Monday, April 27, 2009

Obasan - Reason #5 to love Taiwan

I've decided - regardless of whether we move back to the USA or not, when we grow old, I want to return to Taiwan.

My old dream was to buy the Lishan Bingguan off the government and restore it, opening parts to the public and keeping part as our personal villa.

But that's not really necessary. I just want to return to Taiwan when I'm ancient, period.

As any of you based in Taipei know, the weather was absolutely horrid all weekend. In the mornings it looked like - as one of my coworkers put it - Gotham City, and it was chilly, dusty and drizzly without end.

Of course on Friday and today, two work days, the weather has been gorgeous (today is OK, Friday was spectacular).

So I head to my weekly dermatology appointment - cheap, accessible cosmetic medicine! I love Taiwan! - I realize that while I have to go to work later, the obasan (the old ladies who live in the lanes and spend their days sitting outside chatting) are all out, with their ancient dogs on their ancient chairs in their unfashionable clothes, enjoying the good weather.

In most American towns, you can't just pull up a chair outside your apartment building and form a chattering group of pensioners. In the suburbs you don't even live in apartments, and sitting quietly on your own porch gets old. But here, it's perfectly normal. More common in Kaohsiung, but it does happen in Taipei.

So my goal in life is to enjoy traveling and doing work I love while I'm young, and when we get old, we'll get a nice little apartment in the lanes of Taipei, wear dreadful clothing outdated by 50 years and bought at the outdoor market and cloth kung-fu shoes, and hobble down each morning to yak it up with neighbors. When I need to travel, I get my younger relatives to help and I can elbow people with impunity on the MRT and buses.

Sounds lovely.

If I could be an obasan now, I would. Sometimes I act like them; my dress style totally ignores fashion trends. Due to the nature of my job, on some days I don't have to go to work until evening, or I'm done by 2pm. On those days I am quite likely to sit with the old folks outside the building they gather at. They still chat in Taiwanese to each other, but are polite enough to include me by speaking to me in Chinese.

Oh wait. I already wear old lady cloth shoes, too. They're the only women's shoes in Taiwan that fit me and, when worn with pants, are vaguely acceptable in the office.

My transformation has begun!

No comments: