Hidden Rules

“It is alarming that Chinese has many hidden rules that even I am not aware of. Until I was recently made aware that the paint color used on tombstones, if it is gold, represents dead relatives and red, signifies the living. Thus on the grave of my grandparents, upon my discovery, my beloved cousins, siblings and I, have been dead for more than half a century already . Cant get more incredible than this years Cheng Beng. Drown me please somebody !”

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Chneh Meh Kay

(Version in Hokkien)

Chneh Meh Kay

Tok Tiok Tharng

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(Version in English)

A blind chicken

Pecks a worm!

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About this saying:~

This phrase/saying is commonly used to describe how luck could strike undeserving people the same way a chicken , though blind, could peck worms.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These ditties retell their story and their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

Reunion table

Reunion is held on the first day of Chinese New Year. The servings on a reunion table according to Chinese tradition signifies abundance. Hence it is customary to have as wide an array of food available on this night. In contemporary society, fad and convenience has taken over tradition. Rarely does one still find whole chickens, suckling pigs, sharks fin, abalones, sea cucumbers, and all kinds of mushrooms and fishes being served except on important occasions as appeasing deities on the altar tables.

Ang Pow Giving

On the first day of Chinese New Year as Confucianist practice dictates, the entire household of an extended family would tidy themselves up, all nicely coiffured before presenting themselves to the head of the household, (generally the matriarch) to receive special blessings and ang pows (red colored packets containing money symbolizing good luck, prosperity, great health and joy). As receiving ang pows is hierarchical, so it is with the givers, each taking turns distributing whilst juniors kow tow and wish ‘Keong Hee Huat Chye’ as a mark of respect to the givers. In our family we went a step further by serving tea to the elders. It is also customary that once a child got married, they are obligated to give ang pows to their parents. The unmarried are exempted from ang pow giving because to the Chinese, they are still rated a child. Thus, any family members can receive ang pows for as long as they remained single. In our Hokkien tradition, only the womenfolk gives away ang pows. Reason is that the menfolk are supposedly the breadwinners of the family whilst the womenfolk are in charge of household affairs.

This is my extended family.

1st pic- my grandma Gek Kee, receiving blessings from my great grandma, matriarch Saw Kit, at Boon Siew Mansion. Generally as a senior in the family herself, my grandma is no longer entitled to ang pows but I guess that also depends on the generosity of individuals and the wealth of each family.. Matriarch Saw Kit’s life sized bronze statue still graces the Home of the Infirmary, Penang.

2nd pic- Aunt Guat Eng, Aunt Gim Ean (deceased), Aunt Guat Hong, Aunt Loh Ean, Uncle Kah Poh (deceased), unidentified Aunt and my mom (deceased). Aunt Guat Hong and 2nd Tniau Seng Leong kow towed.

3rd pic- Tiny tots group pic with matriarch. Kah Heng (deceased), Kah Bee, and Kah Kheng (deceased).

An extended family has added advantages except for privacy and at least three generations of one household lives and stays together. That was the in -thing of that period for well to do family’s with big houses.

Images copyrighted. Circa 50s.

Exceeded Excrete Life

“I’m at an age where I’m supposedly marked ‘safe’. There’re no urges I cannot explain, I don’t ogle at freshly baked muffs, and I walked around gleefully, pretending to look young but inimitably, all my good ol’ features kept wasting away and cranking at the joints. In a few years time, I will be entitled to benefits accorded my age. Civil society had it all thought out already- designated foot paths, regular health checks, cinema and travel concessions, stuffs which are ironically more useful to me when I was younger. All except for that which I grimace and longed to have, but quite incapable of performing.
Age does strange things to one’s eyesight really. Wrinkles vanished completely from everyone you gaze at and older women suddenly looks sweet and desirable. At times, you see multiples of them instead of one.
Alas! and after I have exceeded excrete life and my opinions no longer reverberates the eardrums of my dear shadow cabinet congregating at the regular coffee shops, the only muscle flex I’d be left with would be the drool flowing down the corner of my mouth each time a temptress straddles by. It’s so surreal really.
And what do you know? My whole person is already stammering but my beloved bloke snugging in between my crotch still thinks he is the next superhero!
Come to think of it, getting older could be fun. When you’re asked to do something that you’re lazy about? and you point to your neck or wherever while cringing your face..
Anyway, the rest of my time I guess would be spent monologuing and bumping onto furniture corners.. Then wait for the day when they tagged me with a champagne glass’ and an ‘umbrella’ symbol followed by ‘This Side Up’. “

