20 December 2006

Working on my thesis desperately

Dear friends who have been reading and supporting Principal Wei's Weblog,

I am now working desperately on my bloody, stupid doctoral thesis on Shanghai popular song, and hoping to meet the deadline; therefore, I won't be able to give you any new stuff on this weblog until I feel more confident, or probably more comfortable, of my work. Please bear with me for a wee moment. I shall be back as soon as possibel.

All the best and have a very happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.

PS. Poor me! Making a karaoke soundtrack while finishing my thesis. As I have promised my sister-in-law, my fiancée's youger sister, when I was still in Scotland that I would sing a Spanish love song, Aquellos Ojos Verde, for her and her bridegroom-to-be in their engagement reception, I am also now working desperately to make a karaoke soundtrack for it, because obviously they won't hire a cabaret band for me.

12 December 2006

Taipei is bloody hot!

I always believe I'm a cold weather person and should have been born further north. Taipei is really far too warm for me; it's still baking hot in winter. The forecasted maximum temperature today is 28°C and the minimum 21°C. I can't remember how I survived so many winters, let alone summers, in Taipei in the last three decades of life.

I would never forget how most Taiwanese screech when a Siberian cold front moves south, striking the island in winter and causing temperature to plummet below 10°C. Goodness me, 10°C is actually quite mild! The average winter maximum in Lowlands Scotland is only 6°C !

Mum has been telling me every several minute since I came back: put on a jumper indoors and one more jacket when riding the scooter outside so that you don't catch a cold. I would like to be Mum's good, obedient boy, but I will be sweltering and then stifled to death if I muffle myself in these togs which I deem only appropriate in Scotland.

Just like Stirling, Taipei is surrounded by 'hills', yet Taipei city is located in the Taipei Basin and those 'hills' are actually 'mountains' ranging from 2,000 to more than 3,000 feet high. Thus, unlike Stirling which is 'mild' in winter, Taipei is indeed a steamer all year round.

Sorry, Mum, can't be asked to do what you demand. Blame the subtropical climate and bloody global warming.

11 December 2006

Recollect Paris on the silver screen

Paris je t'aimeHaving not watched a film on a real silver screen in Taipei for ages, I went to Vieshow Cinemas, a chain of multiplex cinemas which, if my memory serves me, used to be Warner Village Cinemas operated by the American-based Warner Brothers but was somehow sold to another entertainment group while I was away in Scotland.

Since I had heard of good comments on Paris, Je T’aime from friends and positive reviews of it from several websites before I came back, and by chance this film was still showing, I decided to spend a night for it.

So true are what those friends and critics said. Paris, Je T’aime is indeed a tour-de-force that triumphs where some other collaged films founder. It shows us that Paris, a city whose beauty, history and culture few places in the world match, can not only inspire French virtuoso directors like Francois Truffaut but can also fill directors from different lands with passion and enkindle their imagination of love to construct their own images of the city.

The two-hour Paris, Je T’aime is composed of eighteen short films, each of which is about five minutes long, shot in different arrondissement in Paris, written and directed by a different person, and played by a different set of actors or actresses.

This film reminded me of the week I spent in Paris in 2001 just three months after I left national service. As the eighteen shorts ran one after another, beauty and filth of the city, amiability and arrogance of the people, tranquility and cacophony in the air, serendipity and frustration during my short stay, and love and hatred in this life were all released from the deep chasm in the curst of my concealed memory.

Out of these eighteen short episodes, my favourite is Wes Craven’s Père-Lachaise, where a British couple bickered over their relationship while visiting Oscar Wilde's grave at a cemetery but finally their impending marriage was saved by the phantom of Oscar Wilde. Indeed, how dull would love be should your so-called earth partner, soul companion only do whatever pleases you and never quarrel over any single petty or significant matter with you!

I haven't got any opportunity to visit Paris again in the last five and half years though I did go to the Continent on several occasions. I miss the grandiose Arc de Triomphe as much as a romantic glimpse of any nameless street corner café. I don't know if I would love Paris as much as I love some cities in the British Ilses; nevertheless, I like the ambience.

What a night! fourteen months later, I came back to Taipei from Scotland to recollect a long forgotten vista in the course of my life.

07 December 2006

Fire alarm in Heathrow

Fire alarmIt's been over fourteen months since I left behind teeming streets and boisterous crowds in Taipei last September, and after unsleeping 50 hours crossing the Boarders, the Channel, the Continent, Near East, Middle East and Far East, with all the best wishes from friends, colleagues and people of the local community, as well as my incomplete bloody thesis, I'm back in my motherland.

When I'm in good health, I slumber when night draws on and arise when morning breaks. I suppose I'm sharp and in fine fettle at the moment as I have already regained my desire for food and can sleep well again, thanks to the amazing antidepressant. However, I didn't get a wink of sleep during the 8-hour journey on the overnight coach from Edinburgh to London, nor could I have even a catnap over the 16-hour flight from London to Taipei.

The insomniac way home is probably the most enervating travel I've ever had in recent years, yet I would say it is an unforgettable episode in the airport that made the whole journey extraordinary.

As I couldn't check-in until three hours before the departure and I just couldn't be asked to be confined within the crowded departure hall in Terminal 3 of Heathrow, I decided to hop around the four terminals. Taking the free shuttle train to slide to Terminal 4, I started my tour around London Heathrow.

After grabbing myself a cup of tea, I picked a seat on the '-1' level of the terminal building and started enjoying some peaceful time. Several sips later came the most unusual yet hilarious incident that has ever happened to me. The fire alarm started; it seemed that, according to the babbling announcement, the boiler or something caught fire. Jings, crivvens an' help ma boab (Don't know this Scottish phrase? Haven't read my previous post? Click here to get a clue)! I though Heathrow was under terrorist attack!

Although my first though is 'run', no one gave the ear-splitting fire alarm a damn. About one minute later, people started budging their bottoms reluctantly from chairs at restaurants, cafés and so on, and moving tardily towards the emergency exit. I followed them with two suitcases at my hands to the ground floor, where the check-in counters were, only to find that everything ran as usual as if the shrill and beating of the alarm hadn't ever existed. Those who were just 'evacuated' resumed their chatting happily and drinking or eating whatever they had.

Did I overreact?

Slightly confused while entertained (what a start of my journey back home!), I shifted to Terminal 2 and had a pint. I deserved it after this farcical evacuation.