This post has been a long time in the making, probably because life often feels like a speeding chaotic train and I'm a conductor busy checking in passengers, relegating the monkeys and spitting pythons that someone brought along to the appropriate compartments (i.e. roof) and trying to avoid stepping on chickens and children underfoot, every once in awhile remembering to have a glance at the scenery. Yep, it's a little bit like that.
Nevertheless, a few thoughts:
2011 marks Year 100 in Taiwan, as their own calendar year count began a century ago, when they officially gained independence. Kind of. In their current guise of Republic of China. As Wikipedia states:
The Republic of China was formally established on 1 January 1912 following the Xinhai Revolution which itself began with the Wuchang Uprising on 10 October 1911. From its founding until 1949 it was based in mainland China. Central authority waxed and waned in response to warlordism (1915–28), Japanese invasion (1937–45), and the Chinese Civil War (1927–49), with central authority strongest during the Nanjing Decade (1927–37) when most of China came under the control of the Kuomintang (KMT). At the end of World War II the Empire of Japan turned control of Taiwan and its island groups over to the Republic of China.
To confuse matters further, a second, traditional lunar calendar is used in daily life in observing holidays and ceremonies and changes slightly year to year, falling somewhere in late January to early February. It's also called the Spring Festival (春節) and this year spring "officially" began on February 3rd. That means that was Day 1 of Month 1 of this particular аnnual lunar cycle, which ties into the Chinese horoscope and so happens to be the Year of Metal Rabbit.This is not so much a Metal Rabbit as one of Starbucks Bearistas for 2011 - a collector series of teddy bears dressed up in costumes for various holidays, such as Easter, Halloween, Valentine's Day, etc. I failed to get this one for my sister, as by the time I ventured out into the city on the hunt, they were all snapped up. Sorry, Xe!Another interesting note is that in Chinese the lunar calendar is called the Farming Calendar (農曆). Makes sense, as in days of old everything depended on the land and whether it was good to you or non-cooperative, ostensibly based on how well and sincerely you prayed and offered.
Just in case all those New Year celebrations were winding down a bit too fast for you, my community of Tibetan Buddhist students also observed the Tibetan New Year, which falls about a month after the Chinese one. So, a 1/6th of the year can be spent celebrating its beginnings.
Although spring "officially" arrived over a month ago, I'm not quite sure when and if it got the memo, as our weather goes through all kinds of seasonal changes, sometimes within a day. A lovely breezy sunny afternoon is just as likely to turn into a cold snap by night as to continue along its merry way of balminess. I think global warming has given climates everywhere one serious case of indecisiveness. All that whinging (that's one of those endearing Brit words for complaining) aside, right now it's a pretty stellar day outside my window and I should really take my grumbling outside to catch it while it's here.
My second semester started with a bang, when we all realized that the coddling phase of our program was well over and replaced with mountains of homework. I'm actually glad in a way, as you gotta put in the effort to really gain something and the seriousness of the workload actually feels like I'm in a real university program, rather than a stream of activities interrupting the regular schedule, ranging from compulsory KTV, to indecipherable presentations by speakers who forgot we had the language skill equivalents of 8-year-olds, to dress up gags to make the mayor look good with foreign presence, to all-day field trips with a more educational spin. Luckily, they've kept the last of the bunch and I'm much looking forward to next week's outing to an outdoor sculpture museum set on the Northeast coast of the island. Here's a preview:In other exciting news, I worked my very first gig as a movie extra for a bonafide Hollywood production of Life of Pi, currently being filmed mere hours from Taipei in Taizhong and I'm going to boast the honor of being personally asked to go down for the shooting, while riding the subway train and approached by a very desperate assistant casting director who was told to get 10 more foreigners or else! before the end of the day. So there is some possibility that in the final version a hand or toe of mine will grace the silver screen in the background for a 1/80th of a second. As the scene we're in is 1957 hot August day around a swimming pool en Paris, the dated bathing suits, make-up and wig! were pretty fun, even though they happened at 6am, after we'd arrived to the pick-up point at 3:30am and bumped along on the coach bus for hours. The rest of the day was a combination of freezing our everything off by the said swimming pool (it's still semi-winter here, remember?), doing the same thing over and over ad nauseum and waiting while we weren't needed for hours and hours on end. Really... quite a boring and exhausting day. But I can now truthfully say that I looked on the drawn and quiet persona of Ang Lee in the flesh and as he looked out across the empty swimming pool full of shivering extras waiting to be placed around the set, there was a moment where he acknowledged my garish make-up and pointy swimsuit chest and told his assistant to tell me to go sit on a chaise-longue... *sigh* Now who can claim that kind of divine experience? (Besides the 80 other people who were there with me? ; )
Anyway, the pictures people snapped at the set are all quite... illegal based on our confidentiality contracts, so I'll have to wait 'till the movie's out I s'ppose to post 'em here. I just started reading the book and it's quite deserving of its Booker Prize so far AND written by a Canadian! Go Yann Martel go!
Well, that about wraps it up for now. I'm off to another museum with my class and then, some homework and such things to follow. Maybe some autograph-signing sessions to follow, we'll see what my agent's lined up! ; )