinese #hokkien #fujian #huat #prosper #neg #twilight #sunset

The Reunion Dinner

Its cultural significance is similar to the Thanksgiving dinner of the West. The modern families are separated by obligations of career and marriage. Hence the yearly rush back to hometowns to reunite for the dinner. In China, the exodus can result in traffic jams hundreds of miles long and at one time, it lasted for weeks.

Nu Sentral put up an interesting mock up of the traditional reunion dinner table setting when I visited. The dishes were sampuru or Japanese fake or plastic display food. Reunion feast usually includes sumptuous dishes like prawns and steamed chicken meant for the prayer altar, fish and tinned abalone, mushrooms stir fried with mixed vegetables. Missing here is the customary soup. There are no hard and fast rules and the dishes cooked or served can vary according to household and family custom.

The reunion dinner custom serves more than eating. Daughter-in-laws face pressure when they are required to demonstrate their cooking skills. The sitting down is a time to catch up on news of siblings and relatives. It is also a time when younger members are interrogated on marriage and expectancy of babies for newly married couples, Thus, it is an event not always look forward to by all.

Panasonic Lumix GM-1, ISO 1000, f4, 1/60 sec.

#reuniondinner #sample #sampuru #cny #asian #custom #food #culture #dinner #table #chinesecustom #nusentral

Nine Emperor Gods Festival Procession In Jinjang – Part 6

For a moment, I thought it was my friend Emily Lowe. The Ipoh journalist and Ipoh-centric blogger is also the webmaster of the Nine Empeor Gods’ Kew Ong Tai Tay Temple in Ipoh.

Jeez! What are the requirements for a webmaster these days? As it turned out, it wasn’t Emily for she is fearful of a pin prick.

Funny thing is that I was playing with her metal spike laid out on a table earlier. Surprised they didn’t do any form of sterilization except to pour liberal doses of cold water when the spikes, knives and spears are inserted into the cheek. Anybody knows why cold water is used, except maybe to numb the skin?

The original Ampang Temple is like a modern day Mega Church. Apart from donations and other forms of temple tax, everything from parking to hawker space is monetized.

I have been writing about this unusual mix of religion and commerce for years. Their mega success in becoming a mega cash cow inspired many similarly-themed temples in many other towns and areas.

Think of the original temple as the popular Line Clear and Nasi Vanggey nasi kandar restauants. They spawned many unofficial and unsanctioned outlets elsewhere, all hoping to cash in.

It is not an easy act to follow though. The Ampang temple plough back some of their revenue into charitable acts such as a public kidney dialysis centre, old folk homes and donations to schools.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 2500, f4, 1/80 sec.

Nine Emperor Gods Festival Procession In Jinjang – Part 2

The problem with educating kids is that no college or university graduate wants to make a career out of some horrific bondage practice that makes one become like a slab of meat hooked and hung in a cold room.

Mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with spears is now practised mainly in Thailand Phuket’s Chinese community celebration of the festival. The bizarre ritual attracts a large number of tourists.

It is no gentle hipster piercings such as those on lip, tongue, nose, nipple, navel and genitals. So what do the temple in Jinjang do to keep the practice and tradition alive?

They import a bunch of male and female expatriate mediums or trance specialists from Thailand. They are pierced in front of the public (including children), who strangely applaud each successful painful piercing with shouts of “Huat” (or prosper). Prosperity is a Hokkien thing.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1000, f4, 1/50 sec.