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January 25, 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon!

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I am really not that concerned about these reptilian serpents or any of the other 12 animals that glide by every Chinese New Year. However, living here, one cannot help but join in the festivities.


For those who celebrate Lunar New Year, the time for family gatherings has arrived. The largest yearly migration occur involving millions of people. From all over the world, future dragonites return, usually to their parents’ house, for a few days of family reunion.


To my students, the holiday brings great excitement. Special food, travel and greeting cousins from last year adds to the merriment. However, the main occasion is the receipt of the Ang Pau.


The Chinese are much more sensible in gift giving than the Americans. Instead of waiting in long lines, shopping for that perfect gift and battling Black Friday crowds, they give their children cash. The money is folded into a red envelope called an Ang Pau, Chinese for red envelope, I suppose. The children wait eagerly for these packets on the first day of the New Year, dressed in new clothes, almost always red.


My students were very excited about the prospect of the coming holiday. At the end of each period I wished them a Happy New Year and I hoped their Ang Pau’s were very thick with folded $100 ringitt notes. They acknowledged this unusual statement, perhaps being a bit perplexed that this American would know anything about their culture.


During a school assembly, we had a dragon dance. A six-meter two headed cartoonish dragon arrived. Two men were under and supported each head while a third was the rest of the long body. The reptile had two saucer round eyes, eyebrows arched to give him a serious look. The mouth had a grin with friendly teeth. The entire body was gold in color, signifying wealth.


After dancing through the crowd, it laboriously climbed on stage, laid down and proceeded to “eat” a plate of fruit. Then, after digesting the meal for awhile, it presented the offering to the headmistress and the director of schools – all of this to deafening beat of a drum.


The water dragon occurs once every 60 years. According to lore, water brings growth which produces wood, but there will be a lack of creativity and intelligence this year, foreshadowing the upcoming presidential elections in the United States.


Wealth luck will be high. Investors should enter the stock market now to ride on the rising wave of the bull but must be out by October before the tide ebbs. This is probably better advice than you will get from a stock broker. You should also buy a turtle and keep it in the north corner of your house. The reptile will help you with your investments.


Other predictions include one that says you should have a child this year because it will be very intelligent; another indicates there is a lot of sexual energy in the air that will result in a marked increase of bedroom activity; and yet another says your chance of falling in love will be very high. Not necessarily in that order.


As for your health, there may be problems with your waist and your ear. The possibility of issues with your kidney and urinary track will be high. This doesn’t make much sense since this a water dragon and the liquids should flow freely and with gusto.


I hope all of you have a happy and prosperous New Year, and as a PETA member, please be sure to feed your turtle.


…Life is good. . .


Purchase a copy of my book “Borneo Tom” for $15 from daughter Mary McLaughlin, Box 514 Malta, Montana 59538. Proceeds benefit orangutan research here in Borneo.


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