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Thread: The Last Hurrah.

  1. #1
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    The Last Hurrah.

    It's not that I needed this new job in the Far East.

    Let me explain. At seventy five and still kicking; I had made my money, served my time, raised my kids, paid off my mortgage, got up late, joined a gym and told myself in as strict a manner as I could muster, that convential wisdom determined that I should retire.

    So far, so good. Except !!

    When the call came through from an old business associate to join him in a new company he had formed in Taiwan, I just concurred. No drama, second thoughts, weighing the pros and cons. Just yes. Like an experienced feline of an indulgent nature I lowered my whiskers into to cream and licked the ends for good measure.

    So, fast forward one week and here I am esconsced comfortably in a hotel in Taichung, that from the outside with its pink lighting facade one might be tempted to assume was a house inhabited by fallen Angel's. A view over the street life outside, garish illuminated signs in Mandarin Chinese characters, 7 11 opposite to stock up on beer. What more could our intrepid explorer ask for?

    Actually, deep down there exists a serpentine hope that this rather extreme change of location might also get the creative juices going. Not that I aspire to be another Hemingway, but at least a kick to my mortal system, potentially bodes well to loosen up sap in narrow channels.
    Last edited by MANICHAEAN; 03-17-2019 at 07:00 AM.

  2. #2
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Lol, that´s Manichean! All the luck in your new job!
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Thanks Danik. No use just sitting back in a potentially Brexit Albion pretending I was content.

    Anyway, although one of my hobbies is cooking, there are only so many apple crumbles a man can make.

    Best wishes
    M.

  4. #4
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Duplicate post.

  5. #5
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    THE LAST HURRAH. CHAPTER 2.

    A week had pasted since arriving in Taiwan and with it the eight-hour jet lag from the initial kick off at Terminal 2, London Heathrow.
    Upon reflection, the journey had been quite exhausting. High winds & rain had delayed the first leg of the flight schedule to Bangkok, but a good dinner with a few glasses of Medoc in Business Class had done the trick and eventually he had faded away, oblivious of the celestial heavens outside, or the reality of mortal life below.

    Twelve hours later demanded a debarkation at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport for refuelling. That’s when the tiredness and general malaise of long-distance travel began to assert itself. A heaviness and slowness in the limbs, an imperceptible feeling of light clammy sweat on the skin, and a somewhat dramatic disorientating break from the domestic routine back in the U.K.
    But then, any landscape is a condition of the spirit, and transit lounges in foreign climes are no exception.

    Thankfully the final leg to Taipei was only a short two-hour flight. He refused the stewardess’s offer of yet another meal, and the body finally acknowledged its limitations in the form of a deep undisturbed sleep.

    Arrival at Taipei was at just before midnight local time; which again is disconcerting when the body clock is registering an obstinate alternative. Also, he had always found that arriving in a new country for the first time, there invariably asserts itself an almost primeval stimulus to try and stay alert in unfamiliar surroundings.

    After a very efficient immigration with fingerprints and photo taken, he was granted a 90-day visa. The next priority was foreign currency; there having been a dearth of $NT back in Heathrow. At the exchange, his experienced his first contact with the Far East’s penchant for ignoring any rules regards orderly queuing; as a huddle of elderly Taiwanese jostled and pushed at the counter for attention. He knew he lacked, at that moment, the reserves required to even attempt a transaction, and after obtaining his luggage, exited the terminal to the waiting car.

    Later, he could not remember much detail regards the early morning two hour drive south to Taichung; which in retrospect was to be appreciated, as his degree of perception was by then comfortably numbed into just existing.

    Eventually he checked into his designated hotel on the sixth floor at 2.45 am. The bed was huge, crisp and inviting, and outside the window garish Mandarin characters lit up on neon infused signboards, proclaimed that he had arrived.

    Across to the east, the dawn advanced with remorseless intent upon this small island state; whilst to the west, mainland China with its esoteric intentions lay, furtive and brooding.

    He slept deep that night comforted with anticipation of prospects for a new awakening. Fortune is obligingly always full of fresh variety.

  6. #6
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Why is the edit button coming up with a blank page?

    Very frustrating when trying to correct typos

  7. #7
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    Why is the edit button coming up with a blank page?

    Very frustrating when trying to correct typos
    For me too! Always the problems with edits! One of my favorite frustrations! Man,what can I say? I'm so pleased hearing about this. As Americans, who are mostly Eurocentric, we need to know more about the East. The style, the word choices, the shades of meanings, the exotic locals , you do it all so well. Maugham was a misogynist. You aren't, and your insight gives more depth to your characters and settings.

