Thursday, September 28, 2006
Missing another city in Taipei
As I grow older, for me, Taipei is not Taipei 101 or National Palace Museum. They represent Taipei in tourists' eye. Lately, I have been attracted by really unremarkable stores and scenes. Not that I try to be different from other people. I just want to discover new things about this city and observe others' daily lives.
One day I passed by a barbershop near the apartment. In the past, I would just sail by without paying extra attention. But that day I paused because there was something special about the scene. The shop features Shanghai style of beauty. Two middle-aged men sat inside, and the barber is of the same sex and age. I do not mean to boast, but I have a feeling that Mr. Ming-liang Tsai (Taiwanese director) would find it quite appealing. Young people like me visit the most fashionable salons in downtown Taipei while a barbershop like this stands for a once-sublime era whose glow has faded. It is the Taipei city of the old generation.
I wondered for days afterwards. Is the barber really from Shanghai or the city was once the symbol of highly developed urban culture? It could thus attract more customers? If so, then he should change the name to New York, Tokyo or Paris because these cities would sound more interesting to most people nowadays. Don't take my suggestion too seriously. That's purely my personal imagination. However, like many people that scatter everywhere in Taipei, they live here physically, but their hearts dwell in cities they once lived or traveled to. A foreign supermarket, an exotic restaurant can be the only link they have to their past memories. Tiny or delicate as the link can be, it might have the importance like a buoy on a vast sea.
I no longer think about the city outside Taipei. My heart is getting really small and I can only focus on where I live. At this moment, I live by the memories of Taipei inTaipei...
Monday, September 25, 2006
Kissing goodbye to the taste of summer
Autumn morning, I wake up in the cooling breeze. I drag my sleepy body out of bed, starting the routines of a working day. Having everything done hectically, I rush out trying to get to work by 7:30. I plan to arrive at school around that time. With my muscular legs and strong will, there should be no problem to get to the classroom within 5 minutes. Before I go in and meet the girls, I'll take a deep breath and look as elegant as ever. Well, that's what I have in mind.
Everything happens as I have planned. At least it is so before I get off the bus. At that moment, I see the old lady selling asparagus in front of the breakfast store again. The slight difference is that she comes alone without her husband today. Yet her hard-working and optimistic attitude never changes. I want to draw this scene. I am pulled away by reason, which can't stop repeating that I am going to be late. After I move foward for a few steps, I turn back. My willful side wins. I throw beind my damned sense of responsibility and take out my camera. I want to record the taste of summer.
When the summer is about to come, the kitchen smells of the fresh yet enchanting asparagus soup. It claims silently yet tangibly, "This is my season!" Then summer starts officially. On the dinner table we are spoiled with feasts of asparagus for the whole season. Asparagus soup, asparagus salad. Summer without asparagus is empty and unreal. There might be soaring temperature and scorching sunshine, yet the tastebuds know that something is not right. It's not the Taiwanese summer.
Summer is to end soon. I will bear in mind the taste of asparagus and wait faithfully for the coming of another summer.
This post is dedicated to Traudl, who loves asparagus and Callipygia, who is an amazing expert on food.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
This year autumn arrived much earlier than usual. Way before Mid-autumn Festival, the air already smells of the fall season. There is drizzling rain from time to time. From a certain point of view, the season is rather beautiful compared with the sultry summer.
It's a pity that I so rely on the dazzling summer sunshine, like those who can't live without love. Though I complain about the impossible temperature every summer, the large amount of sweat is in proportion to my ample energy. Every summer day is a party for my mind.
My pace is supposed to be much lighter in the season without the unbearable heat, but I feel kind of heavy. My drawings are sorta lifeless. I think you know that too.
Give me some time for metamorphosis, for falling in love with autumn...
One Saturday at the end of summer, I captured an extremely adorable smile of the car mechanic at the pet dog on my way home from an art exhibit.
One Sunday evening in the early autumn, the road was terribly empty. With the slanting rain and cool wind, I made efforts to whisk away the sentimental feel of autumn on my way to the art shop. Meanwhile, the bulletin board holder in yellow impermeable was stationed at the crossroads. He was probably talking himself out of sulking over his bad luck about having to work on such a gloomy Sunday...
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
The beauty of being invisible
At the end of August, all students returned to school. Yet the construction work that had lasted for two months never ended. The whole campus was dusty, with mud dried under the scorching sunlight. A group of strangers settled in the school temporarily, changing the looks of our buildings silently. No matter how much trouble this caused the students, nobody saw them.
At noontime, when the bell for the break time rang, the chattering young girls were rushed into the classrooms for a nap. Outside, he had a vast space all to himself. He was invisible, but the satisfaction of deep and sound sleep was written on his tanned face.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Saturday, September 09, 2006
The night before my birthday, Grandma Moon said to me that as long as I am good, she will give me tons of surprises.
