I’ve been so busy trying to master a bewildering array of skills – not the least of which includes the art of eating with chopsticks – in preparation of this upcoming journey, that I’ve not had the time or the fingers left to reach out to this keyboard and let you, my three loyal imaginary readers, know what is going on.


Where did these past two and a half months go?! And why did I ever stupidly, naively think that it would be MORE than enough time to lose 15 kilos and finally realise my dreams of uncovering my cheekbones (long lost – since birth, actually); become fluent in Mandarin (HAHAHAHA! I can’t even say hello without putting the rising intonation on the wrong syllable and therefore changing what ought to be a safe pleasantry into a linguistic landmine of potential insult…); AND find the perfect wardrobe that would deceive everyone into believing that I DO have cheekbones. And hip bones. And collar bones.

On the upside: Thanks to inyourFacebook, I have already forged firm friendships with some of the other international delegates and cannot WAIT to finally meet them in person. AND I have gotten in touch with my host family! A process which makes me feel like an alien making contact with humans for the first time.

At first, I was informed that I had another host family in a different area. But then, just two weeks ago, before I had even said as much as a virtual hello to them, I was told that they withdrew. No reasons were given, but I suspect that they took one look at my awful photograph and the essays I had written, and were forever traumatised.

My new family is located in Taichung City, the third largest in Taiwan and, according to the Google oracle, about two hundred kilometres southwest of the capital Taipei. They consist of 21-year old Tanya and her younger sister Page, their mom and their dad. I’ve been in e-mail contact with the sisters, exchanging photos (yes, I figured to just get the harsh truth out of the way quickly) and they look and sound utterly adorable and so-so-sooo kind. They are ALREADY going out of their way to make me feel extremely welcome and I’ve already fallen for the lot of them. Their mom can’t speak English, so coupled with my lack of Mandarin, I’m bound to be a farcical picture of wild gesturing – which, really, is not too unlike my usual mode of communication. However, according to the research I’ve done, even such innocent charades could lead to plenty of unwitting insults and rudeness. Winking is considered vulgar and so is the way in which we use our finger to beckon someone towards us.

And speaking of hands and fingers, that reminds me: the training on the chopsticks… it is not going so well, I’m afraid. Then again, my crippling lack of dexterity even makes eating with the aid of pronged and bladed western utensils a right – forgive me – fork up most of the time, so it really isn't that surprising that my chopsticks-wielding chops aren't up to snuff. After all, I can't even play Chopsticks on the piano!

I could either starve, which is not too likely, since I have way too many fat reserves in my backside, front side and side sides to fall back on. If you think that this might just be the thing to make me lose all this excess weight I’ve been lugging around since birth (WhadoyouMEAN I can’t still call it baby fat at 36?!), my reserves will mean that even if I don’t manage to successfully transport a single grain of rice into my mouth for the next two weeks? I probably won’t even lose a gram…

(Blog post powered by this shiny new accessory I’ve been sporting…)

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TerraShield said:

Hope you have a good time in Taiwan.

As for the chopsticks, don't fret about them too much. You'll get used to them after awhile... worst case scenario, you can survive on soup which I'm sure will be served with all your meals ;)

powder said:

Hi Red,
Can you believe it. I came across a photo of you in the paper the other day. I thought you looked very attractive, cheek bones included.

I am looking forward to hearing about your trip to Taiwan! I was going to say "your trip to the Orient," but then I realized that I don't know whether Taiwan counts as the Orient. Maybe you'll find out while you're there. But ... I can use chopsticks. Small victories.

Also, I'd like to meet all of your sides, even your side sides, next time I'm in South Africa, which will probably be in April, if all goes according to plan.

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is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)


  • Author Profile Page: I am looking forward to hearing about your trip to Taiwan! I was going to say "your trip to the Orie... [go]
  • powder : Hi Red, Can you believe it. I came across a photo of you in the paper the other day. I thought you l... [go]
  • TerraShield : Hope you have a good time in Taiwan. As for the chopsticks, don't fret about them too much. You'll... [go]
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