Thursday, 17 January 2008

Taiwan memories and my grandparents

As I sit in front of the internet again, coughing and feeling malaise and crappy... I will write about my memories of Taiwan...

Roughly every 3 years since I was born I have been to Taiwan to visit our extended family. We see aunts, uncles, cousins but we don't always see them all (some of which now don't live in Taiwan anymore) but we always have come to see our grandparents. My father's parents live in Taipei and my mother's live in Kaohsiung (where I am now, still).

There have been so many memories and I was too young to even remember the early ones but I have photos and stories to remind me. My sister and I used to be the darlings on both sides of the family. For a long time we were the only really young children on both sides and were spoilt by our much older cousins, our aunts/uncles, and grandparents. Everyone thought we were cute and adorable. Then we got older and other relatives were born (who were younger than us) and then gradually we got not so cute, and older, and now it seems everyone is old(er) which makes me feel rather sad.

While my sister was here we were reminiscing over old times and how much fun we used to have here. We'd be taken around by our relatives and never have to worry about anything. We'd take taxis or cars, get driven around, taken out to fancy restaurants, get given red packets to spend, get spoilt with clothes and presents, it was awesome. Alas, those days are now over. It seems everyone is not only older but has more problems be it health, financial, relationship or otherwise. Noone seems to care about us anymore :( that is, except our four lovely grandparents. The cousins and aunts who used to spoil us so don't even know we're in town and even if they did we are not to bother them. I guess it is all part of life. People get old, people change, things happen.

Anyway, I have some really fond memories of visiting my maternal grandparents here in Kaoshiung. This house I've been coming to is the exact same one my mother grew up in which is kind of cool. It is a tall, skinny 4 storey building. About 15 or so years ago they did some renovations to it but it has largely remained the same. I remember in 1986 when we came and it was summer (which is intensely hot and humid) and my sister and I were obsessed with these creme caramel pudding things you got from the supermarket. After we ate them, we'd fill the cherry-blossom shaped plastic containers with water and freeze them. Once frozen we'd play with the frozen ice blocks and rub them all over our body and that kept us amused for days. Then there were the times we were taken to the nice department stores and spoilt with imported American toys like Barbies or She-Ras. Also there are mini amusement centres in these department stores and we'd play games and ride rides. We were also novelties to passers-by in these stores when people would stop and ask our parents why these two little Chinese girls (who looked like locals) were speaking fluent English to each other...

I remember the time my grandfather sold his motorbike and bought a car and we were driven everywhere. He even parked the car in the living room (kind of hard to explain) but then as the years went on and he got older he sold the car as he knew it wasn't safe for him to drive anymore so now we have to take the bus. While my sister was here we both agreed it was appalling we sometimes had to wait half an hour for a bus! This is unheard of in Taipei or Shanghai. Geez I felt I was back home in my little suburb in Sydney where public transport is crap and we DO have to wait half an our or more for a bus sometimes. I realised I had been too spoilt in Shanghai by having buses that came very often, or being able to take taxis everywhere.

I remember the time in 1991 when we came back for my uncle's wedding. It's scary to think that his son is now about the same age I was in 1991. I remember coming back in the mid-late 1990's and feeling a tad jealous that my grandmother was now all over this new baby/kid and I was no longer cute anymore. Of course she still loved me but it wasn't the same as before...

I have been back so many times now and each time holds a new and different memory. The house is the same but the people are slightly older and slightly different. My grandfather at age 84 is still going great guns. He is like a big old Santa Claus. He has a big belly and laughs a lot and has grey hair (but no beard). Given that their house is full of stairs he can walk them with ease too. My grandmother is a superwoman though. At more than double my age she is constantly moving, cleaning, cooking, shopping, walking, everything. She is non-stop man!! She is quite hyperactive. She is amazing. I am very lucky to have fallen sick here as she is taking care of me. She doesn't let me do anything. When I offer to she says she has it under control. She is a bit of a control freak too, though, I have to admit.

When I get to Taipei (if I can get onto the internet) I'll write about my paternal grandparents.

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