Friday, April 3, 2009

Taiwan culture: A Taiwanese man's home was definitely not his castle

It was impossible to judge Taiwanese man’s wealth from his home. Taiwanese didn’t think of their home as a castle, more of a warehouse for the storage of family before going out into the world - a kind of reversal of English budgetary priorities.

First came the kid’s education and no self-respecting parent didn’t include a spell abroad as a necessity. How long they spent abroad depended on their economic status: ordinary middle class would be an MBA to the tune of say 20,000 pounds; if they were upper middle class it would mean a whole degree - three or four years and up to 100,000 pounds; and if they were upper class it meant school abroad from junior high school to whenever the kid could stop thinking of excuses not to work.

Next was the best possible car, designer jewellery and clothes. When everyone was left in no doubt about your wealth, you could be extravagant and start spending some money on really frivolous unnecessaries like a bigger apartment so that your fifteen year old daughter doesn’t have to share a room with her brother.

...This was not entirely true as I was missing a stage, the TV set stage: you might only have a house made of corrugated iron, but you had a 42 inch TV, and you bought a bigger apartment not when you had more children, but when the latest TV couldn’t be fit in the living room diagonally anymore.

Finally, when your kid’s trust funds are established, your pension’s sorted, and each child has a luxury car, whether they can drive or not, you can start thinking interior design. Unfortunately, design goes as far as your sofa and tables and chairs, with the thickness of the leather being the standard for sofas and the number of square meters of orang-utan habitat for furniture: chairs and tables are sections of tree trunk with the surface of the table cut from trunks that shaded dinosaurs and would only need a few thousand years to replenish. Walls are never wall-papered or painted and floors were white tile.

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