On 29 Sep 2010, I had to drag myself up from my bed in the early hours of the morning as I was expecting a phone call at 6 a.m. The day before, I received an unexpected email from the producer of the 774 ABC Radio programme “Breakfast with Red Symons”, asking whether I would be interested in a radio interview. I told her that I am not good at public speaking and hence, will be nervous. She reassured me that she would ask Red to be gentle with me.

The phone ranged puntually at 6 a.m. The producer told me this interview is pre-recorded and will be broadcasted at around 7.25 a.m. However, when I tuned into the radio at 7.10 a.m. and listened until 8 a.m., I did not find my interview segment. Hence, I guess my segment had been scheduled earlier so I had missed it completely. However, the producer did email me the audio clip as promised earlier.

I have never liked to listen to my playback voice. I am always amazed by how slowly I speak and how unattractive my voice is. This radio recording is no worse than previous recordings of my voice that I have heard. I notice that I have habitually said “ah….” before each sentence. I had also misinterpreted twice what Red had asked me. Being an experienced host, Red had managed to ask me the same question later on, without embarassing me.

During the interview, Red asked me whether Altona has good fengshui. I do not know much about fengshui. Literally translated, “feng” means wind and “shui” means water. However, I do know that the Chinese people associate moving water with prosperity, good luck and money, and find it desirable to live near sources of water such as the sea, lake, river or stream.

Altona has water on all sides – Port Phillip Bay to the south, Cherry Lake and Cherry Creek to the north, Lower Kororoit Creek to the east and Laverton Creek to the west. Hence, not only has Altona a sea, it also has a large lake and three creeks as well as some drains/canals. Water features so highly in Altona that the Kooringal Golf Club takes its name “Kooringal” from an aboriginal word meaning “by the water”. I am not sure if there is any other Melbourne suburb that contains all these three elements of water (sea, lake and river/creek).

The Chinese also believes where different sources of water converge, the different “chi” or flow of energy will synergize to create a location of high significance. In this respect, Altona will qualify as having a very good fengshui based on its water abundance and the eventual flow of water from Cherry Lake and the creeks into Port Phillip Bay. No wonder Altona is destined to produce the first female Prime Minister of Australia!

Red asked me if the Chinese considers having a toilet in the house as bad fengshui. I was at a loss of words on how to answer this question. I could only tell him that he probably has a very old image of China as all modern day houses are equipped with a toilet inside the house. He probably thinks that the people in China are isolated from the rest of the world.

I am from Singapore and I am surprised by the radical changes taking place in China, including the liberal attitudes held by some young people. For example, it is now a fad for males to cross-dress as females in public places, many youths idolize Lady Gaga and whatever reality shows you can find in the West, you can also find the corresponding versions in China. My wife told me at one time, it is very common to see people in the streets, wearing their underwears on their outer garments as a fashion statement. I have yet to witness this phenomenon either in Melbourne or Singapore. I am pretty amazed by what I see on Chinese TV shows – many Gen-Yers are exhibitionists, fully exploiting whatever opportunities to demonstrate their “talents” on air. These behaviours are a far cry from the reserved character that most people have traditionally associated with the Chinese.