Friday, September 23, 2005

Hanging around in Taichung . . .

For some reason I haven’t talked about the buildings in Taiwan. They are either tiny or immense, mostly immense, and it is impossible to get from one side of the building to another. (I have been watching this closely and am pretty sure it’s a plot to keep out Americans because it makes you crazy real quick.) Not only can you not go from one side of a building to the other without going outside and starting over, they have a very strange way of numbering the rooms. Now this may not seem important to you, but if you are trying to find a classroom before the class begins, which is what one wants if one is the teacher, and it is about 98 degrees and 400% humidity and you happen to sweat a lot (Peter said he had never seen anyone who sweated from every pore in their body before; even my nose sweats.) finding out that some of the rooms allegedly on the third floor (like numbered 308, for example) are not on the third floor but have spilt over onto the fourth. Or sometimes can be found on the second floor. Apparently the concept of giving each floor a new number is entirely western and has not made its way to the East yet. Also they don’t like to have a 4th floor because the word for four sounds like the word for death, so if they have a fourth floor they put foreigners on it. (Guess what my room # is. 4228. Just me and some Japanese students are up here!) I am including a photo of a sign showing rooms numbered differently on the same floor so you don’t think I’m making this up.

And stairs are good. They make things more elevated, which is good. So frequently you have a set of stairs for no discernable reason except to raise something up a bit. This is no doubt very picturesque, but if you are the sweater (and I don’t mean a garment) and you are walking up your fifth or sixth set of OUTDOOR STAIRS, you can get a bit cranky. Not me, of course, but some people might. And then you get inside the building and find the floors have moved around, like in Harry Potter. It’s very interesting. The word inscrutable comes to mind more than it should, I know.

But if you can’t find the right room someone, anyone nearby, will take you by the hand and lead you there. This morning I was going to my 9 a.m. class and remembered the Friday class meets in a different room than the Wednesday class, for reasons unknown to me. A room that is one digit different from the Wed. room (214. 215), so one would think to find it on the same floor unless one has experience in these buildings. I looked across the courtyard to the floor above before starting over there and saw one of my students standing on the other side, looking at me. He waved. I would bet money he was trying to figure out if he needed to come get me . . .

The students are amazing. They think anyone from America is great, which helps, since they have trouble understanding my English because I don’t speak with a Chinese accent. They are unfailingly courteous and prepare for class. I wish I didn’t have quite so many of them, but I will do the best I can.

Today (Friday) I had lots of fun. I taught my class, and then took Jane and Tim Allen, Fulbright friends (she’s an artist), to the Providence University art gallery where the asst. mgr (the mgr is out of town) talked to her about an exhibit and/or a workshop. We saw the exhibit they have hanging and it's very nice. In November they are having an exhibit from the Louvre; I'm impressed by that. This is a good little school; it has a great library and excellent art gallery and a very good English dept. with a Fulbright in residence. (Did you know that?) I'm glad to be working here.

After the gallery we went to the Eng. dept office because Wu E-Chou (pronounced Woo Uh-Jo, the dept. chair and a really nice man) invited us all to lunch. He took us to a snazzy restaurant in a nearby college where we had a good lunch and a nice visit. Then he went back to work and Tim and Jane and I went into Taichung and went to a department store looking for hairspray and shampoo for Jane and me. We didn't find that but we did find some ladies' rooms that would knock your eyes out. One had an underwater theme and had fish everywhere, including some sailing around in the air. This was on a floor with children's clothes and it was for mothers and their children, so besides the regular toilets, which were everything you'd find in a Ritz hotel, they had a child-sized bidet and toilet. I got a photo with another person who was also photographing it so you can get a sense of the size of the toilet: very tiny. Then on another floor they had a loo that Coke obviously helped decorate. Each toilet stall was like a giant Coke can and the lavatory area was bright red w/Coke logos.

They had a nice bakery where we bought some muesli and bread and three chocolate deserts to take with us to celebrate Jane's birthday, which is today. I also found another chain or cord holder for my glasses, which I had wanted badly to find since I had broken the one I was using. (Not the one you made me, Barbara; I save it for dress-up occasions.) Then we went to the Thai restaurant Peter and I went to, Grandma's Thai (don’t you love it), and had the pad Thai and fish we had plus some shrimp and rice. It was very good.

Now I am here blogging so Peter will have something to read as Houston is closed down and he only has stale chips and beer to eat. Those of you who know me know better than that. I will spend the remainder of the weekend catching up on school work and preparing for next week. CNN says the hurricane will go in at Port Arthur, not Galveston. I pray it just goes away.

See you on down the road, as Leon Hale is wont to say . . .


At 12:20 PM, Blogger K. A. Laity said...

Hey Pat: Sounds like intriguing problems -- and we thought it was hard trying to get people from the Academic Bldg to One Main!

Just talked to Peter who moved all the stuff out of the garage in case of flooding. All the folks from the dept who said they were leaving gave up and came back, sometimes after sitting for hours on the freeway not much past the beltway.

We're hunkered down, windows covered, with a stack of DVDs. :-)

At 6:30 AM, Blogger Patricia Golemon said...

Hi, Kate and Gene,
Peter would probably love to feed you in return for watching movies together. I think he has gas and food, at least. Can you believe our garage is empty? I'm ecstatic. And I was not kidding one bit about the buildlings. If anything, I didn't present the whole picture. It's crazy, crazy.

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Michael Turton said...

Your pix are all over the place, at least in Firefox. They tend to load up different in different browsers. Did you do the HMTL manually?


At 10:44 PM, Blogger Patricia Golemon said...

Michael, I just use the blogger tool to load digital photos from my camera, a Canon. I use Safari, not Firefox, and they come out okay, except sometimes they overlap. I'm not much good at HTML.

At 1:48 AM, Blogger Michelin L.W.Y said...

Nice blog, Pat! Great photos of Taiwan. I am encountering the same problem of pictures overlapping in both Safari and Firefox viewing.

At 7:29 AM, Blogger Michael Turton said...

Hmmm...anyway, welcome to The Beautiful Island! May your mind and not your waistline expand.



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