Archive for January, 2011

China’s Li Na versus Kim Clijsters in the Australian Open

January 29, 2011

So tonight in the Australian Open, China’s Li Na does battle against Kim Clijsters for what could be China’s first grand slam victory. Li Na has been a surprise to many people, seeming to come from nowhere. Of course that’s largely because she’s Chinese and not one of these glam blonde bimbos who get buried in sponsorship deals and then fail to achieve.

Li has actually been around for quite some time, is ranked number 9 and is proving that she can be a real force to be reckoned with. In her previous game versus world number one, Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, Li came back from one set down and match point, to claim the win.

She has endeared herself to the Australian media with her frank comments about her husband’s snoring, made even more charming by her broken English.

While I like both players, I am really hoping Li Na does win. She seems like a genuinely nice person, and it cracks me up every time I see her husband’s face when she pokes fun at him. If she does in fact win, expect the Chinese to go nuts about it, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if a whole array of tennis work camps popped up all over the country, trying their hardest to ‘cultivate’ more Chinese champions.

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Sounds like luck.

January 25, 2011

As it gets closer to Chinese New Year, the local Asian supermarkets of Box Hill start to display a vast array of gimmicky golden goods available for purchase. These will appear on special benches set out front of the stores, signifying that a holiday event is coming.

From boxes of gaudily displayed mooncakes, to epic golden sailing ships, they each have their own individual meanings – none of them making any sense to the average westerner!

So lately one re-occurring item has grabbed my curiosity; the golden pineapple. These spikey tropical delights are often sitting on a bed of what looks to be gold ingots and had me thinking, what the hell is the significance of the pineapple? And who would buy it? Well of course there is a specific meaning behind it…and a very Chinesey one at that:

The Chinese sound of Pineapple is similar to “luck coming your way” and hence it has become an important symbol of good wealth, fortune and prosperity. The Pineapple can always be seen used in important Chinese festivities such as the Lunar new year or during birthdays of deities. This golden pineapple is accompanied by another symbol of good fortune – gold ingots.

Display the Golden Pineapple with Gold Ingots in your living room, bedroom, business premises, shops, offices, preferably in the Southeast corner (wealth corner) to enhance your wealth and money luck.

So there you have it-  because the Chinese word for Pineapple sounds like “luck coming your way”, it’s in turn lucky. I guess it’s lucky the word for ass doesn’t sound like wealth, or we’d be seeing a hell of lot more golden anuses than usual!

Perplexed by a name!

January 24, 2011

If there’s one thing you’ll learn early on when studying Mandarin, the Chinese ‘alphabet’ is pronounced differently to our own. You will become intimately acquainted with pinyin; a system developed to help Romanize the Chinese characters into something readable for us English speaking westerners.

Once you have pinyin under your belt, you can strut around with a certain arrogance, as you listen to sports commentators and news readers continually mis-pronounce Chinese words. In particular, anything that begins with letters such as zh or x are always cause for amusement.

It must then be a pleasure to commentate a tennis game with a player whose name as simple as Na Li, such as the current Chinese champion who is playing in the Australian Open. Though even Na Li – which as simple as it sounds, is still not correct Chinese – family before first name, aka Li Na, not Na Li.

Now I am very familiar with Pinyin, having once upon a time suddenly turned a corner and remembered most of the pronunciations. Which brings me to Li Cunxin, author of Mao’s Last Dancer – a book which at least five people will recommend to you every year, and a book I have to jump on the bandwagon and recommend myself. A book whose movie also did it absolutely no justice I have to add..but that’s another story.

This guy’s name simply does not make sense to me. Li – easy, that simply sounds like Lee. But Cunxin….this has me stumped. The proper pronunciation is supposedly, “Schwin Sing.” The Sing makes sense for Xin. Xin can either be Shin, or Sin, depending on which part of China you come from and your accent. Sing is obviously just another accent (it’s not a confusing language at all is it?)

But Schwin?! That I absolutely cannot understand. Cun to me should be ts-un. C in Chinese is usually the ‘ts’ sound, like the ts at the end of ‘cats’. So ‘ts-un’ as a sound would make sense. But where Schwin comes from….if anyone knows how that works, I would love to hear from you.

Here we go again!

January 6, 2011

If there’s one thing that’s been easy for me lately, it’s neglecting my poor blog. One moment I’m all over it and then the next; in what feels like the blink of an eye, months have passed without an update. Not good!

2010, like so many years before it, came and went in the blink of an eye. 2010 for me was very much the year of the wedding. Having popped the question to my lovely girl in October of 2009, we finally tied the knot in November 2010. Between those points, practically every part of our day to day life felt like it was consumed by the wedding. Whether the physical organisations – to which I admit I played a somewhat minor part 😉 – to the anticipation.  Everything was wedding wedding wedding.

And when we weren’t thinking about wedding, all of our family and friends were. It was the main topic of conversation at birthdays and get-togethers until the point we just couldn’t wait to be done with it.

After what felt like forever, the wedding day did finally arrive, and in true Melbourne fashion it rained heavily all day. Thankfully that affected little, and if anything, only added an extra level of fun to the photos. The photographers always say that the clouded grey lighting only adds to the emotion, but whether that’s true or just a way to sympathise is unknown.

As we approached the wedding day, I was of the mind of simply wanting it to be done with, but on the day itself, I would have happily had it last twice as long as it did. We had a simply amazing day which I enjoyed so much more than I possibly could have guessed. Being surrounded by friends and family in a celebration of ourselves was an absolutely wonderful feeling, and one that will stay with me always.

On the night of the wedding we jetted off to Japan for our honeymoon in what may in hindsight have been not the best of ideas. Japan itself was amazing, but leaving on the night of the wedding? Not so good… We were absolutely dead tired and our flight left at around midnight. Trying to get to sleep on a plane for two people who can’t sleep on planes, was the equivalent of Chinese water torture. While we got there in the end, it was definitely not the most ideal start to our honeymoon!

And Japan…what a great country. I had to keep reminding myself that I was not in China. While there were definitely similarities between the two countries, they were also vastly different. I think simply being overseas again in an Asian dominant environment rekindled memories and feelings which I had not really experienced since. While I live in an Asian dominated town, and on a daily basis still feel in the minority being white, it’s a different feeling again doing it in another country.

In the next few weeks I hope to really write some of the things I experienced in Japan, particularly in regards to how for me it related back to China. I found the differences between Chinese and Japanese culture as interesting as the countries as themselves. And of course, I’ll put up some photos. Until then, sayonara, or is it simply zaijian – who can say anymore.


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