Sunday, 4 July 2010

The influence of numbers

I first became part of the workforce in September 1984 after graduation. Six months later I decided to buy my first car because having my own transport was an essential part of my job and the organization that I worked in offered staff loans at a very attractive rate.

After deciding on the make of car that I wanted, a 1.5litre Mazda 323 hatchback, I went to the Road Transport Department to see if I could book a nice registration number. On the RTD's notice board was a list of new registration numbers on offer... of course the really nice ones (the ones with only 3 digits and those containing the number 8) were mostly taken up. But I knew there would be some that would still be available, especially those that include the number 4. Most Chinese individuals (and probably some Malay folks too) would avoid this number because in the Cantonese dialect it sounds the same as the word for `die' or `death'. In other words, not so lucky laa...

I ended up booking the registration number JBJ 4400 and paid only RM200 for it. Four-four-zero-zero... die twice and end up being nothing... twice. How's that for tempting fate?

Over the years, I enjoyed driving the car very much. It was nifty and had reasonable acceleration power, or to use the common local term, got good `pick-up'. Some people call the 323 as Tarzan's car.... tree to tree, get it? It was my trusty companion on all the outstation trips to visit project sites. Before the days of toll highways, I was a regular traveller on the old JB - Air Hitam road of the Federal Route 1. This stretch is famous for notorious road accidents and I chalked up thousands of kilometres on this route on my trips from Johor Bahru to Batu Pahat or Muar or Segamat and back, mostly without incident. I say `mostly'... because there were a few near-misses, very near misses.

That Mazda however, did get involved in a few accidents... two of which were serious because the car had to spend quite some time in the workshop for repairs. But these accidents I consider as not my fault because on both occasions, my car was hit from behind. After 4 years of trusty service, I decided to sell my car... not because I felt unlucky with it, but because I thought it was time for me to upgrade to a bigger one.

So, do certain numbers have influence on our lives? Many people think they do. While Chinese dislike the number 4, some people of western cultures have a phobia on the number 13. In the particular apartment complex where I now stay, there is not a 4th floor or even a 14th floor. The elevator buttons show Floor 3A and Floor 13A. I would assume, a similar high-storey building in the west, may possibly substitute Floor 12A for Floor 13. I was told that on certain airlines there is no row of seats numbered 13.

If there is belief that some numbers bring misfortune, there would of course be belief in some numbers that carry good luck. In Chinese culture, 8 is such a number. It is thought to bring prosperity. Some property owners go out of their way to try effect the favourable fortune that such a number is believed to bring.

One such example is the Swiss Garden Resort Hotel in Kuantan. We stayed there during our holidays in December last year. The hotel rooms are numbered with 4 digits starting with the numeral 8. This does not mean that the hotel has 8 floors (it only has 3) or it has more than eight thousand rooms. It's just the hotel owner's belief that having room numbers starting with 8 would be good for his business and maybe good for his customers as well.

While many people do not believe in the influence of numbers on their fate, most people do have certain numbers that they consider to be favourite. The legendary Malay film-maker P. Ramlee is known to like the number 3. Madu Tiga and Tiga Abdul are two of his popular movies. His Bujang Lapok series of films show the adventures of three comical bachelors.

So, do you have a favourite number?


Aizan Suhaira said...

It's true about certain airlines having no 13th row. AirAsia is one example. I just noticed it during my trip back from Phuket recently.

As for me, I prefer single odd numbers i.e. 1,3,5,7,9

Not sure why it's the case, but I juse like them.

Pat said...

I've never owned a car, and really don't really care about them - except wanting them to move from A to B, safely, and without breaking down. That's my favourite car! And it can be any colour or make. ;)

I don't have a favourite number either. Chuan was born on the 13th, so that's lucky, and I have a 4 in my birth-date - 24, which should also translate to 'die twice', eh?

Saw your suggestion to watch the Germany vs Argentina game, and coupled with the football fever of friends all around us, Chuan and I decided to join the crowd - and sat down for a night of 'Cup fever'!

What a match! I love it when there're lots of goals! Hahahah! 'Trounced' was a word we heard over and over that night!

The only 'name' we knew was Messi (from the Astro ads!!!) - and what a sad time he had!!! He didn't stand a chance to do anything, with so many 'guardians'!

What are your thoughts on the game?

lili said...

Salam Oldstock,

My favourite numbers have always been 6 and 7...and I guess you know why lah!

As today is 6-7-10, I'm wishing you A Very Happy Birthday! Semoga dirahmati Allah segala urusan di dunia dan akhirat, hendaknya. Thanks for the same wishes to me too over at my blog. :-)

D said...

Mind you, I think the Malays are also getting obsessed over numbers!:)

My favourite number is 3 simply because I remember thinking when taking the ablution, one has to repeat it 3x. Subconsciously, I think I somehow favour 4 more now because that's the number of things/food I'd purchase when I'm out (one for each child!).

anyway, happy birthday? what's the number there then?

Oldstock said...


Single odd numbers huh? Not in the least bit strange... I think odd numbers have character!

Oldstock said...


I actually didn't get to watch the Argentina - Germany game live. I was on the road from JB back to KL. I watched the highlights later and I think the Argentines choked up after letting in the early goal.

It just goes to show that even experienced players crumble under pressure.

Oldstock said...

Salam Lili,

Hey... I like the numbers 6 and 7 too!

The 6 is for craftiness... I have 666 as the last three digits on my mobile number.

The 7 is for spiritual support... tujuh petala langit, 7th heaven etc.

Thanks for the special day wishes. This time round it seems extra special because I now have someone who celebrates it with me :-)

Oldstock said...


Thanks for the birthday wish.. it is 48 this year. Wasn't really a particularly memorable day yesterday... but I'll write about it in a later post, maybe.

3yearshousewife said...

No lucky numbers for me but there is always a no 6 in my list of numbered things.

Oldstock said...


I like no. 6 too, for no particular reason other than it's my birthday. During those young days as a boy playing soccer, I always picked the jersey that had the number 6.