Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Apr 12 2002

I arrived at the Taipei Language Institute, a.k.a …

I arrived at the Taipei Language Institute, a.k.a TLI, a little after 7:30 last night, but I couldn’t find Berta anywhere. I walked around the hallways and peeked into various classrooms that were mostly filled with rows of students chanting various Beijing-accented Mandarin sounds. Eventually I asked the woman behind the counter where the Taiwanese class was, and she took me to a small room in the back of an office where two men sat, one older and one younger. There was no sign of Berta, but they were obviously expecting her to show up at any moment. The younger of the two turned out to be Japanese, and the older one the teacher, of course. He wore glasses and was prone to making odd, birdlike motions with his hands as he wrote on the archaic chalkboard. Both his Mandarin and Taiwanese were flawless.

Berta arrived after a few more minutes of awkwardness, and we began to go through the textbook. I got the idea that the teacher had not expected to have more than two students, and he made a little speech about how it would be difficult to teach so many students with such disparate backgrounds. The Japanese fellow had formally studied Taiwanese a few years ago, Berta learned from her parents when she was growing up in the US, and I learned all the Taiwanese I know on the streets or in the army. I couldn’t decide whether he was being cautious or subtle about indicating that I wasn’t welcome. I have a week to decide, however, before the next class, whether I want to pursue it further. It would be good, but then again I do at least already have enough Taiwanese to use it to learn more on my own; I just need to get off my ass and do it. The only thing the class would provide would be motivation and structure.

In the middle of the class, Sho called. I went outside to answer, embarrassed that I had accidentally left my phone on, especially since I rant about such things quite a bit. We arranged to meet at the West Gate District MRT stop after I got out of class.

The rest of the lesson went well. The teacher had made it clear that he was instructing the other two and that I was just visiting, so I tried to limit my participation to answering his direct questions. I could definitely learn from it if I am just willing to spend the time and money.

After sending Berta running across the platform at the West Gate Station to catch the train out to Banqiao, I took the escalator up and found Sho waiting for me in the square that used to be the traffic circle. We walked through the pedestrian areas to a drink place and dined on friend chicken and spicey dofu. After a while we were joined by A-wen, one of Sho’s friends, whom I’d met at Funky that night as well. We chatted until the shop closed and kicked us out. I took some pictures of all of us before jumping into a cab home, since Sho said he had to deal with issues related to his grandfather’s funeral ceremony later that night. He did say we should get together today, though.

I put up a new picture on my photography page, and just for the hell of it, here’s a one of Sho.

posted by Poagao at 6:11 am  

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