14
May
07

Processing

I’ve been so busy lately that I feel like I’ve been hurled through the past week instead of actually living it. I’m not sure exactly what I did that kept me so busy, but somehow I never got to finish writing about my last excursion before going on my next one. I’m probably going to give myself a PJ day this weekend.

Anyway, the brief version of the madcap driving about with my uncle and aunt around Chiayi:

Taichung– lunch, old building where there used to be exams, and huge tomb.

Then went to the great-grandfather’s house, grandfather’s house, and then the swanky hotel for my uncle and aunt and their friend, then to the Chiayi Performing Arts Center where we saw Cloud Gate 2‘s Oculus (I was rather surprised at the bit where everyone’s dancing in pretty just their underpants and violently pretending to scratch themselves all over the place. The bit where they danced with balloons was fun though.) I sat next to my first grade cousinlet who was hopping up and down a bit on the huge kid-friendly seat cushion which should be de riguer for every short person trapped behind a tall person in an auditorium (yes, I was envious, I admit it, though there was no way it was comfortable on his legs, since they naturally had no way of ever reaching the floor). His commentary was pretty funny too. (Disclosure: one of our cousins works with Cloud Gate.) I would have liked to peer around the Performing Arts Center grounds and dance in the rain afterwards, but there wasn’t really time.

Anyway, then headed off to my cousin’s place to be plied with fruit and spin tops with the cousinlet. (I now feel rather deprived that I didn’t have a cool top collection when I was a kid).

The next day we were up at 8 again to go peer at another tomb site nestled in the fields.

Then we were off to a really amazing photo exhibition about the history of Shinkang– there were photos of beautiful, wrinkled, cheery farmers, old women with bound feet, suited men in a band during the Japanese occupation, a group of men dressed for sumo wrestling, school photographs of children, just slices of life from before that reached to the present. I would have liked to poke around more, but my uncle was honking the horn for us to pop into the car and head off to this non-profit organization where there was a library (He got quite grumbly thanks to a woman who was calmly reading amongst the children. She was wearing a hot pink top that exposed a significant portion of her lacy green bra… Perhaps her book was so engrossing she just didn’t notice the neckline slipped.), classrooms, etc.

Then we popped off to check out a public school in the area as part of the historian’s quest. We ended up going back to the old house where we met yet another friend and my dad’s cousins. I attempted a Chinese/Taiwanese conversation and discovered that the distant relative that I used to be penpals with is actually in Taipei.

We ended up going to visit the pineapple field of my uncle’s friend, and he walked barefoot through the rows, lopping off a pineapple every few feet with his curved knife. Later he showed us his bare arms scratched by the leaves.

I had no idea pineapples grew on sort of spiky bushes as high as my waist.

A new pineapple plant is grown from an outgrowth like this. Pineapples in Taiwan are really sweet, and the centers are not as tough as the ones we used to pick up in the US which were too chewy to really eat. The area we were in (I forget the name of it) was really famous for their pineapples.

I slept through most of the car rides. My aunt and I did chat about a visit she made to the US that I don’t remember. Apparently I was quite resentful that she was going to be sleeping in my room and was a difficult child about it. I honestly have no memory of her ever coming to visit, but I know I was a pain as a kid (though my dear mother would protest… to a degree). That’s the weird thing about family that you’ve barely seen. The times you’ve seen them are the way they remember or think of you, naturally. In my life, my family are the most consistent in terms of people that have seen me as a child and as a… whatever I am now (probably not an adult per se in the grown-up sense of the word, though I vote).

However, a chunk of our interactions (especially those that are hampered by the language barrier) are often somewhat superficial– an introduction at a huge family dinner every blue moon. As a child, it was smile and nod time, getting my face picked apart– depending on the relative my eyes are my mother’s or my aunt’s or I look more like my father or more like my mother. A generous meal, which my brother often eyed with suspicion, would be served. Then while the grown-ups chatted, my brother and I would play slap-dilly-o-so or have thumb wars.

Part of the reason I’m in Taiwan is that I want to get to know my family better– those here and those back in the US through the shared history. However, sometimes I feel kind of awkward in family settings– I’m with kind strangers who just happen to have similar blood and have seen my baby pictures.

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1 Response to “Processing”


  1. 1 Lee
    May 15, 2007 at 8:07 am

    Looks like a great place, I cant believe the wages that they are paid and how most of the electronic devices are made in the world in those areas, their economy should be booming!


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