One of the reasons I love living here in Taipei is spotting places from my family’s history, like the building my mom grew up in at 7 Taishun Street. Her dad, or my wài gōng (外公), built the house in the 1960s. According to this article, Taishun Street is a Hakka stronghold in Taipei. My mom’s family is Hakka and we still have relatives in Miao Li county (苗栗縣), where many Hakka settled. My mom’s family occupied the top floor of 7 Taishun Street after her parents sold the other floors to various cousins. Based on what my parents told me, the house still looks pretty much the same with blue and green tiles covering the front. It’s a really nice house, if I do say so myself.
When my dad was courting my mom, he used to hang out by the big blue front door and wait for her–or she eagerly waited there for him, depending on which one of them you ask. My dad told me that they would go out and eat beef noodles at restaurants around Shida (the neighborhood is famous for having the best beef noodles in Taiwan). When my dad visited Taipei last fall, he went back to one of the restaurants he’d frequented in his youth, but he said the “new generation” could not recapture the flavor he remembered. I went to a beef noodle restaurant (supposedly the second-best in all of Taipei) with my classmates yesterday and I thought the noodles were pretty darn tasty, but I’ll have to ask my dad what his expert opinion is when my parents come to visit in November.
One of the main reasons I moved to Taipei was because I wanted to reconnect with my heritage. I was the first member of my family born in America, and I never really had a sense of my family’s history, aside from what my parents told me from time to time. When I was about twelve or thirteen, I first developed my ongoing fixation with vintage clothes and collectibles–I think part of the reason was that it gave me a sense of connection to the past, even if it was not technically my past. I know that for some people it’s not a big deal to live near, or even in, the house their parents grew up in, but for me it is. I hope I leave Taipei with a more cohesive sense of my family’s history; having never had that before, I think it will have an immeasurable impact on my sense of self.
Anyway, I should go to sleep now–I have my first big exam tomorrow. I think I have the characters pretty well memorized, but I have to get up tomorrow morning and re-test myself. I’ll post soon about my class and study methods.