Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Mah Jong Obsession

 Has anyone seen any of Wong Kar Wai's films? There's this scene in In the Mood for Love, set in 1960's Hong Kong, where the characters play a raucous game of mah jong into the wee hours of the night, fueled only by Chinese liquor and a passion for the hypnotic clinking sounds of the tiles - and more realistically by winning a wad of money in this aesthetically pleasing gambling fest. As soon as Dan and I saw that movie, we were hooked on a game we'd never played.  It wasn't just the game, it was the lifestyle (sans the betting, naturally).

Our friends brought us back a beautiful mah jong set from Hong Kong and one Friday night in London, after a long hard week at work, we decided to teach ourselves. We set up 'the wall', bought some Chinese beer (can't remember actually if it was Chinese), and started reading the instructions. We rolled the dice to determine that Dan was the 'East Wind' and continued to read the instructions (in Chinese-English). There was something about a flower wall and seasons and after 15 minutes of extreme frustration, we decided that mah jong, like languages, is not something self-taught from a book on a Friday night. So we shelved it for a year, the mah jong lifestyle a distant dream.

Well, the dream has resurrected. As many of you know, we're living with Dan's parents for a few months. Dan's mum is a recent mah jong convert and a much better tutor than the broken English leaflet. So we are getting in-volved. Every night is a mah jong night.

I'm a huge fan of mini-obsessions such as mah jong. They help focus me and keep me from feeling overwhelmed by all the things I could be thinking about and make me simplify. Like, I don't have to feel the pressure to do something world-changing tonight, I'm just going to learn mah jong. Also I think the tiles are beautiful.

Mah Jong fact This game was going off in the early part of the century and the craze only ended with the close of the Roaring Twenties when Americans turned to another rage: mini-golf. (Unbelievable, right?)

Mah Jong fact II Abercrombie & Fitch was the first American brand to introduce the game.

Anyone else honing any good obsessions? 

Btw, the baby on the sidebar that I'm also obsessing about is the beautiful Avonlea Theodora Roddy, born on December 31. Congratulations Joey and Matt!


Jenny said...

bejeweled blitz through facebook...i have no idea how people get such high scores...but it's addicting!

and i get to meet avonlea in 3 days! i'll give her a kiss and a snuggle from you.

alisha said...

Ahh..I'm so jealous!!

amyrenee said...

I've never really like typical board games... my family, on the other hand, lives to build cities and capture countries in strange worlds.

Mah Jong seems different though...A pretty game where I can drink and get money. Sounds good.

Get good so you can teach me, too! But not so good that playing with you is no fun.

Prince said...

i've always been intrigued by the game...i like the tiles. i'll have to check out the film...asian cinema is amazing. my favorite mah jong film sequence is in the film "raise the red lantern"...intense and beautiful (the film, not just the game ;)

hope you're having a blast in nueva zelandia!

Nadine said...

Matt and I used to play Mah Jong with his friends back in 2001 and we loved it! But we haven't played since so we would need a refresher course, but we did love playing!

As for recent obsessions, I love playing scrabble with friends on Facebook.

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