Many women who come to the Pearl Family Garden buy the lottery. They are always trying to figure out a “pattern” in the winning combination or their “lucky” numbers for the week.
Sometimes, they are inspired by dreams. Just as in ancient Middle Eastern culture, dreams are an important part of Chinese culture. Spring Lotus told me that she would sometimes ask her dead husband to “give her some numbers” through a dream so that she can win some money and send it to her son in prison.
She said, “Once I had a dream. I woke up and thought, papaya. But what number should I buy?” She went to the market and papayas were selling for NT$39 / jin. So she bet on 39 that day and won. Other days, it might be raining in her dream and she would bet on the number 11. People go to the temple and ask gods, ancestors or spirits for “lucky” numbers.
There are also many taboos surrounding gambling. Some people don’t like to be touched after they’ve placed a bet because “you might take away my luck”. Others think it’s bad luck to gamble after getting a haircut, bath or manicure.
There are many legal shops in Wanhua that sell lottery tickets and also many illegal places where people can place bets. A working class friend said, “The economy is bad … Poor people like us, what can we do with our spare money? NT$300 won’t buy you very much. We’d rather gamble and who knows, maybe if we’re lucky, we can win NT$3million.”
Gambling is a common activity during Chinese New Year. Ms. Lin bought a card. She showed me how 2 of the 3 pictures in a row were identical, “Look, I almost won NT$3million.”
– Sin Ee, Pearl Family Garden
(Wanhua District, Taipei City, Northern Taiwan)