It's a sound you hear often enough this time of year in almost every Chinese household in the world. Well, all except mine.
You see, my late grandfather for reasons unbeknownst always had a curious distaste for gambling. Actually distaste would be putting it mildly - which is why we never had any cards, dice or games in the household. Certainly no mahjong tiles! Far from the typical Chinaman, even the very mention of gambling would have him frowning his displeasure. You can imagine how he tsked each time the 4D fella came calling to receive bets. Though we never dared ask, we all have our own theories of course - the prevailing one being that he must have been a sore loser during a prolonged game on the junk from China.
Fittingly ( and ironically ) enough, the rest of my generation only started learning this time-honoured game at his funeral. A kindly uncle from another branch of the family offered lessons to keep the younger folk from turning rambunctious during the dull hours of mourning. Yet we remain true to his creed and few of us gamble.
Sometimes you do lose your shirt after all!
I can confess that gambling has never really been a sin of mine. Even a thousand dollar stake fails to raise my heartbeat. Slot machines. Poker games. Mahjong. Get bored far too easily after a while. Especially when the stakes aren't high enough.
And seriously I don't enjoy playing for cash. Play me for something far more deliciously sinful such as blackmail information. Or a hot guy's pants ( nothing like a litte strip poker ). Maybe I could get Pretty Phillip to play the night away.
But what's the point?
Even now in my family we only bet a tiny pittance, usually a few cents at the most. Measly amount for some of the gambling gods out there. Usually we play for our family's version of Chinese Water Torture. Yeah, we drink green tea till we burst - and in a coffeeshop, you can be assured of an near-endless supply of drinks.
Bet grandpa would be pleased :)