    Always a pleasure to read your stuff. I couldn't be more pleased you're out of town.

  8. #8
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Thanks Buddy for the encouragement.

    Best wishes
    M.

  9. #9
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Chapter 3.

    His American boss had arrived in Taiwan during the week, and having sufficiently recovered from jet lag, suggested they go out to the Taichung Feng Chia Night Market on Saturday night.

    There is always a kind of incongruity when Brits and Americans mix on a social basis, especially in a neutral foreign environment; and its difficult to define it precisely. Apart from Texans of course, that quite simply take the whole thing over on terms they are comfortable with. No: its more complicated than that. On the face of it; the language is the same, the looks similar, but the contrasts in nuances, to the experienced observer are quite subtle.

    But he was reassured from previous experience, that in his extensive travels he had invariable found that Americans were either of the type that had never travelled far outside their own country; except perhaps to Mexico or the Caribbean. Memories came back of some Detroit vacationer’s in Montego Bay wearing pith helmets; perhaps under the illusion that they were in darkest Africa. But then, there were those he thought of as Frontier Americans; adventurous, resilient, adaptable and damm good company.

    Anyway, lets return to this intrepid pair. The meet was outside MacDonalds at the busy intersection of Fengjia Road and Fuxing Road, a busy intersection, heaving with the chaos of nightly Asian masses out enjoying themselves. Food & bubble tea vendors, under the glare of neon signs interspersed with young groups shuffling their way in the crowds, impervious to the relinquishment of mobile phone usage or taking selfies. And pervading it all, the wafting of a heady mixture of Big Mac’s, stinky tofu, roast lechon and car fumes.

    The plan was to seek out, [previously Googled] local establishments; inclusive of: knife massage, foot massage, bar, tailor and a place to have dinner. Not all were successfully attained.

    If the French have a penchant for being dramatic, and the Italians for being great lovers, then the Taiwanese have an almost obsessive desire to eat. One does not have to cook at home. Everywhere, every 100 yards or nearer, exist food stalls, or mum & dad hole in the wall food establishments at cheap prices. The variety is enormous from: simmering dumpling soups, dim sum in straw baskets, noodles, baby roast pig, fried insects, chicken feet and stir fry dishes that stretch to a culinary infinity. So it was no surprise that they had difficulty, even in a jumping area like that, to find a place to eat.

    But the highlight of the evening were the massages. First the knife massage, which in fact is executed by what looks like two meat cleavers, [representing “ying” and “yang”], and wielded by an impressive, sober demeanour individual, reminiscent of a Shao Lin monk. One sits leaning forward in a special leather chair, legs tucked underneath, face in a padded hole; a bit like an emergency brace position on an aircraft. Repetitive chops with the cleavers are made up and down the back and spine. They both concurred the experience to be quite relaxing in a hypnotic kind of way.

    The Taiwan foot massage at another location was quite a different matter. The two sat side by side in armchairs, initially with their feet soaking in herbal hot water. The two lady masseurs judging from the strength of their hands, gave indications that previous employment positions had been as welders or effective interrogator’s. In a way it was amusing; endeavouring to hold a civilised conversation with each other, whilst wincing and squirming by the pain inflicted, as toes were nearly broken off, and deep intrusive gouging undertaken to the muscles of otherwise sensitive Western feet and legs.


    If he had wanted a break from a routine existence back in the UK, it had certainly been attained so far.

  10. #10
    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    After all these years, yours fooly is still trying to determine whether you are the NitLet's answer to Joseph Conrad or Lafcadio Hearn.

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Hi Aunty.

    Nice to hear from you. Thanks for opening up new horizons re the latter gentleman. Like myself, he had Irish blood on one side and was an itinerant soul.

    Regards style; reflect on Papa Hemingway:

    “From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality.”

    Worth going for?

    Best wishes
    M

  12. #12
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Chapter 4.

    A plaintive rendering of “Oh Danny Boy,” complete with softly applied cymbals and lute, and sung in Mandarin Chinese, put him at variance for a short moment with his noodles.

    Then from the teeming mass in the Xitun street outside; one figure stood motionless, holding the universe together. A slim young woman in a jade green dress, with high delicate cheekbones, suffused lowered eyes and the skin of carved ivory.

    For a moment in time he absorbed the curve of lips that could have rewritten the origins of creation; and he knew without seeing, that he would have been frightened if she chanced to glance in his direction, by what had gone into the making of her eyes.

    Upon reflection, he had ascertained that invariably, situations and circumstances had chosen him, and not the other way around. This may not have been immediately discernible; which in itself may have contained elements of a silent benediction. Perhaps eventually the fog of incomprehension would slip away on a light fresh breeze and the warmth of morning sunshine.

