Experience has shown, that numbers still matter in China even today. As I have learned over the years, Chinese people traditionally associate fortune or bad luck with numbers. Some even place too much weight on the perfect numbers in their daily life. They actually really believe that the right lucky numbers can bring them luck. The number two for example suggests harmony, while number four is associated with bad luck as the pronunciation is similar as the syllable for ‘death’. But what do Chinese numbers have to do with me?
One time in Hong Kong, my Panda’s aunt and his cousin took us out for ‘Yum Cha’. While ‘Yum Cha’ is actually translated with ‘drinking tea’, its meaning is different in Hong Kong. If you are invited for ‘Yum Cha’, it means that you will be taken to a restaurant to eat an enormous amount of fried or steamed dim sum, other yummy traditional, and drink large quantities of Chinese tea.
After a few appetizer dim sum, Panda’s cousin decided to order six larger main dishes. He already decided on various different settings, like a rice dish, noodles, vegetables, meat, fish… but I just wanted to eat the spicy fried pork rips again which I had a few days before at the very same restaurant. I knew six dishes were a lot already for only 4 people, but we all would manage to also eat the seventh somehow. As cousin did not want to change his perfectly aligned decision (it really was!), he ordered the ones he chose, and I ordered my awesomely delicious spicy pork rips as a seventh dish. And then, the waitress kept staring at me and was waiting for me to say something. I stared back at her and was utterly confused. Then she asked me something in Cantonese.
All confused, I looked at my Panda.
Panda: “She asked if you didn’t want to order an eight dish?”
Betty, still clueless: “…Why?”
He turned to her and asked her why we should order another one.
Panda: “Because if there are eight dishes, it means it’ll bring us good luck.”
Betty, totally dumbfounded: “Please tell her I am not superstitious, and we all probably can’t finish an eight dish anyway.”
And while he was still in the middle of translating, the waitress’, aunt’s and cousin’s faces turned white. Without another comment, the cousin took the menu and ordered any random dish to round off the ‘eight’, to not court disaster, and unlash the great misfortune I almost brought over the family by not ordering THE eight dish.
Luckily, cousin spared us, but above all me, from a life of bad luck, but still ruined our stomachs with the eight dish. Of course we had to finish them all, for our Chinese pride (yes, me too!). At least I suffered from a bad stomach ache afterwards, because I ate more than I could handle. Maybe next time I should just stop to eat when I have enough. Which means after I finish my life-changing pork rips of course.
Have you ever encountered a lack of understanding because you did not take the right numbers into consideration?