Sunday, October 3, 2021

Taiwan Love-Hate

The novelty of being here is starting to wear off. I know that’s an absurd statement on the face of it, given that I’ve been here more than two decades. “Novelty”? That I could use the word in regards to Taiwan--I suppose it reveals something of my character: compared to most people, my enthusiasms move and develop in geologic time.

Still, slow as I am to change, my love for Taipei is wearing thin. The roads always blocked by blockheads double-parking; the constant racket; the hardware stores and pharmacies with aisles so tight you can’t turn around without knocking things from the shelf; the crowded sidewalks, now with women pushing their dogs around in oversized baby strollers--and finally, this cursed tonal language that still, after decades of my singing along, leads to misunderstandings.

The Taiwanese are wonderful, yes, impressive in every way; you can’t beat the Taiwanese. But the space they’re crammed into, that’s another thing.

I did move house a few months ago, out of one of the city’s most double-parked districts. The new place I moved into was “christened” almost immediately. Within a week or so of getting settled I was shaken awake one morning by an earthquake. Then a major typhoon hit, which caused the ceiling in one room to leak.

But these things don’t really bother me. What bothers me is the piling up of annoyances in public space. The feeling of being constantly harried by inevitable nuisances that are no one’s fault, given the population density.

Whenever I arrive in Taiwan after being abroad I’m always greeted by the unique scent of the air. I’ve noticed it every time, starting from my first visit. The air of Taiwan smells of a faint mixture of car exhaust and rotting fruit. Sounds awful, but there’s something attractive in it, something that always cheers me as I leave the airport. For decades this scent has carried a certain promise, and that promise has largely been fulfilled.

If I left Taiwan I know I’d miss it, probably within a month after leaving. Were I to move back to the US, at this stage, I’d be in a somewhat foreign country, a land now made up of two distinct tribes, with rank idiots everywhere, especially in the leftward tribe. I’d join with the mostly sane tribe (with its small corners of idiots too) and try to do my part to save our tottering Republic.

Taiwan's subtropical climate, which I’ve not really mentioned, only exacerbates every annoyance I’ve cited above. It is a climate suited for mold and fungus more than for humans.


Runs With Scissors said...

Hey Eric, I miss how you express what's in that wonderful mind of your on Fascistbook. Hope you and yours are well. Tess in Texas

Eric Mader said...

@Runs With Scissors

Hey, Tess! Miss you too! You should come over to Gab. It's crankish at the edges, but there is no censorship. As for our Tech Overlords, it just keeps getting worse by the month. And now this so-called "whistleblower".


Many thanks!