The Sign of Four (or 3A in China)
|A Room with a View|
Why does the lift in our apartment block (and in every other apartment block in Shenzhen) have a weird way of numbering the floors? 1, 2, 3 - yes, okay so far - 3A, 4, 5, 6 etc. So why 3A? Because the number "four" in Mandarin sounds very similar to the word for "death". No one wants to live on the fourth floor because it must be unlucky, even though the whole building is covered with reddish-pinkish tiles that are supposed to bring good luck. (As readers of my previous posts will already know, reddish-pinkish tiles also have ghostbusting properties.) So how do we solve this problem? By not calling it the "fourth" floor. No, number 4 gets re-branded as "floor 3A" and then everyone is happy. Those who live on the new fourth floor can smile and say, "Well, really the proper fourth floor is downstairs. Actually, this should be the fifth floor!" A very Chinese solution to an even more Chinese problem.