11 February 2004

It’s a beautiful day.

I stick my head out the kitchen window, look down into the alley, over the roofs of old houses in the adjoining block. The alley, just wide enough for two scooter drivers to pass each other, is filled with the orange glow of the late afternoon sun.

The apartment buildings are grey, but the paint peeling of burglar bars here and there gives the neighbourhood an optimistic colour. The potted plants in the windowsills bear witness of faith in a good life, even if things didn’t always work out as the residents had hoped years ago.

It’s not cold, but something in the air predicts it will be a cool evening. A light breeze starts picking up. An old war veteran emerges to collect his laundry from the balcony.

A perfect day it is not – what day is? – but it’s a nice day. It is Wednesday, 11 February 2004 – a winter’s day in Taiwan.