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 .
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
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 Lord ,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 Traveblogs