Updated: Jul 18, 2019
14 February 2011
I was invited by the Singapore Club to speak and present some Feng Shui topics in Christchurch, New Zealand. The small community is made up of mainly members of families who settled there, as well as students from Singapore. I arrived in the morning of 15 February.
In between speaking engagements, I went on air with two radio stations. On 19 February, I was hosted and interviewed on Canterbury TV by my lovely host, Donna Manning.
While waiting to leave the studio, the sprightly receptionist in her 60's asked me if I think the Feng Shui of the building is alright. My answer was a 'No' as the infringements to the building was clear. One, the main door was way too small in comparison to the building size and two, the traffic light post was right in front of the main entrance. I thought it was an odd design but was told that it as an old building with much additions over the years. She was worried that the recent earth tremors were becoming too frequent.
We had the cursory chat and just before saying goodbye, I left her an advice. 'If you sense anything wrong or feel any tremors, go for the door'. The door was just six steps away from the reception desk where she was seated.
I left Christchurch on 20 February and was back home the next day.
On 22 February, as I was delivering a presentation for UOB Bank, disaster struck. A massive earthquake hit the South Island. Canterbury TV building collapsed bringing with it 115 lives, including Donna Manning and the many of the filming crew.
It was on TV that I discovered that there was only one survivor. Her name was Mary-Ann Jackson, the receptionist.
Many asked if I knew this would happen. The answer is No.
I, however, discovered a correlation. As is my habit, I choose my dates to travel. 14 February was an auspicious 'Open Day' and the day I left Christchurch on 20 February was an equally safe 'Stable Day'.
The day the earthquake struck, 22 February 2011 was a 'Destruction Day' with the 'White Tiger' star coinciding with the 12.51 pm local time. 'Destruction Days' are associated with destructive movements relating to earth (element wise) while the 'White Tiger' is often linked to accidents, massive forces and dangers to human lives.
It was difficult for me to come to terms with such a tragedy. For a few years, I could not bring myself to write about this. Seven years later, I felt the duty to turn this episode into a useful one. I turned to the Chinese Almanac which has been a guiding reference for me to choose and time important decisions I need to execute.
Originated as the 'Yellow Calendar', the Chinese Almanac underwent many changes until its current consistency in the Qing Dynasty. This is the 'Book of Everything' connected to the daily lives of Chinese all around the world.
It used to be customary for every Chinese family to own the annually updated copy of the Chinese Almanac regardless of it being understood or put into good use. Such was the affinity that it naturally became an object of reverence. It was no surprise that the Chinese Almanac later shifted its presence to assume a religious necessity. This misunderstanding deepened further and by the 1960's, its primary function as a daily living guide was a lost cause. It was most fortunate that a group of academics who kept the tradition alive was able to sustain its dwindling commercial viability.
Due to this neglect of its relevance and importance in preserving a part of Chinese culture, no serious 'updates' were made to this guide. More damaging was the failure of connecting the Almanac to the Chinese community around the world who are mainly English educated.