It never snows in Taipei, a city of gray, once called the ugliest city in the world. Everywhere there are commuters on scooters rushing somewhere in raincoats or waiting at an interminable red light, baking under the punishing sun. Air pollution is the curse of this urbanized basin, and suffering from humidity is the fate of the populace.
After 30 years of fast economic development, Taiwan has gotten rid of poverty and made progress in every aspect of society. But Taiwan is now in an ambiguous state of uncertainty, in which a certain level of comfort and fear co-exist. Growth has subsided and a sense of stagnation and confinement has become pervasive, geographically, politically, and culturally. A younger generation is stalled. Our options feel limited. When we gather in the karaoke after work at midnight, or devote ourselves to bicycling on a precious sunny day, we do so with a sense of resignation, concealing the collective anxiety, comforting an empty soul.
The generation of our parents successfully brought Taiwan to a new level, but our generation has nowhere to go. Taking the same steps, putting faith in the same routines, hasn’t resulted in the same gains. Economic growth has stopped, but the working day is extremely long. We have dedicated our youth to textbooks, but a redeeming future hasn’t arrived. Yet we shall not complain, because we know, and are constantly reminded, that we have everything our parents never had. So we have some fun, live peacefully, burn up all our youthful energy and get numb, and pray a nightmare of reversal never comes.
A few days a year, a little snow falls in some mountainous area, and we drive long hours, with hordes of others, to see it. Although the snowfall is pathetically slight, we cheerfully pull out our latest cameras to take some trophy pictures, and then return home, feeling content, for a moment.
Before Spring, 2012