I’ve been torn apart so many times/Hurt so many times before…..

James Walcott wrote that “No man is an island.” And no better place to see that is in Asia/Taiwan, where ‘guanxi’ (connections) are made use of on a regular basis. In fact, it’s hard to get things done here without them. Recently, I had a incident that proved to me that maybe I should really work harder on getting off of my little island.

Last Friday, doing what dogs do best, my lovely dog, Chocky decided to dig up a potted plant I have on my balcony. Too tired to really be mad, I just went about cleaning it up. This meant, I pushed whatever plants and stuff he dug up down the drain. Around ten o’clock that night, my neighbors from the 3rd floor come up to my floor to find the reason their balcony is overflowing. I was washing clothes and the water was coming up thru their drain. It was clogged. So, we talk about it, and figure out that it needed to be cleaned. Today, I get the bill, of 3500nt along with being harassed by the guard to pay up. I had told the building manager to come and talk to me. But I know he didn’t want to do this because I had told him that this is more than what it should cost. The building manager is saying that is the going rate for a person to come out to snake a drain. I suspect that in the TW way of getting money for your inconveniences, they are overcharging me for just that, the accidental inconvenience.

I talked to a foreign friend to ask advice about how to handle this. He suggested talking to the ward office should anything happen and also to my landlord. Kept telling me that I should call my TW friends to help out these matters but the problem is I have no Taiwanese friends.

During my combined 2 years here, I haven’t made one single TW friend, or what I would call a friend in my book. I know of several TW people, but don’t feel comfortable enough to call them with my problems but that goes with anyone. I have never felt comfortable asking anyone to intervene on my behalf unless; I knew it was safe to do so. I several reasons for my behavior/thinking. Some of it I would like to blame on my parents, but that’s not helpful or necessary. And the other part I would like to blame on my past hurts and failures with making friends. Yet, it doesn’t really make a difference because in the real world, I have learned that one just gets up and keeps trying at it, never allowing one’s past experiences define what the present and future can be. At least if you intend on going somewhere in your life, unburdened from the baggage.

I hoped that my karma would kick in, all those times that I tossed a bone out to someone in need. Alas, it hasn’t. This whole thing just reconfirms how interconnected the world is, how necessary it is to be connected with others around you,(not just for gain) if it doesn’t seem that way in the West.


3 comments on “I’ve been torn apart so many times/Hurt so many times before…..

  1. amera hearts
    April 7, 2005

    Hey, let me get my knife and I’ll be there in a heartbeat to deal with those thugs!

  2. Anonymous
    April 22, 2005

    Don’t be a “stranger” and asking for those TWs you know for assistance, even if it won’t help reduce the bill, help build a human bond.“guanxi” isn’t possible, unless you interact and do favours back and forth. I am not sure you know this, but TW’s has a saying, “人情 can never be repaid”. The fact of a matter is, as a black person, you are both mysterious and intriguing to TWs – besides hallway greetings and meaningless chatter, you don’t know TWs and TWs don’t know you. “Reaching” out is a mental journey – if you are there watching and judging as a black person, it isn’t helping. The most worthwhile aspect of living in a foreign land is to reach the point when you can laugh the laugh, talk the talk, and form a bond with the place such that…some days, you will miss it.On a un-related note:There is a distinction between a race and members of a race. Back in ’92, there was an article in International Herald Tribune on Dutch feelings about Germany and Germans (especially the one they know) over German actions in WWII and the more economically prosperous Germans. The summary of Dutch attitude is “All the German are bad; except the one they know”. Interestingly, this is an apt description of Chinese attitude toward Japanese. You can choose to write everything off as “racism”. Or belay that and put on a human face and, sooner or later, each side will come to senses everyone is more same than different, regardless of skin colour.

  3. 纖毛蟲
    April 24, 2005

    <> “guanxi” isn’t possible, unless you interact and do favours back and forth. I am not sure you know this, but TW’s has a saying, “人情 can never be repaid”. <>I can’t agree with it more!Just try to tell those Taiwanese people you know about your situation, and ask for their help and suggestion. And some day your Taiwanese “friends” might ask you to do them a favor in a case which a foreigner would do a better job than the local. If that happens and if you can, do them this favor as long as it’s legal and it doesn’t make you uncomfortable. This is how Taiwanese build up Guanxi.Reaching out is the only way to make friends in Taiwan. I guess the same rule applies to me for living in the US. Reach out, and best of luck!

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This entry was posted on March 28, 2005 by in Uncategorized.
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