Wednesday, January 6, 2010

the twelve days of christmas

Are Christmas trees still up in shops and restaurants in the US?
They are here. People here have a penchant for Christmas lights and tinsel. I wonder how long they will stay up. The bus drivers have taken off the Santa suits and I'm glad. It was a little unnerving being shouted at by an angry Mandarin Santa Clause. (I don't know when to swipe my card because each bus is different. I get shouted at a lot.)

Today is January 7. My mother always drilled into us how the 12 days of Christmas don't begin until the 25th of December. Yesterday was the Epiphany. In the states there aren't many remnants of Christmas at this time except half priced Christmas candies in the drugstore. Here the music that gets piped into stores has returned to the general "elevator" genre, but the garland and lights are all still there. It kind of reminds me of home. Not America home, because in most of America trees and decorations come promptly down by New Years, but my mom's house home because we often didn't dispose of the tree until Easter. This morning a girl in my kindy class gave me a candy cane.
The candy canes here piss me off. Red and White. ok cool. Tell me why it tastes like strawberry!
Red white and green. ooh delicious peppermint in my mouth. NO. fruity sweet.
Pink with red stripes. Cinnamon. well, if i have to eat the Cinnamon....Cherry! Why is it cherry.
I was in an elevator and I swore I smelled a yankee candy cane. It was just me and an old man in the car. I inched closer to him and inhaled deeply. He got off at the next floor with a frightened look on his face.

My sister has returned to the US. Everywhere we went, cabs, restaurants, bars, on the top of a mountain cliff at the northern tip of Taiwan, in the seedy bushiban basement of my school, on the subways and busses, walking down the street: All Julia heard was "beautiful" "You are beautiful" Ni shi fey chang piaoliang. "You are very beautiful".
Its like one of those 1930s movies when some western starlit ends up on a tropical island inhabited by italians in grass skirts smothered in grease paint. They are so taken with her beauty that they carry her around for a month and then feed her to a volcano.
She was flattered at first. Then she started to get annoyed. Then she thought it was a cosmic joke. Of course, it is true. She is very beautiful, but the reactions of the Taiwanese to her exotic beauty bordered on ridiculous. It was also funny that not once but twice when people asked where she was from and I told them "Ta shi Meiguo ren" (USA is called Meiguo-Beautiful country) they then pointed at me and "Ni shi Eetali ren" (you are italian person). Twice!
On Sunday, Julia and I went to Keelun to a geopark along the coast of northern Taiwan. There is an area of sandstone that has been erroded by wind and water and the Dali-esque landscape is a popular tourist destination. It is like Monument Valley in miniature and some of the stones (if looked at from the proper angle) resemble things in life. There is "Mushroom rock" "queen's head" "Faerie's shoe" "Tofu"...
And next to the park is a small hike on a well maintained path that winds up a cliff to overlook the Pacific. As we walked and wound our way up the path we stopped to take pictures at and overlook. I family was up there and the were staring and smiling at Julia. Later when we were leaving the park we met the same family.
They spoke no english but he asked if he could take his wife's picture next to Julia. Then out of politeness they took another picture with me in it.
Then he began talking to us so I translated for Julia.
He says you are very beautiful.
He says he is an open parkinglot. No, he wants to know how we got here?
He wants to know where we are going.
I told him "We are going to Taipei"
More translation for Julia:
He says he is a bus driver no he says we shouldn't take the bus. no, he says he has a car and he will drive us.
I said to Julia (Let's take the bus we came on. ) she agreed that would be best. I had to work in the morning and didn't want to get kidnapped. again.

1 comment:

  1. What an arrogant priss, that sister of yours!