Friday, February 6, 2009

Good Old Friends and Some New Friends (I)

1/24/09 In Taiwan, I have only resided in the Shih-Lin district of Taipei since I was born. My elementary school is in the area, 15 minutes by foot from the apartment that I grew up in. All my immediate family and closer relatives are almost all in Shih-Lin, and I am truly fond of this area. It is scenic, cultural, with great night life, great shopping, great food, and all that jazz. I'm sure every Taipeian (that is officially a word now, says ME) has their particular neighborhood that they are attached to. Mine is Shih-Lin, and more than thinking of myself as a Taipeian, I have to say I identify myself as a Shih-Linian, first and foremost.

To my amazement, many of my fellow Taipeians and Shih-Linians have stayed put and never moved away; or they have moved far away, and some for a long time, but then they decided to move back, despite the fact that they are quite international, really. Maybe they also sense the special something that I sense in Taipei and in Shih-Lin. Once you are a Taipeian, you carry a little of the oxymoron big-city-crazy and the small-town-charm of Taipei with you at all times. Today I met with some old friends and new friends which validate this observation of mine.

Before coming back, I made plans with my friend N from my elementary school days to meet up upon return. Like me he also hasn't moved since his elementary school days. (I mean, I've moved, but I'm back!! So it's as if I haven't moved. Right?) Finally today we had some time to meet up. N and I decided to head to the Takashimaya Department Store which is a short taxi ride away from the MRT station nearest my home. (Actually there's a free shuttle bus from the MRT station, too. Convenient! I will have to control myself so I hop on that free shuttle bus all the time...) The Takashimaya Department Store here in the neighborhood is very popular with all the locals, and it's got a good mix of high-end and affordable goods. I especially like the bookstore within as well as the restaurants within the Department Store.

N is a landscape designer at a large construction company and he frequented Vietnam for work quite a bit. As such we decided to go for Southeastern Asian food. Among the restaurants within Takashimaya, we decided on The Spoon, which is a Thai restaurant. The very finely decorated restaurant has a pre-fixe menu for two people (good deal!) and we got to make some selections also among the pre-fixe items. The service was great, too.

While enjoying the food we chatted about the elementary days. We reminisced about the good old days...I cannot believe it's that very many years ago!

N and I profusely complimented each other on how we each haven't changed whatsoever--which, I'm sure to whomever else would be a blatant lie; but the funny thing is I think we were both pretty genuine about this and it is true that we didn't have any problem recognizing each other from the good old days even though the last time we saw each other was at least 10 years ago, and, before then, when we were in elementary school. In fact, I didn't keep in touch with that many from pre-highschool days, much less elementary school days. N and I actually re-connected thanks to the Internet quite accidentally, about 10 years ago. Amazing. The cyber world.

We had some great food--Thai fish cake, seafood salad, and some delicious chicken curry. But of course the best thing was that I got to spend some time with some good old friend.

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