In An Elsewhere Place, Roy reminisces about his life in Hazaribagh—a place that 'touches a boy forever'.
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Called Hulu in Chinese, a dried bottle gourd or calabash is so auspicious in Feng Shui, it isn’t funny. Brace yourself for a little lecture. The first character, hu, is the homophone of a word which means ‘to protect’ and of another one which means ‘blessing’, and is said to ward off evil spirits and illnesses. In Chinese mythology, many holy men are depicted holding one, which they could use either as a receptacle for magical potions or to confine evil spirits within it. This is, perhaps, why it is believed that the gourd can absorb negative energy from its surroundings. Hulu also sounds similar to fulu, which means ‘happiness’ as well as ‘high official rank’. The slender gourd vines are called wan dai, which, in Chinese, also sounds like ‘ten thousand generations’, implying good fortune for posterity. Since there are many seeds in the gourd, it symbolises fertility. As you can see, it’s a tsunami of good luck. How could I not get one? I picked this perfect specimen from one of those 10 yuan shops near Shanghai’s atmospheric and bustling Yuyuan Garden area.
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