Sunday, July 4, 2010

Not A Drop

In Which Culture Shock Comes Late, And Out of Left Field

Let me run through the water system for most buildings here in Taipei for you. For fun, let's do it backwards. You turn on the tap, water comes out. Where does it come from? Some pipes in the walls. So far, so good. Familiar. And where do the pipes get it? They get it from water tanks located on the roof of the building. Usually the water tank in question is metal, at least on the outside, and housed inside a cage of rusty wire mesh that's bolted to the roof. The tanks themselves are not rusty. They are shiny. And metal. Did I mention metal? Now, I don't know off-hand what kind of metal these tanks are made of, but let us consider standing in a suit of armor. Let us consider doing this on a day like today, when the ambient air temperature is 98.6ºF. On the outside of our bodies. Let us consider standing in a suit of armor in 98.6º weather out on the rooftop in the blazing sun.

Is it really any wonder the water that comes out of my tap is hot enough to sterilize canning jars?

I was reflecting on this today as I stepped out of my apartment to buy some food. I had just run the shower over my legs to try to keep them a little cooler when I went outside, but they dried almost immediately, and, of course, the water was warm. I contemplated the warmth of the water while I walked past the public koi pond the local temple keeps, and while I crossed the street, and while I bought my crushed ice and watermelon (with seeds) drink, and I thought of a Gary Larson cartoon I had seen once. Three or four people in tattered clothes struggle across the parched desert to reach an unexplainable drinking fountain in the middle of the sand. The one in the lead pushes the button and says, "Now just hold your horses, everyone. Let's let it run for a minute and see if it gets any colder." I thought of this cartoon, and it hit me, suddenly, there in the middle of the street, about to step into the sushi shop to get my cucumber rolls and bean curd - My God, I thought, none of these people have ever seen The Far Side.

1 comment:

Katy Williams said...

I was waiting this whole post for the shoe to drop -- or the hammer, or the lack of water, whatever the case was -- and your punchline was.... Gary Larson?

I giggled aloud to myself in the coffee shop I'm in. I had Hannah (the lovely with whom I'm here) read your post, as well, and she laughed, as well. Oh, but I have a witty wife.

<3 & <3,