***Another Traveller Series” is a journal of my 3 months’ stay in Taipei. I write because I want to memorise. I write therefore I am.***
Prologue: My first week in Taipei has passed, and I’m struggling a bit in writing Another Traveller series. The excuse I gave myself was “I’m settling in. There are many many many things to talk about. Which one shall I start?” In experiencing indecisiveness, I realised I accumulated more and more stories and observations that I couldn’t postpone another day, so I’m phubbing now at MRT.
The apartment I am staying in in Taipei is on the brown line, five stations away from the zoo. When I was telling people the name of the MRT station, they simply didn’t recall this station. With some explanations, they dropped their jaws, “It’s far!” “Oh, is it? It takes me only 45 minutes door to door to my workplace.” Places travelling within 30 minutes, with one interchange plus a total of 15 minutes’ walking are regarded as accessible, in my assessment. Aren’t they? Not to mention the trains coming every 4 minute are not packed at all.
I searched my accommodation on a website with the help of a friend’s friend residing in Taipei for over 10 years. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Admittedly picky about living space, I just don’t want to live in a coffin flat doing everything on the same bed. I also insisted to have a desk. Finally I came to this studio-like elongated condo with front and back balconies on the second floor.
The neighbourhood is filled with three-storey townhouses with cars or motorbikes parked on the alleyway and best of all, every household is planting at the front door or balcony. There is a Guiana Chestnut next to my gate. At this season, its fruits are hanging low yet they are inedible. One day, I saw my neighbour was picking seeds from the ground. I wondered how they can be planted so I collected some too. Talking about my neighbours, I smiled to greet them whenever I met them. The one living right across is a literary family, as told by my lady landlord. She lived in this condo for long so she got to know the family well. I started to read the prose written by their late father before the family moved to this townhouse in 1971 from a military community village (眷村). The lady collecting seeds that morning was probably the elder daughter, another screenwriter and author in the family. Not to mention two younger daughters and one son-in-law have published prose and novels, their mother has translated and published many books.
The temperament apparently fills the air and spreads across. Looking out from my condo, I begin to see things more poetic than they used to be – everything in soft tone. Ah – it’s the window screen! When I was working on the desk, on my right, I saw an intellectual cat climbing up to the window pane of their study on the third floor. She enjoys raining as much as I do when both of us are staying in shelter. Turning to my left is the back balcony for laundry. The window screen makes the laundry extraordinarily poetic, thanks to the creamy wall under the daylight. A mop leaning on the fence strikes a line so perfect that it’s a work of art.
This is what I called a little bliss of the week.