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Monday, May 2, 2011

Banging those drums

Every year just before Mother's Day, Amber's kindergarten puts on a show. Each class performs for the assembled family members, lot of pictures and videos are taken and a good time is had by all, even if it does mean sacrificing the chance to sleep in on a Sunday morning (not that I get to do that very often. I live with a five year-old, after all). As they have in the past, Amber and her classmates set their routine to the sounds of pounding on taiko drums 和太鼓. One of the prerogatives of being a parent is getting to inflict images and sounds of our offspring on the rest of the world, so this one's for you 大家/みんな:

After the show, Amber unveiled her Mother's Day portrait, which also featured a barefoot Dad with what appears to be either an earring or a teabag dangling from my right earlobe:

Amber insists, however, that it's merely "dust".

Following lunch at the in-laws' house, the Kaminoge brood drove over to the Diore swimming pool, where I was happy to see that nearly five years' worth of water familiarization classes/swimming lessons has paid off handsomely. I also was glad to finally have the opportunity to give my prescription diving mask a workout - for the first time in my life, I was actually able to see clearly underwater. I'm definitely looking forward to utilizing it this summer in Okinawa 沖縄 (gods be willing).

About the only thing to put a crimp (albeit, a small one) on the afternoon's enjoyment was the couple of times when Amber went down the long, winding slide into the pool, only to be hit from behind as she reached the bottom by some older children who couldn't wait for her to get safely ahead of them before they launched themselves at full speed toward the water. Fortunately, Amber wasn't hurt, but as is sadly too often the case in T'ái​wān​ 台灣, complaining to those supposedly "in charge" and asking them to "do something" was a complete waste of time. The pool had a "lifeguard" who sat up on a high chair directly in front of the bottom of the slide, but who did absolutely nothing about preventing any potentially dangerous behavior. He flashed the appropriate look of sympathy when I complained about the older kids getting too physically close to my little girl on the slide, but that was the extent of his "supervision". It makes me think that perhaps the next time we go swimming, it will be to the beach, where there would more space for Amber play around in the water, and not to an allegedly "supervised" pool.

T'ái​wān​ is full of officials and persons of authority who look, but fail to act, the part. They run the gamut from police officers who do nothing while motorists drive through red lights at intersections, to restaurant owners who prefer not to intervene while an obnoxious diner ruins it for everyone else and apartment building security guards who sit in their small offices bravely watching TV most of the night until there is some kind of disturbance, at which point they are nowhere to be seen. It's no surprise, then, that for all the genuine kindness that has been remarked upon by visitors to this fair island, there is also an offsetting lack of simple acts of civility in too many everyday situations. T'ái​wān​ might be the libertarian's idea of paradise, but it just adds an extra layer to stress to the usual laundry list of things to worry about when trying to raise a child in this country.

Enough ranting (I'll blame it on Samuel Adams). We did have a pretty good day, and that's all that matters for now. I'll leave this post with a couple of links, both from today's Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ. The first is a nice letter from Feng Chi-tai, T'ái​wān's representative to Japan: "Taiwanese cheering for Japan" The other is an interesting article on an exhibition of Kyōto's 京都 modern architecture ("modern" as in having been built during the period from the 1920's to the 1970's). "Making Kyōto's modern architecture part of the city's heritage" shows a different side to a city known more being the representative example of all things "traditional" when it comes to Japan.

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