Friday, November 2, 2007
The Mahjong Junkie
Click clack. Click clack. Pong! Chong! That's music to any Mahjong Junkie's ears. Every Lunar New Year 90% of the Chinese population on Earth turn into Mahjong Junkies - at least for a couple of weeks. The rest of the year the number drops to 50% or thereabouts.
Some play bridge, some play poker, some prefer gin rummy, Monopoly and Scrabble. the Chinese have their mahjong; and since there are so many Chinese everywhere, the game has become internationally known. Still, you have to be Chinese to fully enjoy a week-long marathon session - complete with brandy, melon seeds, Chinese tea, Bensons, Dunhills, and charsiew pau (barbecued pork dumplings). Not to mention the loud, high-pitched voices raised in typical mahjong patter (you see, the Chinese believe that Noise equals Festivity). For a very large segment of Chinese, mahjong constitutes the only form of relaxation they allow themselves - apart from listening to soap serials on Rediffusion's wired broadcast service and counting money. But in recent years a new breed of Chinese existentialist has surfaced in snooker parlours throughout the country. Perhaps they find mahjong too jolly and gregarious for their taste. Tock! Click-clack-clock-click... chock! Now that's music to a Snooker Junkie's ears.