S … Sillivization


“We’re boarding already, Uncle Jim. I thought you were going to miss the flight. Where you been?”

“That’s ‘where have you been’, you know. Sloppy speech is overflowing from your texting.”

“Where have you been, then?”

“Oh, just nosing around. Went downtown for a little wander.”

“But this was only a six-hour stopover between flights. No need to leave the airport. You might not have got back in time.”

“No need? Will I ever have time to spend in Taiwan again? I can’t let opportunities go to waste. So I had a few civilized hours.”

“Tell me more.”

“Over in the far corner of this terminal there’s a little doorway, then a flight of bare stone steps that took me to a bus station. Map on the wall, all Chinese characters, but map language is universal, same as point-and-smile. So I got on a bus that took me downtown, dropped me off at a busy intersection, all glass and steel buildings and six lanes of traffic. But also an old Buddhist temple. That was relatively peaceful, so I went in and admired the sculptures and paintings and architecture, dragons and pagoda roofs. Sat for a while watching people come to pray, teaching small childen the rituals.”

“OK, what then?”

“Well, I got hungry for breakfast. Came out the back door of the temple into an alley full of coffin-makers workshops. One block down it became an old-fashioned walking street with little teahouses and restaurants. No idea what the food was, but one cheery old fat woman – she looked like a Buddha herself – waved me over and persuaded me to try some porridge and dumplings. Boy, it was good, I’ve never tasted the like before and may not again.”

“Hmmph, your stomach may be sorry later.”

“Maybe, probably not. Fine so far. Then I browsed for a while in a used book store. All Chinese characters, meaningless to me, but pretty; the handwritten ones were positively beautiful. The owner spoke some English and chose to educate me about the different scripts in return for telling him about living in Los Angeles. Name was Ah Chong Fee, he gave me his business card and said he’d e-mail me later. Who knows, we may become friends for life.”

“Probably not. You’ll never hear from him.”

“Maybe so, you never know. Then I sat with a cup of coffee and found my way back to the bus stop and then got here with lots of minutes to spare. It ws a relaxing, civilized few hours. What have you been doing?”

“I ate at the McDonalds over there, found a place to charge my phone and laptop, texted home, read the NYT on-line, napped for a bit, enjoyed more cute cats videos on Fakebook then started worrying about you while I stood outside the Starbucks with my latte. Except for the worrying, it was just like being at home, nothing foreign or strange. What I call civilized.”

“And what I call sillivized. Shallow, superficial, all-the-same commercial cocoon when a whole new world of experience is literally on your doorstep. But as you wish, a chacun son gout. Now let’s get aboard this airplane.”


Also find these older posts…
A … Angst
B … Brag
C … Clowder
D … Down
E … Errors
F … Folly
G … Global
H … Huh?
I … Immigrants
J … Jet
K … King
L … Lunch
M … Moby
N … No!
O … Once
P … Pundit
Q … Quibbler
R … Robot

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