Saturday, June 24, 2006

Naruwan Taiwan

Never had been to a Chinese country that enjoyed unfettered democratic freedom.

The change was heralded by this




I like the way that letter ended , those last 3 words are used time and again by foreigners to best describe the quirks of that country and its colourful parliament.(Check this 1 , 2, 3 )

..and some grand freedom too , even in proud-of-freedom India or Bush country , I doubt if a protest wouldve been allowed right at the main entrance to the Hotel



...but hey , it was not without some supervision



...and some photo ops for Tourist brethren from less free Chinese lands .
Tamasha.Cheese.Click.



Given that approach to dissent , the news media has a ball.
Not sure if Indian media has yet reached this level of Frenzy.(Aye! to the Gents 1 , 2)
Every little restaurant/shop/barber who has a TV is glued to breaking news...no matter if its been broken to smithereens by 48 hours coverage.
In Taipei, News is King . Solpa contrast to pelvic grinding Jhankar in Indian small shop TV.

TV graphics on steroids

President Chen Shui Bian is facing a recall motion thanks to his wife trying to sell SOGO(ala Shoppers Stop) discount vouchers worth millions - new frontiers in under the table innovation.... and the media milked it.





...complete with flow charts






... and you know the media is doing more than its job when you have question marks and exclamation spicing headlines



..which might be alright if we are talking political scam. But speed limits?



...or a panel discussion with a dentist??




...and, yeah - I tripped on the blazing colours, sensationalism and Chinese dissent.

But this tendecny to cram every inch of eyeball real estate goes beyond Television, evidence this chinki chaat stall



Its probably no coincidence those TV screens remind one of Japanese TV games.
The Japanese cultural Armada has shaped a large slice of Taiwanese conscious...and street signage




Which leads to outdoor innvovations like this building(not an exception at all)
in downtown Taipei

Keep Gaping.



But there sure is more to this nation of 20 million.

I expected a Hong Kong/Singapore like aam junta disposition , and as anal as customers can be about procedure and precision , I found the people quite chilled out , unhurried and garrulous. Taxi drivers entertained me with their barrage of mandarin to encourage my spartan knowledge of that fascinating tongue.



..and to satisfy the famed Chinese libido , the city is peppered with Love Hotels . Complete with 24 hrs inhouse porn channels.



..and with Computex Taipei on and all hotels full,and while I lounged here , one of my colleagues solpa bent company policy by shacking in one of those .
If he did care to find out what Room Service meant in a hotel like that , he kept it to himself.

This is whats called a truly national beer.



.... much as this bird tries to paint itself in the colours of the Chinese Opera



I used to trip no-end on that Famous Grouse TV ad.


...and ofcourse no visit to a Chinese city is complete without guffawing at the Ingwen



Check it the guy inside , making a point as a Frenchie would in a Parisian Cafe.
As popular as golf is in East Asia, my guess is more business is carried out in Massage parlours than on the greens.

Meanwhile at Shihlin Night market -
Dear God! We have a situation , Consumerism is in overdrive.



...and I'm a selling the values on this T-Shirt



... and there are five Starbucks and seven 7-11's within 5 mins walk of each other



But then again , theres also street food to die for..



..and wash it down with some Chinese Tea ( thats now cosy with Japanese heating technology)



...or some bitter gourd and carrot juice



...yeah thats bitter gourd on the left , fat as fat cucumber and the colour of a ripe guava.



...but also Dear God ,look , heres a Cat striking a pose



...and Ray Charles is Smiling ... so maybe its still OK




Chinese Ray chose a vertical keyboard , probably because,back in the day , Chinese was written right to left and top down.As this vertical menu attests



On the 30min commute , often times saw stalls with bright lights and sultry women , on enquiry they turned out to be Ping-lang chi-tsi. Its never Ping-lang nuihai(Betel Nut woman) ,its always Ping-lang chi-tsi, like if we'd say Yeley Adke Apsarae









Imagined the stall back in the day when mini-skirts were unknown in China , a geisha with a red-tongue .

Much like the Indian association of beeda with sensuality....remember ? Khushboo in Nattamai jiving to 'Kotta paakaum..kozhundu vettalyaum..pottal vayyy sevakkum' ...buahahahaha

Anyway ...these bright neon lights are on every street in Taipei .The economics support that number , a pack of 7 little beedas , the size of a large bubble gum costs about Rs.70 .
And so the clientele spends more on Betel nut than does the average chain smoker on ciggies...and it has a cult following on the night-club circuit.

Reminded me of the days in school when we'd hoard up on Bambaiya from Friends Stores during the lunch break.

Ofcourse , I had to try some pinglang , and stopped by that chi-tsi above .



The Taxi driver warned me its addictive . I ventured forth boldly.
...and as I savored the juices , our friendly taxi driver went onto describe how a famed local fraudster not unlike Harshad Mehta , was sentenced to 10years in jail and the terms of confinement included only 20mintues a day outside the cell for a walk in the prison yard. Devout ping-lang chewer that he was, he pleaded that he be given ping-lang in exchange for giving-up the 20min a day walk.
Thats Stranger than Camus.

...and last, the place that served some kickass Taro bubble tea and reminded me to blog this.



Cross posted at Makyo Verandah

5 Comments:

At 6:08 PM, Blogger Vj said...

that's a wonderful post and the write up that goes with it .I liked it very much . thanks for sharing

 
At 10:47 PM, Blogger Elysia said...

How does one start contributing to this blog?

http://elysia.rediffblogs.com

 
At 4:34 AM, Blogger maybe sujatha said...

this is the kind of taiwan we would like to see- not the 'bring out the barf bags' malls and the museums . it was a friendly and immersive , and of course , incredibly funny . the kookiness and the colour reminds me of why so many people feel comfortable here in bangalore - a similar sense of 'we are like this only' . though without so much neon ...

 
At 2:18 AM, Blogger Devil's Advoc8 said...

WOW! i forgot for a few secs tht the scroll bar's gonna reach an end as well!
gud one! funny & spooky!

 
At 9:13 PM, Blogger blue dot green said...

It reminds me of my days in Seoul last year! Seoul has more historic buildings (which have been rebuilt after the fire)and is probably one of the cleanest cities in that part of the world, but the color the lights and the ubiquitos starbucks seems to be everywhere!!

 

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