Many years ago I lived in Kenya for 2 years as a US Peace Corps volunteer. I had a Canon camera (which I still have) and several lenses, whose capabilities I did not understand. I took probably 800 pictures during my two years there, back in the days before digital photography, when picture taking meant rationing precious film and financial resources. Most were terrible. And more importantly, few really reflected my life there. Only a smattering of pictures of local foods, for example. No pictures of the smoky atmosphere of a dingy eatery. No pictures of the old Iqbal hotel, where I spent many a wonderful evening snacking and chatting. Many pictures of my students, but somehow none really conveyed what they were like, and the lot that I had were not nearly enough. Nor did I manage to capture well the markets, houses, and buildings of Meru where I lived. I had some nice pictures of animals I took in national parks, but the lion that strolled past me in Meru National Park or the elephants that surrounded us or the baboon that ate all our food at the campsite were gaudy tourist images. They said nothing to me about my own experience.
The same thing happened in 1991 when I went to India with my wife-to-be. I took lots of pictures of forts and castles and temples and statues, and little of transportation, street life, food, clothing, or people. My picture taking skills had improved, but the problem of subjects remained. I hadn't captured my experience of India.
Heeding the lessons I learned, everywhere I go in Taiwan I carry a camera with me. Some ordinary pictures from an ordinary life...
I'm in my fourth year as an advisor. For graduation it is traditional for our English language majors to do a class play, and my class is adapting a play called The Foreigner. Here Doreen flashes her beautiful smile as she waits to audition for a role.
Sharon and Tom try out for a part.
Phoenix, the director, displays her vivacity and energy.
Kiki and Jolly watch the proceedings
One ubiquitous sight in the parks of Taiwan: old men playing chess.
My daughter, the goof, models her new glasses in front of another river penned up and useless for urban parkland and scenic development.
Traffic stacks up in front of China Medical College as local junior high schools, the university, and the large teaching hospital all get out at the same time.
Here's the reason we don't have TV at home: so the kids would develop the habit of reading everywhere they go.
Here's something that's been in my life a lot lately: Axis and Allies. Our family made a Big Board so we could play in ease and comfort. Zeb and I usually get a couple of games in on the weekends.
Here's where we went to get our scooter registration renewed. Service, as usual, was friendly and quick. The service staffer even overlooked the fact that we owed a fine. "The policeman's not here yet, or else you'd have to pay $800," she told us conspiratorially.
One place we've been going to lately is the large market in Fengyuan near the foreign police station. Prices are lower than in the Taichung markets. Here we stopped for breakfast at a local diner, and the cook is busy making some potstickers for my kid. They were wonderful.
The second most crowded nation on Earth after Bangladesh.
A young girl makes change early on a Saturday morning. For many children, life is an unending round of school, homework, and the family business.
My kids are slowly learning to use a camera, in this case my wife's old one. We gave them both digital cameras when we went to Sri Lanka last year, but now I regret not splurging on something higher quality. They just can't learn much from using a cheap digital job with bad plastic lenses. Nevertheless, they love taking pictures.
Taiwan's variety of meatballs is endless. We saw some imaginative ones that were multicolored and made with fa tsai (hair moss)
Part of the market is covered, but the market has long since outgrown its original area.
I love the wonderful colors of vegetables.
Keeping the sun off the customers.
Here mom and Zeb plunge into a crowd. I enjoy traditional markets very much, except for the noise.
As in many places in Taiwan, vendors selling similar objects all crowd together. This is a very efficient arrangement for consumers and suppliers.
One thing people don't really think about when they see the words "traditional market" is the omnipresence of scooters beeping and honking, shoving fumes in your face, and threatening you with burns and bruises.
We always buy spring roll wrappers from this shop because....
.....they are made in modern, sanitary conditions.
Shuang Bao Tai, deep fried dough with a very light sprinkling of sugar. Chewy and delicious.
Chess is everywhere.