Tuesday, July 12, 2011


This summer, we are living on the 10th floor. At least I think it's the 10th floor. We are certainly high up and we can see far out, as long as the Beijing smog stays away. What makes our location questionable, though, is the situation with our elevator buttons. You see, in most buildings in China, there is no 4th floor.

The word for four in Mandarin is "si" with a falling tone. The word "si," though, depending on the tone, in this case, falling then rising, can also mean "death." So as with many curiosities in China, associations are made with different words and their sounds v. their meanings.

Take the number 8, for example. In Mandarin, the word for 8 is "ba." Apparently, this sounds a lot like "fa" which means luck or good fortune. As a result, the number 8 is considered very lucky (remember the Beijing Olympic games began precisely on 8-8-8 at 8pm?) and so, as a result, phone numbers with the number 8 are sold at a premium. (People living in China use sim cards in their cell phones and can purchase numbers that appeal to them.)

So as for our building, there is floor 1, 3, 3A, 5......10, 11, 12, 13, 15... (No, I can't explain the lack of #2 at this point but will investigate this further.)

On the aside, I guess that Steve and I are in big trouble this year since we turned 44 a couple of weeks ago. "Double death?"

Oh, no...it's no trouble at all since we are actually 45 by Chinese counting. When a baby is born, he or she is 1. Phew?!



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