She did keep her words. Friends took me to the best steak house and gave me really warm hugs.
Old and new girls celebrated my birthday with passion and BIG cakes.
Even the waiter sang the birthday song for me.
Not to mention tons of gifts and cards. While I believed that was all, Grandma Moon said, "There is one more surprise. The big one!"
I have no idea why I am so lucky. I can only say with all the sincerity, "Thank you very much!"
Friday, September 08, 2006
Today is my 30th birthday. I painted a picture for myself and also for those who love me and support me.
The lesson of 30: Happiness is not somewhere faraway. It's everywhere in daily life, ordinary yet glamorous.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
The encounter between 30 and 15
1945 Bookstore was my window on the world when Iwas a teenager. School was over at 4 pm and before the six-pm cram school class, I had some time to kill. I would stroll leisurely across the presidential hall, anticipating the arrival of new books from abroad. As a matter of fact, that was my spiritual pillar in the stressful high school life. I loved to hang around in the bookstore, smell books, touch the fine stationery or try new pens. Insignificant as they seemed, they were very important rituals that helped me relax. Once done, I would go on my way to endless learning with my head high, fatigue well-hidden.
Then I went to college. I decided not to return to the crowded Taipei Train Station Area anymore. I was sick and tired of the inhumane educational style of cram schools. I forgot all about 1945 on purpose.
I passed by the bookstore once in a while, but I was never in the mood to go in and relive the past moments. Besides, more and more new bookstores like Eslite or Page1 were established. I simply didn't remember how happy I was reading in 1945 even though there was neither coffee aroma nor fashionable decor.
This summer I had a big chance to return to the publishing house of 1945. While waiting for Huei, I could finally slow down my pace and take a closer look at my old friend. Though I was there again and again, I never noticed that 1945 Bookstore was long gone. It was replaced by a gigantic pharmacy which seemed to have been burned. At 10:30 am, the door to the pharmacy was still closed. It felt quite lonely. The second and third floors where the previous bookstore lay, now belong to the City chain Steak House. Across from 1945, another old bookstore was replaced by restaurants and convenience stores. On the other side, the tall Starbuck coffeehouse stands there as a dominant symbol of chic urban culture. To me, these scenes are very foreign and distant.
After I said goodbye to Huei, I stayed for a few seconds at the crossroads. I saw my 15-year-old counterpart in the distance. I couldn't miss her unique style of strutting forth. Further, in the now-gone bookstore, I saw her standing somewhere reading books she'd desired to purchase. I greeted her and said to her: "You've always dreamed of the big world outside this island. But I am back because my dream has to be realized where I left." I walked away with my head lowering. I can't but be down-to-earth, but she was aware of my existence. We gave each other the most sincere wishes and we went on with our journeys.
The encounter between 30 and 15 was kind of sentimental, but it was full of brand-new hopes too.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
The secret of the back balcony
The summer rain lasted for a whole night. I didn't sleep very sound. In my dream I could hear raindrops patter on the window panes. When I woke up at five in the morning, it had stopped raining. Yet the air was full of that familiar sultry smell.
An interesting image flitted in front of my mind's eye. I took up my camera and went to the back balcony. Through the lens I saw lines of clothes. They revealed the traces of my new-born nephew. His mini clothes, mini socks and large towels were hung everywhere. In the picture I was going to take, the dark brown facade of the apartment filled most of the space. I could see only a very limited part of the greyish blue sky after the rain. This picture was ordinary, even ugly.
Then I thought of an image I kept encountering when I traveled in Italy two months ago. People hang their clothing outside the apartments whose lovely facade colors become gorgeous backgrounds for the flying clothes. No matter how the color combinations are, every scene is a fabulous postcard that amazes people. If I had been there when I was younger, I would have said, "How lucky I'd be if I could live in such a colorful place!" Now, I am still touched, but in the meanwhile I miss my hometown whose palette is never more than the three colors of black, brown and gray.
法國插畫家朱亞(Andre Juillard)心儀美國畫家哈波(Edward Hopper)的作品，前者說，後者的畫給人們的重要啟示是，即使看來最為平凡無奇的景觀，必有其神秘與詩意的一面，我在兩者的作品中體驗到平凡的美好動人之處。因為他們，我也開始追逐不起眼的畫面，於是逐漸愛上生活在台北城市。
The French illustrator Andre Juillard is a fan of the American painter Edward Hopper. The former said that Hopper gave him a very important lesson. In every unremarkable scene, there must be something mysterious and poetic about it. I experienced the beauty of being ordinary in the works of both artists. Because of them, I started to capture images considered common. Because of that, I gradually fell in love with living in Taipei City.