Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What I love about Taipei (written on an empty page at the end of my Xu Zhimo book)

It's the rythym of the streets and the life underground, the flooding of the masses into the tick tock (really a clicking sound) of the metro about to depart, or the vroom vroom of the eager motor scooters framed in about to explode motion at the traffic lights, or the incense bearers with sincere and purposeful intent at any temple, or the rushing crowds (me among them like the blue heron I used to see peering into the canal depths, so intent on eating) pouring through the seas of delicacies at the night markets.

There is a different feel to this city than in Beijing--that other northern capital--and I don't mean politically. There is a different pulse to life, as Jack London would say (some day I will have to write about that)--a different vibe. Rat-a-tat-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat! Of course, when I envision Beijing, I am working from memory. Here, it is fresh in my head. It is all around me.

I still remember that first time I walked the streets of Beijing, more than ten years ago, and the murmuring of the cicadas. It was constant and perpetual. Slow, soft, whirring. I remember the bicyclers; everyone rode in tune with that drone, slowly slowly did they go.

Well, there are cicadas in Taipei as well, not now, for now they slumber, but they will come. However, I assure you, they will conduct a different show.


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