Sunday 21 February 2010

I 'lo hei' every year, so why am I still prosper-less?

So here I am, trying to reach the yusheng with my disposable chopsticks between the bodies of my colleagues during the office "lo hei".

Why am I doing this?

I suppose it's because this tradition of tossing the yusheng during Chinese New Year is believed to bring prosperity in the coming year.

The problem is I did the same thing a year ago and in the ensuing 12 months, I didn't prosper that much, if at all.

For one thing, I'm "lo hei"-ing with more or less the same bunch of losers as last year. I guess the yusheng didn't work for them just like it didn't work for me. It's safe to assume that if they had prospered, they wouldn't be stuck here with me as their colleague either.

Remember Color Me Badd? No, you don't and I'll tell you why.

Color Me Badd was a US boyband that had string of big hits, such as I Wanna Sex You Up, I Adore Mi Amor and All 4 Love, in the early '90s.

In February 1994, the four-member group came to Singapore to promote its second album and was scheduled to appear on a local TV variety show on Channel 5 called Live On 5, which I happened to be working on at the time.

Since it was around Chinese New Year, someone - not me - had the bright idea of having the four guys "lo hei" on the show.

So during the live telecast, after Color Me Badd performed its final number in the packed TV studio, a huge plate of yusheng was brought out by a Chinese chef from the sponsoring hotel.

The guys were each giving a pair of of extra-long chopsticks as the strange, exotic custom of tossing the yusheng was quickly explained to them.

They were told that the higher they could toss the yusheng with their chopsticks, the better.

Unfortunately, no one told them that they should also try to keep the yusheng on the plate.

So once the lo hei began, shredded vegetable and other carefully prepared ingredients flew all over the place. The crowd went nuts.

Even the chef laughed. These crazy Westerners, what to do?

The credits rolled as everyone picked bits of food out of their hair and clothes.

It was great TV, but as I expected, a few days later, the show received a letter from an offended viewer who berated us for making fun of a revered Chinese tradition. We were lucky not to be called up by ISD.

I made a mental note that the next time we "lo hei" with American boybands, I must remember to tell them to try and keep the yusheng on the plate.

I needn't have worried. I left Live On 5 a few months later and the show was cancelled before the year was out.

As for Color Me Badd, well, the group's fortune faded after that and you could colour them broken up by 2000.

Wait. So maybe I'm not getting prosperous from my yearly lo hei because I've been doing it all wrong.

Which means I probably won't win the Toto $10 million Hongbao Draw this year.

Dare I even go near the new casino?

Colour me prosper-less.

See you losers again next year.

- Published in The New Paper, 21 February 2010