THIS WEEK'S FEATURE ARTICLES
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Xin Nian Kuai Le
Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister and speaker of Mandarin, would know what this headline means. It’s “Happy New Year”, and as we’re right in the middle of the lengthy Lunar New Year celebrations, our Chinese-Australian friends will hear it often. “Kung Hei Fat Choy” is another such greeting, a general wish for happiness and good fortune – something we all wish as we see out an old year and usher in a new with all its exciting possibilities. It’s the Year of the Pig, the last creature in the 12-year Chinese zodiac. That’s because the Pig came last in legendary Emperor Huangdi’s race to determine which animals would be represented in the Chinese zodiac. It didn’t occur to the supposedly intelligent Pig to do what the cunning Rat did. He hitched a ride on the back of the Ox, jumped off and crossed the finish line first. Next year is the Year of the Yang Metal Rat (Geng Zi) and it’s eagerly awaited by the Chinese. But in the meantime, we have the Pig.
Looks can be deceptive
According to www.travelchinaguide.com, “The Pig is not thought to be a smart animal in China. It likes sleeping and eating and becomes fat. Thus it usually features laziness and clumsiness. On the positive side, it behaves itself, has no plan to harm others, and can bring affluence to people.” Conversely, other websites cite people born in the Year of the Pig to be “fastidious, beautifully mannered – and have impeccable taste. They are intelligent, studious and thirst after knowledge. Family and friends are dear to them and ‘Pigs’ will not let them down or hurt their feelings”. But Yin and Yang have an influence, as does the hour of birth and element – water, metal, wood, fire or earth – into which a child is born. 2019 is an Earth year, which means babies born this year should be good at socialising and maintaining personal relationships. Some famous people born in a Year of the Pig are Henry VIII, Albert Schweitzer, Alfred Hitchcock, Hillary Clinton, Julie Andrews and Ronald Reagan. You can judge for yourself if they can claim any of those characteristics. The Pig’s lucky numbers will be 2, 5 and 8; colours are yellow, grey, brown and gold. Pigs should make every effort to avoid the numbers 1,3 and 9, and the colours red, blue and green.
Getting the Feng Shui right
Britain’s Feng Shui Store (www.fengshuiweb.co.uk) has a vested interest in giving feng shui guidelines as their business is obviously selling the goods, but those for this Year of the Pig make fascinating reading. In the northeast of your home, for instance, you could hang six Chinese coins tied in red ribbon to aid financial prosperity, and place a metal singing bowl (a stainless steel dog bowl is just as good, they say). You could also place a gold-coloured three-legged toad with an i-ching coin underneath, but in these rooms you must avoid using red colours, triangular shapes or ‘fiery’ pictures. If you are looking for love, in the north of the house place images of couples, photos, statues or paintings to attract romance. And if your bedroom is on the east side, shades of blue and black, and a blue painting (but not a water scene) may help you stay healthy.
Making a positive start
It’s important to start the new year as you intend to go on, to act in a happy, cheerful way; to make sure debts are paid and grudges forgiven; to avoid speaking of death or the old year. All energies are dedicated to ensuring a wonderful new beginning. The Feng Shui Store has a prescriptive list of what it calls “fun facts and advice” to ensure the best possible year. These include cleaning everything within reach “to encourage good luck in the coming year”, as well as switching on all the lights and opening all windows and doors. If you buy a new pair of slippers people will stop gossiping about you. Did they gossip because the old slippers were past it, perhaps? Do not discipline children; this only leads to more bad behaviour – for a whole year. Don’t argue, drive too far, use knives or scissors or call by name someone you’re urging to get out of bed – this will make them depend on you, for a whole year, for their motivation. In your spare time, clean every room from top to bottom. Wash curtains. Replace spent light bulbs. Turn mattresses. Check your car’s tyre tread. Get rid of cobwebs. Organise all drawers and cupboards – etc, etc. There’s a year’s work there alone – but as “fun facts” perhaps no one needs to take it too seriously. The spirit of the season –prosperity, happiness, long life, friendship and good fortune – is what matters, along with honouring ancestors and maintaining links to tradition. And because we live in a multi-cultural society, we all share in this exciting couple of weeks. Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Local supporting locals: Huon FM for the fire volunteers
