Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Taiwan characters: Eric and studying Chinese V

Eric posted his ad for someone to study and practice Chinese with him, then a few months later he was sure he had found paradise. Until it all came crashing down...

Eric turned his head and looked at Hsing-Cheng: “So you are saying the reason why there are always fights in the legislature is because of frustration; to show they are doing something. Am I saying it right?”

“Yes. No problems,” she replied. “Your Chinese is improving everyday.

“That is really interesting. Fascinating,” said Eric.

Background: apart from the stamp on the back of all products, ‘Made in Taiwan’ - Taiwan is best known for the mass brawls in the parliament that have made international news around the world over the years. The answer to why they never used to be able to talk out a problem was based on Taiwan’s rather undemocratic makeup at the time: when Chiang Kai-Shek was defeated by the communists and brought the Nationalist Army over from China, suppressing the 4 million Taiwanese who were already there, he was pretending to be a democrat, but there was a twist on his style of democracy: he claimed to the government of the whole of China, and so declared the honourable members of Nanjing, Xian, and Beijing that came with him needed to stay in the parliament to make policy for the little island of Taiwan, otherwise it wouldn’t be representative of the views of the whole of China. And, at the same time, those honourable members could only stand for re-election when they could return to China and face their respective electorates…Forty years later, the political climate had thawed such that Taiwanese wouldn’t simply be shot on the spot for a dissenting voice, and the number of seats for Taiwanese in the Taiwanese parliament had increased to maybe 20%. Still the honourable members for Xian and Beijing who were still alive were being wheeled into parliament with their drips – and pressing the buzzer on their chairs to rubber stamp anything Chiang Kai-Shek’s son Chiang Jing-Gwo wanted and block anything beneficial to the Taiwanese. Understandably the democratically elected and young Taiwanese members decided to take out their frustration, and show their electorate they were doing something, by taking a few pot shots at the old guys in the chairs.

Eric smiled to himself because life was great. He had put that advert for someone to practice his Chinese with and luck had fallen on him. Well, not immediately – there was the girl who had spoke English all the time, and replied, Oh, I thought you were joking when you said you wanted to speak Chinese. Then there was the one who answered the door in her underwear. He had been about to give up when he met Hsing-Cheng. Two months had passed in which she had happily taught him Chinese, not speaking a word of English.

He sat up straight on the bed, picking up the condom next to him. “You want a drink?”

Of course they were sleeping together - he had been wrong about many things in Taiwan but he knew no girl would give away free Chinese lessons unless she had an ulterior motive.

On the third lesson, after they had talked for many hours in Chinese, and he found out what a selfless, nice girl she was - he decided to initiate a ruse to get her back to his. She had initially seemed coy but he knew for a fact that they all were; he had learnt that you are supposed to ignore this otherwise nobody would ever sleep with anyone. He wasn’t culturally stupid on this one anymore.

Since then things had been even more perfect: she came around two or three times a week; she didn’t want to go for dinner or coffee; she never talked about their relationship or seeing each more often. She was just perfect.

“You are quiet today,” said Eric.

“You know we must stop this soon,” said Hsing-Cheng.

I see, thought Eric. The time had to arrive and I am not bothered. I am happy to say I am her boyfriend.
“I would love to have you as a girlfriend. Sorry, I should have said earlier,” said Eric.

“No,” she said starting to cry. “It is not right, I have a boyfriend.”

Eric wasn’t that surprised. He readjusted for the fact she was in an unhappy relationship with some Taiwanese guy her parents had introduced her to.

“It is okay. You can finish with him. I really like you and I am prepared to make a commitment,” he replied.

“No, you don’t understand. I love him. I will marry him soon.”

“So…uh….why?” said Eric switching to English; wanting to understand the explanation with no room for errors.

“I feel sorry for you. I like to help foreigners in Taiwan to pay back for when people help me in Canada. I know you want a girlfriend, but you should be honest in those columns. Not waste people’s time. I know you are shy, but you will find one. Taiwan girls are very easy…Hmm, I think best we don’t see each other again. ”

Eric wasn’t sure if he got off his bed again that day.


Unknown said...

Your blog has been amazing, I'm moving to Zhongli, Taiwan this summer and reading your first book has was great and made me reexamine some of my thoughts on Taiwanese culture and made me even more excited to head over. I can't find your second book on Amazon, hoping to find it soon, also hoping you have time to post more cause it's been great so far!

Prakash Mishra said...

Great Post.Tell me Hoe you manage to write this much?