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风水真的管用 / Feng Shui is Alive and Well  

2010-01-17 20:59:22|  分类: 阅读 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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风水真的管用

在美国学中文的时候,我了解过一点有关风水的知识,知道它在中国文化中有着悠久的传统。风水又称土占,是一种根植于自然界和地理学、包罗了各种古老理论的学说。风水师借助风水学说,向普通百姓提供各种指点,从大吉或大凶的(住宅和办公室)位置,到“感应”最佳的室内设计,再到园林建筑,等等。通常,风水还与占数学的原理结合起来使用。

风水本身的特性使它与算命一样,招来了不少骗子和不懂装懂的人。但也有很多懂行和受人尊重的风水师,人们纷纷寻求他们的建议及指导。

和许多我在课堂上学到的中国传统文化知识一样,初到香港之时,我不知道在香港或大陆的中国文化中,风水是否仍占有一席之地。

没过多久,我就得出了答案。在20世纪70年代中期,尽管风水在中国大陆受到官方排斥,被认为是封建迷信残余,但在香港却大行其道,直到现在也是如此。而且自那时起,风水也开始在整个中国境内卷土重来,过去10年间尤其如此。

在第一次接触风水的过程中,我学到了一个教训:要尊重他人的信仰,无论你自己相信与否。

在上一篇博客中我曾提到过,自从半山区公寓楼的马桶坏了之后,我就搬了出来。为了找到一处租金低廉、又能接触到中国文化的住处,我去了外岛长洲,从香港中环到那里,乘渡轮大约需要一个小时的时间。

我对长洲了解甚少,但我所听到的与之有关的介绍相当吸引人:南中国海上风景如画的小岛,古老的渔村,没有一辆机动车,到市区只需一个小时,房租却只有港岛的零头儿,外国居民寥寥无几,等等。

那时,我一句粤语都不会讲,也估计自己很难碰见会说普通话的人。为防不时之需,我把一连串说明和问题用中文写在了一张3吋宽、5吋长的索引卡片上,诸如:

“我想租一套一居室的房子。”

“房租多少钱?”

在九月初某个周六的炎热上午,我乘渡轮前往长洲。一下船,就闻到岸边藤架上晒着的虾酱正散发出刺鼻气味。港口内挤满了渔船,村舍和店铺大都是两三层高的房子,码头熙熙攘攘,色彩缤纷。

我顿时对这个小岛产生了一股亲切感。现在,当务之急是要知道从哪儿开始寻找房子。我顺着码头区望去,发现了一块牌子,上面写着“长洲商会”。我心想,从这里开始找房子再好不过了。

我走上狭窄摇晃的木楼梯,来到商会办公室。在那儿,我看到一群样子像古代人的中国男子正在围着两张方桌玩麻将。大部分人都穿着一种宽大的白色T恤衫,似乎是这些老人的工作服。之所以说他们是老人,是因为他们都留着白色山羊胡子,脸上长着带毛的痣。

我站在楼梯顶端的房门口,感觉自己可能误解了这家商会的职能和业务范围。我就像一座肉眼不可见的外星人雕像,先在那里站了一会儿,然后,我挥了挥索引卡片,终于引起了一个老头的注意。他凑过身来,毫无表情地看了看我的卡片。

他向其他牌友宣布了我的打算,结果招来一段由讪笑、沉吟和耸肩组成14和弦。这通合奏的寓意十分明显,那就是“到哪儿找都别到这里。”我退了出去。

最后,我寻到码头区的一座古建筑,饶有兴趣地想进去探查一番。因为口渴,我在古建一层的商店停下来买冷饮,恰好听到老板在跟别人(后来知道是他的亲戚)讲普通话。

我提高嗓门,打听租房的事儿,凑巧的是,这栋建筑的顶层恰好空着。经过一番讨价还价,我们以每月租金550港币成交(按当时实行的汇率折算,大约相当于110美金)。房间的面积有500平方英尺,上面还有同样大小的一个露台,两边都可以看到海景,楼下两层就是商店,离渡轮码头只有5分钟的路程。实在太好了!

