First day. At the cellular phone store.
I am there with a local translator, choosing a cellular phone and phone number. When I am presented with a notebook with hundreds of phone numbers to choose from, I cannot really understand why some phone numbers are less expensive than others. “Because they contain a “4”, an unlucky number for Chinese people”, I am told.
I already knew that luck played a big role in Chinese culture. A business will have its grand opening on a particular date, for good luck; the location of a future office will be chosen with the help of a fortune-teller. What I did not know, is how entrenched it could be in day-to-day life… even affecting how much you pay for a phone number! A whole new world to be discovered by us, Westerners!
I should add that the reason why the number “4” is bad luck in China is that the word “4” in mandarin sounds very much like the word for “death”. And for a similar reason, numbers with an “8” are more expensive, because the word “8” in mandarin sounds like the word for “prosperity”.
Hmmm, now we understand!