The evacuation of homes and properties due to fires has been an unsettling experience. Many people are offering thanks that the damage to property wasn’t worse, although it has been a difficult time for breathing! Our sympathy to those who did suffer loss. Thanks, thanks and thanks again to all of those involved in the efforts to contain and fight fires. What a mighty job you have all done. Until all of the fires have been extinguished, it may be difficult to gain a full estimate of damage, particularly to the environment. In the meantime, life goes on. Supporting local businesses is important. A trip to our shops, including our local hardware stores over the weekend is a pleasant experience. In Huonville, the ‘sausage sizzle tent’ is a regular stop, where the Huon FM crew is often seen. Fundraising for Huon FM (the Southernmost Station in the Nation) continues throughout the year, for the station and others in need. Huon and Kingston FM is holding an appeal to raise funds for the Geeveston Voluntary Fire Brigade to assist in the purchase of essential and lifesaving equipment. On my visit to the Huon FM tent I met up with station volunteer David Milne. A very tired Mr Milne was one of the few residents still in Geeveston during the crisis, and able to continue his community service by broadcasting from the station. I asked him if he was able to give some comments: “The Riveaux Road fire that was first reported on January 16th had threatened a number of centres in the Huon Valley, and all volunteer fire brigades, assisted by fire fighters from the mainland and New Zealand, had put in a tremendous effort.” He said, “The voluntary fire brigade members had worked tirelessly to protect the towns threatened by the fire and it became apparent that there is a need for brigades to have access to more equipment. Members of the community can assist in raising funds in one of three ways. They can take part in our Cash for Requests by paying five dollars for a request or three for ten dollars. This can be done by phoning the presenter on air on the studio number 6297 1490 or the reception phone 6297 1706 during business hours. If you do this please nominate the program in which you want your request to be played. Alternatively you can send an email to email@example.com. All funds raised at the next two barbecues to be held outside Mitre 10 Huonville on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th February will go to the appeal. Alternatively you can make a donation at the station, at 10 School Road, Geeveston. Do this by phoning the station to obtain direct credit details, at the barbecues on February 23rd and 24th or by mail to Huon and Kingston FM, 10 School Road Geeveston 7116.” Mr Milne said that donating to the fund would be a tangible way of supporting the local fire brigade volunteers. Mr Milne encourages community groups in other centres to support their local volunteer
How our airwaves can help our community
David Milne is a professional journalist who also has over 40 years experience with community radio. With his wife Carolyne, he has been involved with local community radio station Huon FM for almost two decades. The hard-working Mr Milne is also self-effacing, and despite his profile on the media, past and present, he does not relish being in the limelight, preferring to promote and encourage others. He agreed to an interview because it could help others. I asked him questions about the fundraising; what the funds will be used for; Huon FM fundraising efforts; and how the local fire crisis differed from the fire in Dunalley over six years ago. “The funds will be used for equipment. I know they would like to acquire thermal imaging equipment which they don’t have. This is a big ticket item. The funds will be made available to the brigade to use as it sees fit, but they told me the purchase of equipment would be the best use of any funds raised. The Geeveston fire brigade captain is Steven Kingston, the second Officer Amelia Franklin. The contact is Amelia.firstname.lastname@example.org. We raised $1,000 dollars for the Dunalley fire appeal in 2013 through a Cash for Requests weekend. We also donated a percentage of our 2015 Music Marathon to Huon Eldercare ($1,000) and to cancer research in 2017. Because we are also asking for donations the response has been immediate and generous. Residents saw first-hand the efforts of fire-fighters. The Dunalley fire destroyed more property and the response was after the event. The two barbecues held recently brought in a total of $976 in sales and donations,” David Milne said. I asked David about how he came to be at the station during the evacuation period, and how many hours he had put in. “Because we are a registered community service organisation and have a memorandum of understanding with TFS that requires us to broadcast emergency warnings regularly, it is essential that we are staffed. Before residents were advised to evacuate I was able to come to the station. I am the only on-air volunteer who lives in Geeveston. When we were evacuated Carolyne and I stayed with friends in Huonville. I arranged authorisation from the police in Huonville to come back to the station to enable announcements to be broadcast. On two nights I slept at the station as it was not safe to go home. [About 150 hours at the station.] I read weather broadcasts with fire announcement every 20-30 minutes depending on the level of the warning. We had programs scheduled in or dragged across when needed. It is essential to provide accurate up-to-date information to residents. Many of our listeners have only marginal reception of the ABC. Because of the proximity to the Geeveston Fire Station I had access to frequent reports on the local fires and was able to get reports and interviews with fire controllers. Residents were grateful to have accurate and updated information. I learnt that many people do not understand the fire warning levels. They didn’t understand that advice level means that a fire is burning and could threaten property and towns. I think that there needs to be more community education. I also found that people were circumventing road blocks. I think that in the short term people will be aware of the need to prepare their properties. I believe that over the next few weeks many people will suffer reactions from the fires and may need assistance.” David Milne reminded supporters and donors that the Huon FM contact email is email@example.com. Our sincere thanks to all of the dedicated volunteers!
