absentfather

Letters for my kids to read in the future, from around the world now

Fast food, slow trip

Monday 16th January 2012

Dear George,

So far I have only managed to speak to you/see you once since I left 4 days ago. This is one of the most annoying things about being the other side of the world for work – whenever I’m awake, you guys are asleep and visa-versa. Just enough time difference to miss each other at night and in the morning and then when I do get through there are other annoyances: a bad connection, tiredness, one or the other is in a rush, etc, but I think it is mostly just because you can’t call whenever you want then it doesn’t seem like a choice. I might not have anything to say or even be in the mood to chat, so it is sometimes hard to maintain enthusiasm and that sometimes comes across badly. Hard to explain, but let’s just say it is one of the most annoying things about being the other side of the world for work.

I’m currently in a Mos Burger restaurant near Songjiang Nanjing station in central Taipei having lunch before an appointment with an agent across the road. Mos Burger is a Japanese chain that really should be a global phenomenon. Not only does their food taste amazing, but they do everything well – service, choice, portion size. You can have a burger bun made of rice instead of bread, shredded beef instead of a burger and they serve everything to your table in cute little baskets. They even have baskets under the chairs for you to store your stuff whilst you eat. I often feel self conscious if I go into a restaurant and eat alone, but somehow it is okay in a fast food joint. The more you eat in different parts of the world the more you realise that we are the odd ones out and have it wrong. In Asia it is typically cheaper to eat out than cook for yourself; everyone chooses different things and then shares (even in a Mos burger) and time is always made for mealtimes – no eating at your desk or eating alone. It is very much a social event every day.

It’s been raining a lot here, which is a shame as I wanted to take my camera out for some street shots this morning, but the light was bad and I couldn’t face getting wet. As soon as I stepped out without my camera I started to see things I wanted to shoot- groups of school kids messing about on the MTR, flocks of birds, queues of people waiting for street food in clouds of the vendors steam. Trouble is with these kind of photos is that you take them, admire them and then never look at them again. Not good enough to turn into posters, not the kind of photo you frame for your house. Still, I think it is a good habit to make you look at the world around you in more detail. If you are looking for a photo you look a little harder. There are many hobbies I had when I was younger that I no longer make time for. Photography, experimental cooking, writing, but most of all I miss drawing and painting. I don’t think is is the physical task of drawing or even seeing the results of what I’d drawn that I miss, but the feeling of inspiration that makes one draw in the first place. I don’t take time to admire others’ work or survey the world around me for subject matter like I used to. I was never great at it anyway, but I do miss having a creative outlet. Up to me to sort it out, and not exactly a big problem in life!

My hotel view

Interesting fact of the day is about emoticons. You’ll know all about these growing up with technology all around you. Because many Asian people smile with their eyes rather than their mouths they have different sets of emoticons to represent this. For us a smiley face is 🙂 but for them a smiley face is ^_^

Hope you are having a nice day. You are probably comatosed next to your mother in bed, occasionally slapping her in the face, as is your current habit.

Love

Dad

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