Monopoly

“Market forces and demand varies the world over. Thus, to market a fair that claims to cut across the continents is amusing, if not to continuously keep the pecan pie to yourself by killing two birds with one stone. 1) by depleting the coffers of smaller galleries by inducing them to pay exorbitant fair charges which stumps their cash flow and stunt their growth; and 2) using those gains to boost and sustain the star status of bigger galleries and their artists thus deflating the prospect of smaller galleries, all in the name of western monopoly.”

The ‘I’ Syndrome

“Everyone does what is good for themselves. No one ever questions if what they do good for themselves is good for the country. Thus, the country is always left behind. That is the missing link for a good closure. That is the reason why familiar leaders so called the old guards who has been around in every fraternity MUST GO! They lack foresight and vision. They are self centered. They can’t bring change. Because they themselves won’t change for the good of the country. They can’t forsake that ‘I’ syndrome for ‘US’. They are divisive. They move their pawns to benefit themselves. And still think they are clever. Yes they are clever. In manipulating the naive. Sham these people without conscience. They are the weeds in our garden! When we uproot them, we must also uproot what they have put in place beit the system, the standard operating procedures and their policies.

I Rather They Suffer Than We Suffer

“If one keeps on neglecting creativity but works in a context of acceptability as according to that school of thought which nurture them, then we unconsciously stunt our inner Easternmost expressions by paying homage to Western literal ideas, subconsciously elevating them to iconic towkay status to make them relevant and in turn, reduces our own chance of making our way to the top.
Schools of music till today still stresses on Brahm and Bach. Schools of writing still pays homage to Shakespeare and Wilde, not Tagore or Han Suyin. Schools of visual art history conveniently branded us as offshoots of abstract expressionism. We have been suppressed if not, being denied our own identity. And until we assert a language of our own, we can’t flourish as unique individuals. Our arts and literal history should thus be rewritten and pushed further back to the time where our ancestors began it all. Maybe back to the aborigines. They are unique individuals that did not arise feeding from Western classicals as we have always been, and that’s the reason we are conveniently placed into neat identifiable parcels ready for the slaughterhouse or be labeled as ‘aliens’.
Western ideas propound that without education one will fail. I beg to differ. My very own forefather, the uneducated rich, has proven them wrong. The Westerners also has an uncanny habit to device all sorts of courses and tailored them to suit their own ideals while we in turn, enrolled ourselves into their classes to earn a degree studying about our own culture, tradition and way of life. Seriously??? The profoundness of a language is also not important as our forefathers again has proven. Living with different ethnicities, we never have trouble understanding each other and getting our messages across despite the littlest we knew about someone else’s language.
If I may stress further, Eastern writings, performances, and visual expressionism should not be assessed by comparing them to Western standards and principles or being lumped into pattern moulds set for us, otherwise we’d forever be regarded as an off track or an off shoot of the Western system. Orientalism too, has no place in today’s contemporary society. To get rid of being stereotyped, we should all rise to the occasion and be ourselves. We should write as how we write according to how our natural senses evoke us, and be as distinct as how our ancestors are, swaying to their own wayang, and painting with the scurried soul of an Easterner. Our works should overwhelm them with just that tinge of ourselves and we should all live as how we are, being accorded a rightful place on the map of the world. What I just lamented may sound discomforting to the Westerners but I rather they suffer than we suffer, the earful .”

Stop Policing Others

Malaysians are too rich. It’s only people who does not need to worry about their pocket could they find time to play God or be God’s gatekeeper. Complaining about the dirt in other people’s backyard does not absolve you from your own. Look inward. There you will find a lot of filth staining your own morality. Clean them up since you are too free. Stop policing others….