Friday, October 27, 2006

I just saw another casualty involving a motor scooter

Luckily, this time it was the scooter and not the driver. It was in front of the Xin Beitou Kentucky Fried Chicken. You know the one. You can't miss it coming from the metro station. The scooter was under one of those yellow minibuses and a small crowd (including I presume the driver) was gathering around the scene of the accident. It seemed as if nobody was hurt.

It wasn't like that two weeks ago on Guangming Rd, which takes you to the divide (what used to be a river, but has since been covered up and converted into a road/parking lot) between Beitou and Xin Beitou. A girl was lying on the road--motionless; someone held his hand under her neck. Her scooter was discarded to the side.

She has been in my thoughts ever since. I wonder how she is.

Then, during the very same week, I saw another similar post-accident scene on Bei-an Road, near the Grand Hotel and RTI. Again, someone appeared to be hurt.

Soon after I moved into my place in Beitou, I was walking down Quanyuan (Source of the Spring) Rd., approaching Sun Yatsen Primary School where the road forks off up the mountain. You know, there is a perpetually blinking red light there. It never changes. It never directs anyone to stop, and cars come from three different directions. Only in the morning is there a crossing guard who guides the children across the street.

Other than that, you are on your one--like the chicken who tried to get to the other side (ha ha) or frogger in the video game. Sometimes its scary...

Well, one morning (I think it was while the children were walking to school) I was walking down Quanyuan (Source of the Spring) Rd., approaching Sun Yatsen Primary School where the road forks off up the mountain. That's Xinmin (New Citizen) Rd. A car was coming down--carelessly.

Simultaneously, a motor scooter was coming down Quanyan Rd--apparently also carelessly. I think that is the direction from where the scooter was coming because before I knew it, the driver of the car was slamming on her brakes and I heard a crashing sound--the car ramming the scooter and the woman on top catapulting to the ground.

People ran over to her and she slowly stood up, in pain. She looked like she would be ok and it was a good thing she was wearing her helmut.

And still, people keep asking me why I don't get myself a scooter. I'm sorry, I'm a metro person. It's convenient and so much fun to swipe my card.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Formosans would vote for U.S. rule

Michael links to this fascinating Time article about Taiwan (then known in the west as Formosa) from June 10, 1946:

World War II brought B-29 raids to Formosa, and liberation brought the scarcely more welcome visitation of Chinese bureaucracy. (Formosans use the adjective "Chinese" as a synonym for inefficiency and confusion.)

The new Chinese Governor Chen Yi found the raid-battered Formosans docile. He promptly put his nephew in charge of the Taiwan Co., which bought coal at 200 yen a ton and sold it at 4,000. Black-market gold sold at 300,000 Chinese dollars an ounce, against $180,000 in Shanghai. Even in fertile Formosa, mass starvation threatened.

Japan Got the Atom. Chen Yi rounded up scores of "collaborators" while his pooh-bahs made themselves snug. Last week "Down with the Governor!" posters appeared all over the island. In two towns, hungry natives burned sugar godowns. Formosans greeted the few visiting Americans with: "You were kind to the Japanese, you dropped the atom on them. You dropped the Chinese on us!"

Thoughtful Chinese on the mainland began to agree with the Formosans. Said Ta Rung Pao, China's counterpart of the New York Times: "Fundamentally speaking, China was not qualified to take over . . . she lacks the men . . . technique . . . commodities . . . capital. She governs, but is inefficient. She takes, but she does not give. This is the government's shame."

Most foreign observers in Formosa agreed that if a referendum were taken today Formosans would vote for U.S. rule. Second choice—Japan.

Friday, October 13, 2006

WARNING: The following post contains the F-word

I'm sitting in Starbucks somewhere in Taipei. There's a guy ordering at the counter. I can only see the back of his shirt, which reads: "You fucking fuck!" The words glare out at me. And no, this is not a translation. I wouldn't even know how to begin to say that in Chinese (but if anyone can rectify my ignorance, please do so in the comments).

Anyway, he stands for a long time with his back to me. I stare on in wonder, waiting for him to turn around so I can see what is written on the front. Curiosity is killing me.

And then, he slowly rotates in my direction, and the words gradually emerge; it is like waiting for the image in the photography studio.

Aren't you as curious as I was? Can't you guess? On the front of his shirt were the words: "Fuck you!"

I guess this is one of those situations similar to the youths wearing Che Guevara shirts: He probably doesn't understand.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Resign, Mayor Ma Ying-jeou!

Life in Taipei on National Day 2006.

PFP Candidate exploits traditional Taiwanese religious sensitivities

Here is the next installment in my series on the relationship between religion and politics in Taiwanese society (Walk through the colon):

I've been sitting on this for a few days now; I just haven't had the time to put it down into words. On Friday--Mid-Autumn Festival--I was sitting in the Xin Beitou Starbucks trying to finish up a translation I have been working on for what seems like ages. I took a sip from my latte...

And then suddenly I heard the sound of ritual drumming outside--you know, those big red drums. I looked out the window and there was a procession of little trucks going by. They are the kind of trucks that could represent a religious or a political procession. Of course, anyone who read my last post (the one linked to above) knows that I see little distinction. Read on...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ancestor Worship and Politics

Check out my new post over at Taiwan Matters!