Lunch with another ex Xangan

I had lunch with Gary and his friend Will when they were visiting Toronto this past week.  Gary used to blog on Xanga (CurryPuffy).  I don’t remember exactly when I subscribed to him on Xanga – likely late 2000s.  His blogs were usually a lot of travel and food posts.  He would usually start each paragraph with a small Snoopy GIF.   I always had the impression he was a classy, soft spoken kinda guy.  He was always helpful and polite when I emailed him looking for travel tips.

We met at the lobby of the hotel where he was staying.  He still looks the same as his Xanga profile pic from years ago.  We walked to a nearby restaurant.  I usually worry about what to talk about or if I talk too much or too little.  Chatting with both of them was easy even if I did blabber on a bit too much.  We chatted about the people we knew on Xanga, where they visited, who picks the places to eat (for this trip – Will picked the restaurants), what’s going on in our lives and traveling in general.  Both of them were very easy to talk to. It’s interesting when you “know” someone but haven’t met them in person.  After lunch we walked back to their hotel and got some pics of each other.  I hope to see them again.  Both Gary and Will are really nice gentlemen.

 

Here’s what I ate.

The lunch was pretty good.  The restaurant (Luma) was offering a fixed priced lunch menu as part of Summerlicious.

Strawberry feta salad (romaine, toasted almonds and champagne vinaigrette)IMG_5861

Peameal Bacon BLT (vine-ripened tomatoes, basil aïoli, arugula, kettle chips).  The bacon was nice and I was so stuffed I couldn’t finish all the chips.

IMG_5863

Coconut cream + pineapple tart – this was very nice.  IMG_5864

 

Smiles

I was sitting at a bench near the entrance of the library while waiting for a colleague. Standing near me was a well dressed and good looking Asian boy (14 or 15?) with a “Samurai pony tail”.  He looked stylish and poised.  His black rim glasses added a touch of maturity.  He had an iced coffee in his hand and and was looking at his phone.  I was a bit early so I got my notebook out to make some notes for my meeting.

When I looked up again, I saw the boy looking towards the front door with a big smile on his face.  I looked over and there was another Asian boy who looked like a member of a Korean boy band.   They both had the biggest smiles as they walked towards each other.  It was quite cute to watch.  The  first boy gave the second one the ice coffee drink.  The second boy looked surprised and smiled even more.  There was just a hint of a blush and also a very discreet nod of the head from the second boy.

It was neat to see what looked like a genuine, open friendship.  But it also reminded me that I didn’t have that when I was their age.

Dear Kelvin

Dear Kelvin,

You’ve been on my mind lately.  Thanks for getting me through that writing course.  You helped me when I was stuck several times trying to figure out what to write.  I’m sure you heard me calling  your name as I wondered what I got myself into.  Although this was the first course I’ve taken, you reminded me through others to just have fun and to learn.  Instead of worrying that everyone else was better, I appreciated their gifts and talent.

You left footprints here and there in this wired world.  I’ve found fragments of your old blog and some stuff here and there.  I still feel your presence every so often especially when I get the urge to listen to Madonna ,  when I think about the Little Red Dot, and sometimes when I’m writing.

My reading at the open mic went well last night even though I was nervous.  I even got compliments from 2 strangers. Thanks for encouraging me all week to do this.

Until next time,

Matt

Meeting with Andrew in Taipei

While I was in Taiwan, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Andrew. He’s a fellow ex Xangan whom I’ve gotten to know better the past couple of years. He’s already written a detailed summary about our meet up on the same day (Oct. 18th).  I’ll try not to repeat what he wrote.

Prior to our meeting, Andrew told me which exit to meet as the MRT stations have many exits.  He also said he will let me know what he is wearing that day.  Perhaps he was worried that I would confuse him with someone else and drag some poor Taiwanese guy for lunch.  I could see myself doing that.  The odd thing is that there was another person that had similar coloured clothes and he was looking at me when he came out of the exit.

We met outside one of Ximen MRT station exit and went to a restaurant on Tao Yuan street that specializes in beef noodles. A friend (another ex Xangan) has been going there for 30 yrs and strongly recommended it. The restaurant doesn’t have a name. My friend cautioned me that there is another beef noodle restaurant with a name across the street but that’s not the restaurant I should go to.    We found the restaurant and didn’t have to wait long before we ended up at a table for 2.  The person in front of us had to share a table so I was glad we didn’t.

After we ordered I think I told him his voice was a lot deeper than I thought. He has a gentle, soft voice that I’m sure some guys (and ladies) will find seductive. The conversation was easy but it was also felt a bit odd. On one hand, the person sitting across the table is someone you’ve met for the first time and yet we were talking as if we’ve known each other very well …. which we do. We did the usual “so we finally meet” stuff and started to chat. After lunch (btw – the beef noodle was very good – lots of flavor and very tender. It’s 15 Tao Yuan Street, a 2 story non descriptive place – nearest exit is #4 Ximen Station.)

After lunch, we walked to a very large Starbucks at the Ximen pedestrian area for coffee.  We chatted about my work, his school, I wanted to know if he was eating well, how he was doing in Taiwan so far, we talked about what’s been going on in our lives and so on. It felt good to connect at a different level and not just through blogs and email. We probably could have talked all day. It didn’t feel like 2 1/2 hours had passed.

Oh yeah, we also talked about other Xangans that he has met. Aside from a brief chance encounter with Sheldon, I’ve never met them (uhm – you). He was very complimentary about each of them … yes, even you Nick. And it’s nice that we have the same circle of online friends. When I started blogging, it was just an online journal. I had no idea it would be such a positive thing in my life.

I have a lot of respect and admiration for what Andrew is doing. It’s not easy going to another country to study. It took a fair bit of sacrifice and I’m happy for him.I know at the end of his studies, he’ll learned a lot more than just Mandarin.  Hopefully we will meet again many times.

Fragile Bonds of Friendship

I found out the other day that my god father passed away in 2012.  No one told my family.  He was one of my dad’s closest friend when they were young.  He gave me my first camera (along with a few red pouches).  My brother was just a wee bit envious because his godfather never gave him anything.  So my brother made up a picket sign demanding a new godfather.  Over time with illnesses hounding both my dad and my godfather, they just drifted apart.  Neither of them used email or regular mail.  Even the phone calls became scarcer as my godfather’s hearing became impaired. 

Then I thought about my online friends that I’ve developed on Xanga.  If something happened to me, none of you would find out about it.  None of you would know who to call if my blog becomes inactive for a long period of time.  The opposite would probably be true too.  Then I wondered, why it was easier for me to find acceptance here.  Well – it’s easy to hide my faults when I am very careful how I present myself here.  You just see my good side.  When I talk about my faults, I usually minimize or trivialize them.  Would you accept me if you got to know me in real life?  The optimistic part of me remains hopeful.  But the fact is, my circle of friends really are really online.  If I’m not online, then it’s harder to maintain that thin, ephemeral thread of relationship here.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this.  I keep thinking a lot of you have an extensive network of close friends to lean on.  But I know that isn’t necessarily true for everyone.  Maybe there are more changes I need in my life.