More Than Mah Jongg

Last month, I went to a tournament with two of my buddies from our weekly Mah Jongg group. We had a blast. We not only enjoyed the tournament itself, but we also enjoyed the off hours: going out to dinner, sharing stories over wine and cheese and generally just having a stress free couple of days. And as we played it was very fun to get to meet so many other lovely ladies: old and young, all shapes sizes and personalities.That got me to thinking… Mah Jongg is more than a game. It’s actually a community: A group of women who meet regularly, in our case, weekly. I know that guys play too, but bear with me on my observances here, since our group is all women. Some of us have now been playing together for years. We’ve heard each other’s travel adventures. We’ve heard about each other’s illnesses and surgeries, weddings, new grandbabies, new pets and more. Some of us have gotten together socially too, even with our spouses, and we are often becoming friends on and off the Mah Jongg table. Then there’s also our MahJongg partners. Leah and I are often meeting together as I videotape her lessons, and Faye and I have done a couple of tournaments together. Arlene is one of our regular weekly members as well. That’s how MahJonggMentor got started: just chatting across the MJ table “wouldn’t it be great if there was a place you could get tips and strategies online that you can see instead of just read about??” So Mah Jongg can lead to so many friendships and even a business!

From my partner Leah, “I have met so many people over the years through Mah Jongg, I will admit I have met most through teaching. But the result is the same. Great, interesting people from all different backgrounds and cultures. If not for Mah Jongg, would I have ever met the lawyer turned venture capitalist from Canada or the family from Australia learning Maj together? I certainly don’t think I would have met the young couple building their dream home in Maine. Just like me, my students seem to relish the opportunity to meet new and different people outside their sphere. Sometimes having friendships with different kinds of people enhances your life exponentially. It certainly can give you a fresh perspective on life. So I say thank you to diversity and thank you to Mah Jongg.”

Here are a few other stories from our online friends at MahJonggThat’s It- a community of MahJongger’s on line chat room by Johni Levine. In fact that’s even another friendship story: I was travelling last year out west and Johni and I got together for breakfast at a great little eatery on Santa Monica Boulevard. She spent several hours with me; showed me her fabulous collection of sets and orphan tiles. She knew that I was bit by the collector bug, and she proudly showed me her rooms full of sets… I bet there were a thousand of them! She
gave me information about my several vintage sets as well. She’s a true lover of the game and the art. I am blessed to be able to call her my friend.

But let’s share some of YOUR stories:

Katie from Danville, CA wrote:
“I’m far away from the country in which I grew up, Hungary. All my relatives are there. I’ve also needed to move relatively frequently, because of my husband’s jobs. I have never really been able to make friends, until I started playing mahjong. First, I met ladies of my age. And it was great. But for a girl, whose whole family is thousands of miles away, the real treat was to meet people who could be my parents or even grandparents. They became my advisers, they gave me hugs, and they listened, when I just needed to talk things out. They are wiser and know more than I do. They taught me mahjong strategies, and life skills. And now, as I start yet another chapter of my life in yet another place, the first thing I’ll try to do is to find a mahjong group. Yes, I’ll meet people in our new neighborhood, and I’ll meet parents of my son’s classmates, but I’m really looking forward to making some great new mahjong connections in or around Danville, CA”.

Marci from Bedford, MA wrote:
It was a cold New England day. Sunday, December 24th. I called my MeeMaw (o’h) in Kentucky as I always did on Sundays. “You need to find yourself a Mahj group up there!” she told me. I told her that my friends were too busy to play now, so we’d not gotten together in few years. “You need a group. You can’t tell me there’s no Mahj group in Boston?!”
I ran my errands, concluding with the last errand I needed to run, at Barnes and Noble, getting a present for my mother-in-law. Because it was charity gift wrap season, I took my purchase and headed to the gift wrap table. It was being run by Hadassah that day. As I approached, the two women working the table were discussing the mahj hands they’d had during the previous week and debating strategy.
“Do you play Mahj Jongg?” I asked?
“Yes, we have a regular pickup game at Temple Emunah. It’s a sisterhood thing.”
“Could I play?”
“Sure! You know how to play?”
and I’ve been playing with them ever since, about 10 years.

And finally, Jan from Vermont:
“Last week, while I was in PT and my husband was in the waiting room, this lady with her husband walks in and she immediately goes over to the only other lady in the waiting area and says to her “Oh! Oh! that must be your car with the Mahj Jan decal. I’m so excited to find another mahj player”. I guess the woman looked at her like she was crazy and replied, no. My husband then spoke up and said “that’s my wife!” Well, she was called in for her PT session, but when I came out, my husband told me what happened and I went over to her husband and introduced myself. Then I went through my pocketbook looking for one of my cards so that she could contact me. Two hours later, I got an email from her followed by a phone call. It was instant friends and she invited us to their home for lunch today. I have to admit, walking into her home, it was like an immediate connection. We found our upbringings very similar as well as our lives running parallel in many ways. Before we knew it, 3 1/2 hours were gone! What did we talk about??? hmmm…growing up, Mahj, our family, Mahj, where we live, Mahj Mahj Mahj. I left there with a promise of sending her the rules for Siamese and a promise of getting back together soon so I can teach her. A very lovely lady and one I just know that we will be spending some quality Mahj time together!”

Would love to hear from more of you so we can add friendship stories to more Newsletters in the future.
Thanks everyone,