Monday, August 26, 2013

Journal Entry: March 28, 2013: Restoration

An old friend has worked for nearly two years to restores his childhood home on a busy street in central Tainan. I toured the interior of the home on a previous trip, just after restoration began. The house has been unoccupied for nearly 40 years. We side-stepped around crumbling tiles and edged up narrow, dilapidated staircases connecting the four levels. Overall, it was a mess. But through the rubble, I caught glimpses of its former grandeur. Features such as high ceilings, original wooden beams, and the large central courtyard were hard to miss. Much has changed since my last tour. All of the details of craftsmanship seemed to pop out. From intricate retro modern window frames, a series of sliding front doors constructed of Taiwanese grown juniper, trim on the tile work and, around entry ways, windows, and mirrors. Restoring the building to its original form has become one of my friend’s primary ambitions. Replicating the detail and the craftsmanship has proven to be painstaking and slow and process.
During my travels, I observe that many small cities in Taiwan often showcase this type of preservation. When the Taiwanese encounter old features from a bygone era, they become heartsick and transported back to that earlier era. I gaze upon a painting, the shop owner explained, “This is of life in Tainan as it existed roughly 120 years ago.” She continued, “It was a time when everything was simpler, and people were good.” The word good she used for good was guai (first tone). If the words get drawn out a bit, it’s an example of onomatopoeia. This restorative energy has caught on here in Tainan. Here are some pictures of the home, as we tour it by night.

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