The people of the Far East take their children’s studies seriously. For example, I learnt from a TV documentary that in Korea, during high school or college examination days, government and commercial offices reschedule and stagger their business hours so that morning traffic would be decently light as to not delay the aspiring scholars when they travel in their cars or taxis to the examination halls.
China has now taken the precaution one step further, by considering the feng shui aspects of the very important examination days.
This week, taxi companies in Shanghai have recalled all taxis with the number ‘4’ on their licence plates so that the budding scholars won’t be hexed with the ‘shi’ (or in Cantonese ‘sei’) word. The word also sounds like ‘death’ in Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien and Japanese, and ‘loser’ in the Shanghai language.
Nothing must be left to chance to affect the examinees’ prospects.
The number ‘4’ is so much avoided that the Japanese would use the special word for it ‘yon’ rather than the Chinese originated pronunciation of ‘shi’. Chinese avoid mentioning the word like the plague especially on auspicious days like Chinese New Year, birthday and wedding celebrations, etc.