Sunday, August 30, 2009

There is a child in my heart...

Perhaps you may not realise
but all over the world
in every big mature tree
there temporarily lives a little child
who doesn't adapt well to the world.
They listen to each others' thoughts,
finding solace in the rhythm of the others' heartbeats...

At night their singing reaches the stars in heaven.
Their voices rise and fall like angels' hymn...

* * *

There is a child in my heart.
Everytime she feels completely at odds with the world,
she would hide in a corner.

In the corner there are songs waiting for her to sing,
puzzles waiting for her to solve,
memories waiting for her to watch,
dreams like fallen leaves waiting for her to gather,
to pick up...

Here, she breathes gently, and walks at a slow pace.
The blank spaces in between musical notes become music.
In the midst of silence, in the place where it's been left unmarked,
there is a whole new beautiful world.

There is a child in my heart.
Everytime she hides in a corner,
it is only a temporary absence --
because she needs a little bit of time,
to rediscover her place in the world.


Passages translated by Snowdrops from Jimmy Liao's "How to own a corner", Locus Publishing, 2008.
Image by Snowdrops.
All rights reserved.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Design that makes one smile...

Packaging design from Sophisca, a Taiwanese candy shop located in Ximending. Love the conventions-be-damned playfulness of their products. (To those not familiar with traditional Chinese medicinal products, the packaging in the above picture is a parody of the usual packaging design for a famous brand of traditional Chinese ointment - except of course in this case it contains yummy white chocolates, all individually wrapped with the same crazy design).

All candy is imported from Japan (emphasizing in small print that the dairy ingredient in their chocolates came from New Zealand) and repackaged in Taiwan. Genius!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

I miss Asian food!!

Food from Hong Kong...

Traditional dimsums from Luk Yu Tea House...

Look! Traditional dimsum order form with the dates printed on the page!

I begged the waiter to let me buy or take home one of the restaurant's branded utensils... to no avail... Sob!

Decent dimsums washed down with lots of tiny cups of tea... bliss!

Sugar cane juice freshly squeezed by hand...

Daipaidong snacks... Yummmmmm....

Curry fishballs from a street vendor sticking to his secret recipes who knows what he's doing and selling to locals not tourists...

Food from Taiwan...

Xiao Lung Bao done just so...

Tea served in a trendy cafe in Ximending...

When can I go back again???

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Recent book haul from Hong Kong and Taiwan

Have waited 10 long years for this haul.

And this is only a small part of the overall haul of books I got in Hong Kong and Taiwan while I was on holidays there most recently. (The Hong Kong book fair was to blame for the majority of my purchases, though it must be said that my Taipei trip involving the much-lauded Eslite* bookstore as well as the network of "underground book streets" didn't help). The two English titles on the far left are the books that I brought with me from Ireland to read on the plane - and while Virginia Woolf's essays served me very well (I always enjoy a good polemic, but a decently-written one that is infused not only with the author's passion but also with impeccable logic on the topic of feminism is as rare as dodo birds); I didn't get to start on Anthony Burgess's classic at all.

The books stacked up in a pile on the right hand side (excluding those illustrated novella at the top by Jimmy Liao, which I got from the HK Book Fair) were posted via the book delivery service at the original 24-hour Eslite bookstore in Taipei (unfortunately I could only spend half an hour there pursuing my quarry as my friend and I were in a hurry to pick up another purchase of mine elsewhere... but I still managed to locate 12 books in half an hour - averaging 2.5 minutes per book for decision-making before lugging the lot to the cashier).

Tribute must be paid to the very helpful Eslite staff who kindly assisted me with all the packing and posting in spite of my broken mandarin. It was testament to Eslite's customer service orientation that they included the book delivery service at their store, charging only the Taipei post office rates and providing packaging material and packing and handling service absolutely free of charge, and all done right in front of the customer. Amazing that the package was delivered within a fortnight to my apartment this morning!

My Taiwanese friend (who recently returned to her homeland after 6 years' sojourn in Dublin) however remarked that local Taiwanese no longer visit "Shing Bin" anymore, as they don't offer discounts to locals, only to foreign customers. To my delight, this turned out to be true: as I prepared to pay for my mini book haul (12 books aren't that much really for an almost once-in-a-lifetime visit), the cashier helpfully asked if I had any proof of my overseas status, after he realised that I was about to pay with a non-Taiwanese credit card. Thankfully I did have a photocopy of my passport photo page that I kept in my handbag, and he promptly offered me 10% off my purchases.

During that precious half an hour at Eslite, I managed to find the last published work of Eileen Chang ("Little Reunion"), a book that I missed out on earlier as it was sold out in the last day of the Hong Kong book fair (the only day that I could go). I also located another Chang - S.K. Chang, of the famed "Five Jade Plates" sci-fi novel. I didn't realise he wrote essays and short commentary pieces also, which he collected in two volumes titled "What men want?" and "What women want?" I was a bit wary about picking these two up at first, but after scanning the first article in which Chang discussed, with deft humour, the concept of tautology and how it's affecting everyday Taiwanese speech, I was hooked. I was also very fortunate to be able to pick up his seminal "Galactic Symphony", a book I borrowed from the library when I was still a kid in Hong Kong.

The other book choices, especially those in the left pile (part of my HK Book Fair loot) rather indicates how desparate I am to get up to speed on classical and contemporary Chinese literature. To wit: books about classical Chinese authors, books by contemporary Hong Kong female authors like Wong Bik Won (am really loving her "Postcolonial Notes" at the moment) and Chung Hill Yeung, and a couple of titles by Eileen Chang to help round out my existing collection of her works.

My concession to popular literature in Hong Kong is evident in the top left pile: a collection of short stories by the renowned lyricist Lam Chik (or Lin Xie as I think is the preferred Mandarin transliteration of his name?), a manga novella by an apparently hot-selling Japanese author (I saw some girls loading up on all of her titles at the Book Fair and felt strangely compelled to follow suit), and some nicely photographed Hong Kong themed coffee-table books, chronicling the old and new Hong Kong with the kind of retro vibes that are so fashionable these days.

These were, as I said earlier, only a small part of my once-in-a-decade book loot from Hong Kong and Taiwan (with thanks to my parents who helped bring these heavy tomes to Ireland as part of their more generous luggage allowance). More are to come via surface mail from the Hong Kong post office as well as the Taipei post office (with thanks to my dear Taiwanese friend who well understood the psychological value of a good Chinese book in Ireland).

I can't wait!

And, oh yes, the word on the lens caps oh-so-nonchalantly left on the coffee table says, "Nikon". Yes, I finally got my first ever DSLR!!!!!!!!!! Yay me :D

*By the way, "Eslite" always read to me as if it's being misspelt and was meant to have been "Elites" all along...

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Where are you from?

Que sera sera...

Feed my pet!

Currently getting stuck in...

Have just finished...

Me, Anime...

A bunch of snowdrops by any other name...

S is for Sweet
N is for Natural
O is for Open-hearted
W is for Worldly
D is for Dedicated
R is for Romantic
O is for Original
P is for Perfectionist
S is for Special
What Does Your Name Mean?