  13. #13
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    Why is the edit button coming up with a blank page?

    Very frustrating when trying to correct typos
    Something, don´t ask me what, has been repaired, so that it has become easier again to navigate Litnet pages. My thanks to whoever has taken care of that.

    But you can´t have all! Editing is another long time issue. Best thing is to edit longer post and fiction on Word and then post it.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

  14. #14
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Chapter 5.

    He at last, after a full month, had discovered a real bar in Taiwan. Up until then, the entire country seemed to be packed to bursting with eating joints ranging from mum & dad hole in wall noodle / dumpling establishments, to high end pseudo Italian, French & Japanese for those with non-indigenous taste buds.

    So, when he walked into the Bear Bar Bistro on the corner of Chaoma Road in the Xitun District of Taichung, he was once again in familiar territory. No longer restricted to a local beer, there it was an exorbitant indulgent display against a blue backlit altar wall of; Jamaican rum, Russian vodka, Scotch whiskey, American bourbon, English gin, French liqueurs & a range of questionably aged brandies. No spiritual gathering is complete without the requisite high priest / acolyte bar server suitably attired in a white shirt with black waistcoat, and equipped with todays must have accessory; a head phone speaker, (as if it requires instant communication with an outside entity to mix a gin and tonic!!!)

    Perhaps the rarity of having a foreigner as a customer kicked something into gear; as slim, chirruping young Asian ladies fussed over him with; smiling greetings, retrieved English small talk, menus and assistance with connecting to the Wi-Fi. It had been said that one does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the home shore. That done; it was now imperative, to be a unique, indispensable self in new surroundings.

    An hour later, suitably tranquilised on Makers Mark bourbon, and respite on a fresh baked pizza, he mused back on the week’s events. It had begun ominously, when reports had come through of, (for the first time in 20 years), two Chinese fighter jets had been reported deliberately crossed the Median Line of the Taiwan Strait, and making a ten-minute incursion that prompted a scramble of Taiwan fighter jets to intercept them. This apparently had been only the latest intimidation from the mainland towards Taiwan. Back in May, bombers and jets had flown around the island, underscoring Beijing’s ability to encircle Taiwan from the air in the case of hostilities.

    It was a slightly unnerving, almost surreal situation to exist in. Big Brother across the narrow Straits in the form of Chinese president Xi Jinping repeating his goal of reunifying Taiwan with the mainland. Like a family feud where there seemed to be a belief that more would be obtained by the threat of a sting, as opposed to a caress.

    And yet, in his short time here, this was the China he had imagined and not the China he had experienced. Modern, yes, with skyscrapers, an efficient infrastructure, clean, organised & safe. Yet, wander off from the main drag; which he was compellingly self-willed to do, and you found the small local temple, adjacent the centuries old tree garlanded with ribbons & petitions, where many could rekindle the inextinguishable passions of vanished ancestors. Further on, away from the heady waft of lit joss sticks; the bustle and chaos of the local fish / vegetable market, the life of a community lived in the streets, the insatiable desire and realisation of living where tomorrow’s joy is possible only if today’s makes way for it.

    He had on these excursions surrendered himself up to being nothing, in a positive belief that the intended path would somehow be lit by the experience of consummate passion.
    Last edited by MANICHAEAN; 04-06-2019 at 11:53 PM.

  15. #15
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Chapter 6.

    It had been a mixed bag week.

    Based on the conventual theory that danger causes either a reaction to; fight or flight, he had witnessed something akin this behaviour in his boss over the last few days.

    The background was that pressure had been remorselessly applied by the Client regards deadlines; and in his case it was beginning to erupt from a placid serpentine awakening, to the eruption of sudden & erratic emotions at seemingly unrelated moments.

    “Damm, how can I deal with all this,” to “Might as well pack up and walk away,” to the last counter punch of exasperation, “I need to delegate more of this to others.”

    As of yet he had not developed the art of initial containment, and of reverting to the time-honoured Brit practice of; both maintain a stiff upper lip, whilst being surreptitiously engaged in playing “silly buggers.”

    As our hero had thus now been bestowed delegated responsibility by his esteemed mentor, he proceeded to knuckle down and respond to all written deadlines from the Client in narratives composed from foundations poured long ago in a classical education, a sprinkling of Latin quotations, and he even inserted a bit of his own from time to time.

    To date, the Client, (mainly Mandarin speaking Chinese) had failed to respond to these responses. He assumed, whether wrongly or not, that they were copiously engaged in referring to their dictionaries in a befuddled & confused manner, rather than lose that very important “face” in asking “What the hell is this guy talking about?”

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