Where to next?
It has been an added delight to share my travels with readers of The Classifieds over the years. It has spurred me on to do even more research about places we would be visiting which always adds to the experience
So now for the next adventure, but before I even start on the places we will visit I need to research further the name of the ship ‘Vasco da Gama’. All I knew beforehand is that it is the name of an early explorer and that he was the one who made the sea voyage from Portugal, his home country, to India – and made it back home.
The ‘bare bones’ of the voyage from Wikipedia are that on 8 July 1497 Vasco da Gama led a fleet of four ships with a crew of 170 men from Lisbon. The distance travelled in the journey around Africa to India and back was greater than around the equator, and has been likened to a voyage in our time to Mars.
On his journey, he made stops at Mozambique, Mombasa and Malindi. His voyage opened the first all-water trade route between Europe and Asia.
But why did they want to go that way? The answer; trade, especially in spices like pepper.
The legendary Silk Road was an overland trade route that linked the spice markets of the east with the west. However, traveling through disputed territories in the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Peninsula was dangerous and time-consuming. India had already seen many foreign invaders in the form of Alexander the Great, the Arabs, and the Mongols. But they all came through the dangerous land route, in particular via the infamous Khyber Pass.
Shane Winser gives us a clue in an article The search for trade routes.*
“Vasco da Gama’s pioneering sea voyage to India is one of the defining moments in the history of exploration. Apart from being one the greatest pieces of European seamanship of that time – a far greater achievement than Christopher Columbus’s crossing of the Atlantic – his journey acted as a catalyst for a series of events that changed the world.
“By the middle of the 15th century, Portugal was the leading maritime nation in Europe, thanks largely to the legacy of Prince Henry the Navigator, who had brought together a talented group of mapmakers, geographers, astronomers and navigators at his school of seamanship at Sagres, in southern Portugal. …Henry’s intention had been to find a sea route to India that would give Portugal access to the lucrative trade in spices from the Far East…. For 40 years, Henry sponsored voyages of exploration south along the west African coast, resulting in a lucrative trade in slaves and gold.
“It was not until 1487 that Bartholomew Diaz set off on the voyage that finally reached the southern tip of Africa. By rounding the Cape of Good Hope, Diaz proved that the Atlantic and Indian Oceans were not landlocked, as many European geographers of the time thought, and rekindled the idea that a sea route to India might indeed be feasible.
“King John II also sent Pedro da Covilha, a fluent Arabic speaker, out on a dangerous overland journey to India. Disguised as an Arab, Covilha gathered vital information on the ports of the east African and Indian coasts during his three-year journey.
It would, however, be a further ten years before the Portuguese were able to organise a voyage to exploit the discoveries of these two explorers. In the meantime, Christopher Columbus, sponsored by the Spanish, had returned to Europe in 1493 to announce that he had successfully found a route to the Orient by sailing west across the Atlantic. (Of course, he had not!) The rivalry between Portugal and Spain for the control of trade with the Orient intensified.”
In all, Vasco da Gama commanded three major voyages to India. On the third trip he set out with a fleet of 20 ships, including ten of his own and five each under the command of his uncle and nephew. Their task was to consolidate Portuguese dominance of the route to India, which resulted in one of the worst maritime massacres in history.
A potted biography of a brave, clever, ruthless man; all words which describe Vasco da Gama.
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