Koszalin, 2016-08-10 21:08:00 +0200 I’m not exactly an enthusiastic schoolgoer, but there was a time of every school year when I was dying from anticipation and wanted to go to school as soon as possible. In September, the weather in Poland is still quite pleasant. In most years it was warm enough not to wear a jumper. Every year when I went to school, I was dying to meet all the pretty first-graders. Unfortunately, they were not so keen to meet me, but in the long run it didn’t really matter. 14th September is my birthday, but to throw a good birthday party you have to be at least a bit popular, so even on my 18th birthday I just drank three beers outdoors and somebody gave me three pizza slices. Then there is early autumn, when the leaves turn yellow and red, and the mornings start to get cold. When there are no leaves left it usually starts to get rather depressive, and it stays this way until March, but then again, life is not only about the weather and climate.
This year there won’t be any autumn of the type I remembered from Poland. I’m going to Taiwan in 8 days. It’s not exactly like the last time I was going to Asia. Two years ago, before I went to China, I went through a Period of Anticipation. This time it’s more of a Period of Panic. I don’t seem to really realize what’s going on. It feels like I’m going on a trip just for the weekend and not potentially emigrating for a substantial part of my life.
When I was in Lithuania in June, many Russian-speaking people kept asking me what I’m going to do in Taiwan. I usually answered бухать и соблазнять молодых женщин (drink alcohol and seduce young women.) But then I decided to limit my alcohol consumption, and contrary to a common belief, seducing young women is not really that interesting, anyway.
There is so much stuff I need and so much I know there’s no use bringing. On the one hand, I know that the Orient is not a desert or a jungle and that you can buy more or less everything, even shower gel and coffee. On the other hand, I’m not entirely sure if they have such exotic products as garam masala or basil. I also felt tempted to bring a supply of local beer, but with a 30 kg luggage allowance, it’s not exactly an easy thing to do. The Amazingly Likable Taiwanese Friend (further called ALTF,) which is a subject on her own, asked me to bring loads of chocolate.
I keep telling myself that this year abroad will be better than the last one. That I’ll be a better person, going to all the classes, not engaging in illegal activities (like the fishy English-teaching business) or illicit affairs. Last year I was suffering from very severe insomnia, which hopefully won’t be the case in Taiwan. To that end, I might need to employ the ultimate nutritional weapon of the Civilization of White People–vegetarianism. Anyone who has visited the Far East knows that the Oriental cuisine is not exactly vegetarian-friendly. Meat is ubiquitous in China, starting from beef and pork, through lamb and goat meat, to dog and yak meat in the fancier areas like Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture or Guizhou Province. Meat-containing snacks and dishes are sold in the streets and in restaurants, and sometimes the meat is so fresh it’s still barking (though more often than not it’s just old.) I’ve met people who were vegetarian in China, none of them Chinese, but I only admired them without following their example. But hey, there are perks to not eating meat. For one thing, not eating meat is cheap and saves you money for alcohol and drugs.
2016-08-15 12:32:30 +0200 On the train to Warsaw. I left home with an enormous suitcase, a 29 liter backpack bought last week, and my bicycle. I decided not to leave it at home for fear that my brother would ride it and destroy it.
2016-08-17 23:36:55 +0200 I’m leaving tomorrow. The few days in Warsaw have been a sort of catharsis. But hey, it’s full moon today and I did some Vajrasattva recitations, so it’s no wonder I’m feeling like I’m responsible for the whole suffering of this and all worlds. My earthly family has been unusually nervous the past few days. On Monday, before leaving home, my mother asked me what I was going to eat on the way to Warsaw. “I’m going to take these bananas and apples,” I said. “What about these tomatoes and cucumbers?”, she enquired. “I don’t have the capacity to take them with me,” I replied. We were speaking Polish but I used the English word “capacity”.
A few minutes passed before she asked me again: “So, how are you going to peel your cucumbers on the train?” “I’m not. I told you I have no capacity to take any tomatoes or cucumbers.” As it turned out, she didn’t take my words into account. “What about these dumplings?” The day before, we went to a restaurant and took some dumplings home (with potatoes, onion, and cottage cheese, known to each and every Pole as pierogi ruskie.) “I guess I could take these,” I said.
Upon leaving, I realized I couldn’t take the dumplings because they were covered in pork lard. “That’s a pity,” my mother said. “I peeled a cucumber for you and put it in the box together with the dumplings. Are you sure you couldn’t just put the lard aside and eat them anyway?” I’m not exactly the type of a kid that you have to force to eat veggies. I even got to like eggplant and spinach, though I never really understood all the fuss about zucchini and squash. But when I say I’m not going to take any cucumbers, then perhaps I mean it. I don’t get the whole point of forcing a 22-year-old child to take a freaking cucumber. I just don’t get it and it drives me bananas. Or should I say… it drives me cucumbers?