Feng Shui is Alive and Well

While studying Chinese in the U.S., I learned a bit about feng shui, and its long tradition in Chinese culture. Rooted in nature and geography, feng shui, or geomancy, is a traditional collection of theories which experts interpret when offering advice to ordinary folk on everything from which locations offer maximum potential for good or bad luck (for homes as well as offices), to interior design which maximizes "good vibes", landscape architecture, etc. It is often combined with elements of numerology.

The nature of the subject matter, like fortune-telling, invites charlatans and scam-artists, but there are also many serious and respected feng shui masters whose advice and guidance are much sought after.

Like so many things about traditional Chinese culture which I studied in the classroom, I had no idea when I first arrived in Hong Kong whether or not feng shui was still an integral part of Chinese culture in Hong Kong or the Chinese mainland.

It didn't take long to find out. In the mid-70s, although feng shui was officially frowned about as a superstitious holdover from feudal society in mainland China, it was (and is) in full swing in Hong Kong. It has made quite a comeback in China since that time as well, especially in the past ten years.

In my first personal encounter with feng shui I learned a lesson about respecting other peoples' beliefs whether you share them or not.

As mentioned in my last post, after my loo went potty in the mid-levels, I moved out. Seeking a combination of a low-rent district with exposure to Chinese culture, I went out to visit the outlying island of Cheung Chau, about one hour's ferry ride from Hong Kong's Central district.

I knew little about the place, but what I'd heard sounded charming: small picturesque island nestled in the South China Sea, traditional fishing village, no motorized vehicles, only an hour from downtown, rents only a fraction of Hong Kong Island, only a handful of foreign residents, etc.

I didn't speak a word of Cantonese then, and expected to find few if any speakers of Mandarin, so I wrote down a series of statements and questions in Chinese characters on 3" x 5" index cards, just in case:

"I am looking for a one-bedroom apartment to rent."

"How much is the rent?"

As I got off the ferry boat on Cheung Chau that Saturday morning in the early September heat, I was greeted by the wafting, pungent aroma of shrimp paste drying on rattan frames along the waterfront. The harbor was full of fishing junks, and village houses and shopfronts were mostly two or three-story affairs. The waterfront was a bustling and colorful place.

I felt an instant affinity for the island. Now the practical question was where to begin the search for housing. I gazed along the waterfront and saw a sign for the "Cheung Chau Chamber of Commerce." What better place to start my search, I thought.

I walked up a narrow, rickety set of wooden stairs to the Chamber office and came upon two square tables of ancient-looking Chinese gentlemen in the midst of playing mahjong. Most were wearing baggy white T-shirts, which seemed to be the official uniform. of old men. Seniority was indicated by whispy white beards or hairy facial moles.

I stood there at the edge of the room, at the top of the stairs, realizing I may have misjudged the mission and scope of the Chamber. After standing there like an invisible alien statue for awhile, I brandished my index card and finally caught the attention of one of the old fellows, who leaned over and looked nonchalantly at my card.

He announced my intentions to the rest of the players, which elicited a rousing 14-part harmony of chuckles, grunts and shrugs. The nuance of the chorus was clear: "Anywhere but here!". Off I went.

Eventually my search lead me to a very old temple on the waterfront, which I investigated with interest. Thirsty, I stopped in a ground floor shop to get a cold drink and happened to overhear the shopkeeper speaking to someone (who turned out to be a relative) in Mandarin.

I piped up and inquired about finding a flat to rent, and serendipitously, the top floor flat of the building was available. After some discussion, we settled on HK$550 per month in rent (roughly US$110 at the prevailing exchange rate), for a 500-square foot room and the full rooftop above it, with a seaview on both sides, two flights up from the shop, five minutes from the ferry pier. Eureka!

By Si Bu Xiang

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