Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Gasman Cometh

We've had our gas shut off for about a week now. Something about the gas line being too old, slow gas leak, something or other. I finally got around to calling a repairman to come and fix it (with a little help from Ariel.)

The repairman showed up this morning a full 30 minutes early, and started to speak to me in a rapid mix of Chinese and Taiwanese. I assume he was asking about the gas lines and such, but he could just as easily have been trying to discuss the best way to flip an omelet without it breaking. My comprehension of Chinese is okay, as long as the other person speaks slowly, and sticks to the script of questions that I know how to answer.

How long have you been in Taiwan?
Over one year.
Ah, your Chinese is really not bad!
Thank you, I don't go to class.
So, do you like Taiwan?
Yes, I like it here. The people are friendly.
What do you do for a living?
I am a buxiban teacher.
What do you think about our current political climate?
Err...what...umm...nice weather today.

Finally, after realizing that I was just smiling and saying "yes, okay" over and over, the guy got to work on my gas line. He was trying to wrench the sink from its anchor on our kitchen wall, and after a lot of effort, finally broke down and called a coworker for backup.

This gave him a break to come over and sit with me in the living room, where I had been reading a book. He produced a small plastic bag from his coveralls and offered me a piece of "Taiwan ko-shiang tang" or "Taiwan chewing gum." It was, of course, not chewing gum at all, but betel nut, a palm nut wrapped in palm leaf and chewed by working class Taiwanese as a stimulant.

photo from wikipedia

He was surprised to hear that I knew about bing lang, and that I knew to remove the cap before chewing on the pulpy seed. Normally, when chewing bing lang, one will spit the resulting red juice into a cup (or on the ground if one is truly uncouth.) This gentleman suggested that I swallow it, in order to gain the warming properties that betel nut chaw has on the body. I opted out of that, since I really only accepted it out of politeness in the first place.

We had a chat, and chewed our nuts, and then his coworker arrived. They fixed the gas line, he showed me the fancy new on/off valve, and he left. Working the same schedule every day leaves me little time, or maybe just little will, to change anything about my daily routine, so having something different happen in my pre-work hours was kind of nice.



Blogger Rich said...

I bet those betel nuts could give you gas. Is that the connection?

November 22, 2008 at 10:08 PM  
Anonymous PROYECTOYOBRA said...

I like this blog

July 19, 2011 at 1:09 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home