Sunday, September 25, 2011

Péng Bó Tè (彭博特)

I can’t say that we’ve done anything terribly exciting the last week or so. I’ve actually been struggling with a cold which is now finally passing. Last weekend I was feeling particularly bad and was also scheduled to teach a “Club” lesson on Saturday titled “Words in Songs”. The lesson required introducing students to some western pop music and incorporating activities that would allow them to practice their English speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. It was unfortunate timing that I was as ill as I was. Shortly after arriving at my branch I was provided with a surgical style mask that is often worn in Taiwan when individuals are sick.  

The lesson went pretty well. As this was my first foray with the “Club curriculum” I planned the lesson straight from the guide and the students listened to some ABBA (Dancing Queen), Phil Collins (You’ll Be In My Heart), Old Macdonald, The Beatles (Yesterday), Michael Jackson (Thriller). Next time I get to teach the same lesson I will probably venture a little off script and perhaps incorporate some songs of my own choosing. 

I don’t know if the last week has been particularly bad, or if because I’m sick I am more susceptible, but I have noticed the air pollution much more than at any point since we’ve been in Taiwan. Perhaps walking to and from work every day along a fairly busy main road has not been the best for my health either. We have been told by colleagues that have been here longer than we have that as the weather cools down the air pollution becomes less noticeable. The weather has already begun to cool a little, which is a pleasure, but I would certainly be happy to see it drop another 5 degrees or so. 

Amanda and I are now six weeks into teaching and it is amazing how quickly the lessons have become easier (and quicker) to plan for. Amanda and I are by no means great teachers just yet and we do still take lesson planning seriously. The biggest difference that we’ve noticed is that any anxiety and stress related to lesson planning has now dissipated.  

In less than two weeks my parents will be visiting Amanda and I and staying with us for 4 days. Before then, we will be doing some serious cleaning, day-trip planning and most ambitious of all... trying to find a fitted bed sheet that actually fits the bed. Leaving our apartment to search for a fitted bed sheet, I’m sure we will share many of the same feelings of apprehension and helplessness felt by Frodo when first he left the Shire on his quest to Mordor to destroy the One Ring. Just as in the third LOTR installment, we watched as Frodo cried onscreen for the better part of three hours, I suspect that our quest for fitted bedsheets too will be fraught with tears and feelings of betrayal, but then ultimately with success. We must succeed. There is no choice but for us to succeed. The number of times Amanda and I have bought bed linen in Taiwan, only to find that it is the wrong size or something entirely different from what we needed, I cannot recall. Even when accompanied by a local Taiwanese colleague we were unsuccessful in finding something the correct size. One more failure in this regard will very likely trigger a schizoid embolism from which I will not recover. 

In preparation for my parents’ visit, yesterday Amanda and I had lunch at a restaurant close to our apartment called Tea-Work (人水私房). Upon entering the restaurant we were greeted by a host that spoke excellent English. We were seated at a table and provided with an English menu as well as a second menu that had pictures of of some of the main dishes. Amanda ordered grapefruit green tea and grilled tilapia with fresh salsa while I ordered a mango-coconut shake and a grilled chicken entree. Both our meals were accompanied by a tasty salad with what tasted like passion fruit as well as a delicious cream of corn puff pastry soup that contained vegetables, shrimp and crab. Shortly after my shake arrived, the host returned to our table to let us know that we had been served a mango shake instead of a mango-coconut shake and so we were served the correct shake and told the other was on the house! We really enjoyed our meals and will definitely take my parents there when they visit. 

Tea-Work, Taichung (人水私房)

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I’ll finish off this blog post with the news that now both Amanda and I have received our Alien Resident Cards (ARCs). Our ARCs are our official identity cards while we are living in Taiwan and they are required to obtain a scooter license, open a bank account, as well as a host of other things. 

Our ARCs also list our Chinese names which were chosen by our branches when they completing the paperwork required to obtain the ARCs. 

Amanda’s Chinese name is Lín Màn Lì (林曼俐). Lìn is the Chinese family name and Màn Lì would be Amanda’s first name. In Chinese culture it is customary for your full name to start with your family name instead of end with it as is the case in the west. Màn Lì were selected for Amanda because Màn is contained in Amanda and Lì is taken from Amanda’s middle name. In Mandarin, the literal translation of Lì is clever. 

My name is Péng Bó Tè (彭博特). Bó Tè were selected because the Chinese sound approximates how it was thought my English surname would be pronounced - Boje. Bó and Tè have a number of meanings in Mandarin as listed below: 

Bó    extensive / ample / rich / obtain / aim / to win / to get / plentiful / to gamble
Tè    special / unique / distinguished / especially / unusual / very  

Now that we have our ARCs, the next order of business is getting a license and scooter. You can be sure we’ll post on the blog as soon as there’s any news to report on that front!

Péng   Bó     Tè                   
彭    博   特 

Lín     Màn     Lì
林   曼    俐

WenXin Road at Night
Oh hi there!
Puff-pastry soup
Amanda's entree, grilled tilapia and salsa
Mango shake and mango-coconut shake

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