Last weekend, I fulfilled my week-long dream of owning a pair of Harry Potter wand chopsticks. After years of claiming to be too busy to do so, I recently made enough space in my procrastination schedule to read the entire series. Wow. I really wish I had started the books back in college when they first came out. For one thing, I would have understood many important cultural references. When somebody refers to someone as Lord Voldemort, for example, it does not mean that person it is just unpleasant to be around. Oh no, it means that they are the ultimate evil and you are being warned to either run away quickly or kill them before they kill you. Knowing that would have saved me so much trouble.
I picked up the series because Mollie Used Books (茉莉二手書店) had almost all the books in their Shida branch, which only carries a few English-language books in a tiny, closet-like space. I figured I would just buy the first book and see whether or not I took to it. Well, as it turns out, I finished it in a day, and then ran back to Mollie at 9PM looking for my next hit. It took me about a month to read all seven books. I got through them really quickly because I hauled each volume to my physical therapy sessions, where I managed to prop them up in my lap even though both my wrists were attached to electrodes. It was a lot better than watching the endless loop of TVBS’s scintillating reports about ramen safety on television (seriously, it seems like every third clip is about ramen).
I felt so sad when I finished “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” All of these wonderful characters and their magical, strange, frightening, rich, beautiful world had been a big part of my mental life for the past month. I missed them already. As Luna Lovegood would say, “It was almost like having friends.”
Anyway, I saw the Harry Potter wand chopsticks pop up on Monster Taipei’s Facebook page and I knew at once I had to buy them. Monster Taipei‘s toy store is located in Ding Hao (頂好) shopping mall on Zhongxiao E Rd near Sogo. The company, which hosts the Taipei Toy Festival, also operates Monster Gear, a newer, fancier boutique which is organized like a gallery and located a few blocks away. But Monster Taipei is where the real toy enthusiasts go. It is small, cramped and jam-packed with lots of toys and assorted tools for your geekery. There are even lightsaber chopsticks.
After picking up my magical eating utensils, made of the finest springy plastic and filled with a core of unicorn guts (i.e. more plastic), I told Ron that we could go to any restaurant for lunch as long as it served Asian food. We ended up at Kitchen Pucci, which serves Shanghai-style small eats. Here are my wands in action, picking up some delicious dumplings stuffed with sweet, fragrant chives.
If you are in Taichung and want to check out some cool designer and art toys, visit Monster Taipei’s exhibit One Day Children, which runs until early May. For reference, Harry Potter in Chinese is 哈利·波特 (Hālì Bōtè), Hermione Granger is 妙麗·格蘭傑 (Miàolì Gélánjié) and Ron Weasley is 榮恩·衛斯理 (Róng’ēn Wèisīlǐ). My personal favorite Luna Lovegood is 露娜･羅古德 (Lùnà Luógǔdé). For more name translations, see this Web site.