Taichung Outing

In stark violation of my code of ethics; which normally impedes me from rash acts; I'm putting an irrelevant picture of my new bicycle, at the beginning of a section, which otherwise introduces one of my private students, Melody.

This bike cost me NT$16,000.00, which is about US$485.00. I figured out that bikes are like computers; they get better while getting cheaper, even flying in the face of inflation. The last bike I bought was about 25 years ago. It cost US$700.00, and was half as good as this one. You do the math.

Actually, this is a whole other story, and I'm sure I'll have an opportunity to talk "bikey" things in some other chapter. Let's move on.

Here, we see Melody. She and her husband live in an outlying "village" area, a half a kilometer east of Dongshih. They're a good example of an upwardly-mobile new generation in small-town Taiwan. Melody has a Masters in Business and Marketing and teaches in a business college; she is working on her Ph.D. Her husband is working on a second Masters in Computer Science; his specialization is authentication. They have one son, Jerry.

AND they have a bitchin' house! They worked with the builders and architects to effect a clean, elegant, and spacious style, with Japanese features.

Here's the dining area. Note the adjacent Japanese garden.

They have a dedicated "tea room," seen to the right in this picture. The staircase goes to the study and bedrooms. All the floors are tile, marble, or dark wood.

The tea room has this little alcove. I guess it's a kind of upper-crust knickknack place.

Well, enough about the house. What's the story about my connection to these folks?

Melody popped into Joy School, asking about private lessons for her son, Jerry. I started giving lessons to Jerry. We spent a lot of time working thru the "Curious George" series, acting out the scenes and talking about the vocabulary.

After a while, I started splitting the time between Jerry and Melody. Over time, Melody got it into her head that I might be able to help her with the English on her dissertation. The deal is this: All the "good" marketing journals are anglophone; if you want to get published, it's pretty much par for the course to write your thesis in English.

Well, Melody and I worked feverishly on the English in her dissertation, and I learned a few things about marketing in the process. In case you're curious about what I do, I drew up a prospectus in the event that colleages of Melody might be interested. Have a look at it.

Anyway, to celebrate finishing the editing process, they took me out on the town, the town in question being Taichung. First, they did me the kindness of taking me to a camera shop where I could get 1) a good price on the Sony 5+Megapixel digital camera used in these pages, and 2) speakers for my laptop.

After that, we went to an excellent seafood restautant, where I nibbled fantastic food 'til I couldn't anymore. The place had both a buffet and a "cart" service which is sort of like "Dim Sum." They wheel in a tray of something else irresistable, and you keep from swooning long enough to order one. We took both buffet and the cart.

Beside the elegantly designed and perfectly lit interior, there was also an outdoor space, where you could enjoy the finely manicured garden, get a little fresh air, and talk a little louder; get a little crazier.

Well, now we jump back to Melody's neighborhood. When I ride my bike to or from her house, I pass this temple; yet another of the plentitude of nicely groomed little places of worship you just sort of chance on while tooling around the countryside or the city or...

Notice what a nicely-kept place this is. It's interesting to notice the different "feelings" each of these temples has; they have different shapes, sizes, ages, states of maintenance, color schemes, degrees of ornateness, and so forth. Someday, if and when I get more of the language under my belt, I'll be able to read the inscriptions and have more to say about the...well, come to think of it, I think that might be the wrong way to approach these things. I think there's a symbolic/spiritual resonance that derives more from non-textual cues—and I'll only learn about those if I actually start getting closer to the culture here; something I'm very slow in doing, to be frank.

Here's a front shot, and a closeup of the "sanctum sanctorum," or whatever it's supposed to be.