Monday, February 18, 2008

Crossing Chickens and the Chinese Codex

Today I saw a chicken cross the road.

'Aw shucks common enough' you'd say. Well perhaps in hillbilly country but here in the lil big city, this event isn't that common at all. Trust me, we'd sooner see a scrawny stick-thin supermodel with her accompanying entourage rather than see a hen crossing the road with chicks in tow. I've had cousins of mine - urbanites the lot of 'em - who haven't even seen a rubber tree in real life.

Possibly even imagining that a rubber tree actually bounces back when hit.

But I was talking about the mama hen I almost ran over early this morning.

No doubt if my grandmother had been in the car this morning, she'd have seen numbers instead of crossing guard poultry. You see my grandmother has a book. One that I've always found particularly cryptic, quite as mystifing and obscure as the Book of Shadows. Yet this particularly dusty tome is found in almost every household belonging to the Chinese diaspora.

Called the Tong Sing - or roughly described as the Chinese Almanac, it's been in publication since 2250 BC. And it covers almost everything under the sun. One of the reasons why it has remained perpetually on the bestseller lists - almost certainly as popular amongst Chinese readers as the Da Vinci Code.

And almost as perplexing.

With no cipher other than your own wit and imagination.

Edison and elephant!
Dancing elephants would be 3456?

Rare, unprecedented events that occur in real life such as travelling fowl and raining frogs are immediately tabulated and scored with numbers that appear in the book. But the pages don't only extend to everyday life since dream interpretation also comes to play. Seriously. Dreamt of your deceased grandfather coming back for an eerie night-time visit? That would be number 2178. Or maybe 7283.

And you can take that number to the bank - or at least drop by the nearest lottery counter first to make a bet.

You'd laugh at the notion that a simple ( and crazily cheap! ) annual publication could foretell destinies and events. You'd even say that only barmy octogenarian grannies ( and their nutty descendants ) would read such absurd cockamamie.

But I wouldn't - especially since my peculiarly charmed grandmother has always had an uncanny streak when it comes to lottery numbers. Gambling might be taboo in the family but lottery tickets slipped through a loophole somehow. Almost inexplicable the way she pulls the winning numbers out of her hat - numbers that have no seeming relevance in our lives! - but which she blithely attributes to the said book. From giant rats running across the wooden beams to unfortunate road accidents in front of the coffeeshop, she somehow manages to draw magical fortuitous digits.

So you can be sure that I called her up to tell her about this.

Who knows, I might get to split the reward for the tip.


__S.B__ said...

very true you dont see that in city
poor chicken

Jason said...

How smart for the chicken to cross the road.

matrianklw said...

Haha. My granny has that "Book of Numbers" too. In fact, she has a couple of 'em - different editions, according to her. Really really strange that they can connect numbers to almost everything and anything! Haha!

Anonymous said...

I've learned something new about Chinese culture.

nemesis-on-fire said...

LOL!! where was this? that is indeed a rarity.

so, Paul, did u win anything?

Happy Chinese New Year and Hallmark-and-florists-make-obscenely-big-bucks-day to you, btw :D and to your peculiarly-charmed-with-numbers octogenarian granny.

did u get to split the winnings, then? ;) can get ur current S.O. something with it, who knows?

chase said...

im excited to see that "book of shadows" thingy.. hehhe..
just as much as the other scandals of edison chen.. heheh

savante said...

I bet they all get run over and eaten, sb.

They were pretty fast, jason.

Isn't it amazing how they use the book, matt?!

A new thing everyday over here, king bitch :)

Will find out soon. Must call her and ask, nemesis.

The books all around the place, chase.


D-Man said...

Ok, I'm gonna get one. Do you think I can find one in rural Idaho?????