Living behind 林森北路 turned out to be bad for the spirit. Every night I returned to an area known for hostess bars and 酒店 where a twenty-something lady with a fifty-something man was not a rare sight. Granted the accommodation was affordable and every taxi driver in the city knew where 林森北路 (Linsen North Road) was. But living there had its costs.
Do you believe in ghosts?
By the time I figured out I had to move, I realized I was in the midst of ghost month (鬼月) which, this year, ran from August 3 to August 31. Taiwanese (as well as Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc.) believe spirits walk the earth and you gotta be nice to them, lest they mess with your life.
I had two main things I wanted to do in August. First, move to a nicer neighborhood; second, get my open water certification for scuba diving. One of the first people I met in August warned me not to go diving because the spirits of the drowned may try to drag me under. At first, I thought, Malarkey! However, when I relayed this advice to friends, at least, four other people told me of their experiences with ghosts. These folks are my (Taiwanese) classmates from business school, old friends, and professionals who I recently met.
Apparently, there is a laundry list of things you shouldn’t do during ghost month including: swimming, returning home late alone, avoid moving into a new place, avoid getting married, walking in the forest/jungle alone.
I thought this was a strange series of incidences: In the middle of the month, on the way to NTU, I lost my wallet as I was exiting a taxi. It fell into the street gutter. Fortunately, a nice student found it and returned it to my department. Not two days later, I went out around midnight; suddenly, I realized my wallet had disappeared again. Twice in 48 hours seemed awfully strange…
When in Rome…
Thus, I postponed moving until September 1. Though I signed the lease in the third week of August, I didn’t move in until the day after ghost month.
Now I live near a busy street called ZhongXiao East Road (忠孝東路）which feels like the shopping areas of New York’s Broadway. People are everywhere. The main thing is these are normal people who don’t spend all their time in 酒店 or hostess bars.
One benefit was that I inadvertently moved to dance central. Across the street from my place is a giant club called Omni. But apart from this club, I realized there are maybe five dance studios along this street: HRC, Lumi, La Salsa, True Dance, Tanguismo, Arthur Murray. Not on the street but nearby: Dance Soul, Salud, Merrie Monarch.
On the way to Tanguismo, a random, married woman invited me to a Friday lunch time cooking session. She noticed from my accent that I was not local and thought it would be good for me to meet the people who worked on her building’s floor.
Environment can make such a difference for the psyche. Is it a coincidence that I’ve been spending the last few weeks learning salsa, bachata, and something called “locking”?