Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 14 2001

I forgot to bring in my CD player to work today, s…

I forgot to bring in my CD player to work today, so now I am forced to listen to the usual self-important blather which is so prevalent in offices. I can’t even listen to Internet radio, since the firewall blocks streaming. I might just be reduced to listening to my cell phone radio.

An interesting, if not terribly productive weekend. I spent Saturday finishing up my design for the T-shirt I am going to make. I’m not sure if anyone will want to buy one, so I plan to make a few for my friends and anyone else that wants one. If they’re popular, I’ll make more. I hope it’s not too expensive, though.

On Sunday the air quality was terrible. I couldn’ figure it out. Usually when there is a typhoon or tropical storm in the vicinity the air is at its best. But that day there was a definite odor present when I opened my window, and a haze had settled over the city. It turned out that a huge complex of office buildings out in Hsichih was burning down at the time, lit by an insense store, of all things (“Gee, this towering mass of smoke and flaming, twisted metal smells GREAT!”), and the smoke must have blown over the city.

I couldn’t get a hold of Steve, who for some reason takes his phone off the hook when he leaves the house, and Dean had rehearsal, so I went down to Grandma Nitti’s to unload a batch of books I didn’t want any longer and have some brunch. I got NT$100 and three paperbacks for my 6 books, which is better than nothing. As I sat out on the porch, Fish, whom I haven’t seen in a while, came by. As we were talking, Richard showed up as well. Small island.

As I was walking up Roosevelt Road to pick up some computer cables at T-zone, I heard someone call “Hey, what’s up, man?” I don’t know anyone who would address me that way and ignored it. But it was actually my friend from Azerbaidzhan, Fuad. He talked up a new job scouting for various precious metals in the former Soviet Union. After I picked up my cables, he took me to see his new digs, which were nearby.

We walked into an ordinary 4-story Taiwanese apartment building, but at the top floor was a dark, round-topped wooden door with a brass plaque on which was engraved “The Doublin” or something equally anglophilic. Inside was a small maze of hallways, dark wallpaper, carpet, pleated leather-covered doors and heavy-looking gothic blackwood carvings adorning the cornerposts and ceiling arches. I had never seen anything like it in Taiwan before.

“This place was a brothel in the 70’s,” Fuad informed me. “But the police destroyed it in the 80’s. It is a normal place now.”

He took me upstairs to the roof and introduced me to John, a 70-year-old Bostonian who has lived in Taiwan for around 35 years now. John is short and squat and walks with the aid of crutches. In the summer heat he was clad only a pair of grey shorts. He was a university professor for a long time, but the government forced him to retire when he hit 65. He is on a tourist visa now and has to leave every two months. It’s amazing how many people I have met lately who have been in Taiwan for such periods of time.

We talked for a while about Taipei and how it has changed over the years. This man has been here for over twice as long as I have. When he got here there weren’t any scooters or cars, no pavement even. Just pedicabs and dusty streets, one-story, wooden houses. Lots and lots of rice fields and other farmland. He got here several years before I was even born.

In the course of our conversation various other residents of the apartment came and went. Richard even walked by, carrying his laundry. This surprised me as I had thought that he lived over on Chunghsiao, across from Sogo. No, he said, he lived there now.

Small island.

posted by Poagao at 7:23 am  

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