Thursday, October 14, 2004


Could you read and understand the title of this post?
If your answer is no, you can imagine how my daily life is here in a small city of southern Taiwan – a place where only Chinese and Taiwanese languages are commonly used and I can’t understand the language nor figure out what the signs say and consequently sometimes, I get into odd situations.

After a short holiday, when I returned back to my local gym , I noticed that they have done some renovations while I was away. The showers have new curtains and now they have bilingual signs in the shampoo and shower gel dispenser. A great improvement considering that there is no other English (or other language except Chinese) signs around.
Although the 2 referred products remain the same, I was astonished to realized that for the past year I’ve been washing my hair with the shower gel and showering with the shampoo. I always assumed with no doubt that between two products: one transparent green and one yellow opaque, the first one had to be the shower gel and the second had to be the shampoo never realizing why my hair wasn’t soft after the showers at the gym!
I have to laugh at these situations, after all it’s my fault that I still can’t master the Chinese language and have silly assumptions.

Living in a place where people don’t speak another language but their own, which you can’t master and where you can’t read 99% of the characters, makes you develop an instinct to get around and grab reality with some kind of 6th sense - except it doesn't work all the time!
And in a way, my localized analphabetism, protects me from any unwanted propaganda and marketing pressures. I never pay attention to the millions of signs that bombard me along the day, for me they are just art!

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