[sytycb 01] HUAT AH!
July 12, 2011 § 9 Comments
Every Chinese New Year, my family heads back to my dad’s old kampung. After a day’s lo hei and steamboat stickiness, the cool of the night brings with it the one thing that remains constant year after year – the clacking of mahjong tiles against one another, my mother and aunties laughing in between the “Pong!”, and “Hu!”
My dad’s never been keen on my sister or I learning mahjong, so it was quite priceless to see his face when I told him I was going for a government-sponsored mahjong class (courtesy of OurCommunity.sg ). Of course, that mirth lasted only as long as my first game.
Turns out, I have a long way to go before I become Wong Fei Hong of mahjong. I seriously had a headache 1/2 hour into the practice session. Tip of the week: Don’t geh-kiang. Go for the beginner classes or learn the basics from your friend. Don’t dive straight into practice sessions.
By the time my mind absorbed the variations and combinations of qing yi se, hun yi se, peng peng hu, ji hu, ping hu, the different “winds” that you had to be, the number of dice throws to determine the dealer, the anti-clockwise counting of people, the clockwise counting of tiles, the different dai that determined how much you’ve won when you gamed (there are 2 different tiers of payment, depending on if you were the fool that gave away the winning tile), which flower tiles gave you a level up, which animal tiles paired with which…………….let’s just say, at the end of 3 hours of non-stop play, you could tell me the sun rose from the west and I would nod along most enthusiastically.
Shared the beginner’s table with 3 other ladies – Joyce (in denim), Ann (in yellow) & Jayne (another blogger in this OurCommunity challenge), who were terribly nice. And patient, especially when I’d accidentally say “Gao Sok (9 bamboo)” when it was actually “Gao Tong (9 circle)”.
As I was playing, I was wonderingwhy the “houses” / “suits” were Bamboo, Circle & Wan (or Character).Found out they’re called “money suits” as they stem from the ancient currency that was used. More info at where else but wikipedia.
There are also a hell lot of playing styles. There’s the Singapore style of course, then Malaysian and Hongkong, but there’s also the international style, and various Japanese styles – one of which is Richi, a style that our trainer Edwin Phua likes as it’s a more defensive way of playing and has a different scoring system. I’d trust him. The guy’s been playing for over 20 years. On a random side note, he just graduated in biology research or something to that effect. Intriguing. He also doesn’t usually play for money; he plays for the challenge of the strategy.
Ahhh, the day I can say that too – that I’m playing for the love of the game, because I’m a master of it and enjoy it in its purest form. One day, ten thousand dragon years later, I’m sure I’ll get there. Until then, I’ll be contented with having been introduced to this game that’s tied centuries back into our history, and thus can say (in the words of a friend) that I’m “finally a proper Chinese girl”.
Jayne, who was with me in the mahjong class, has the dates of all the upcoming classes. While I unfortunately didn’t manage to snap any photos of her or myself, she has one where I look majorly spaced out. That is pictorial evidence of how hard my head was hurting, even though I swear I was having fun learning.
Ah. I guess I should say each comment here earns me one point closer to an iPad2, so thanks if you do decide to comment!