Plum Rained Out

A little over a week ago marked the start of what they call the “Plum Rain Season” here in Taiwan, or as it’s known in most other places just “the rainy season”. This is a little climatological phenomena we’re spared in Canada wherein it rains, and rains, and rains some more for about 3-4 weeks almost continuously. Imagine looking outside and seeing the hardest rain you have ever seen, a good torrential downpour, and imagine it doing that for hours at a time, every day, and you will know what it’s like to be in the Plum Rain Season.

I’ve actually be through it before when I was in Japan, of course that was a little over 7 years ago now and I’d forgotten what a lovely experience it is. Of course, living in Taipei where there are a large number of sheltered walkways it’s not too bad, the city is actually built for this since it’s a normal part of life here. I carry my folding umbrella with me and it does the job for rushing between sheltered walkways, dashing to buses and getting back to my home.

Today, however, I went out to my weekly assignment in DanShui, literally the end of the line for the local transit system. I love it out there, and it’s nice to get out of the city, but what’s not so nice is when my 15 minute walk to the office I teach at turned out to be during a particularly hard bout of rain. Needless to say my poor little folding umbrella turned out to be nigh useless as water came at me from all directions, and by the time I got to the office the term “soaked to the skin” just didn’t do me justice.

But, as they say in entertainment, the show must go on! So, after putting my shoes and socks out to dry and slipping on some borrowed flip-flops I proceeded to teach my two and half hours of class with a smile.

Speaking of which, I must tell a story.

Today in class we were practicing describing foods, and when it came to local foods it turns out a lot of the local special foods eaten on Holidays use peanuts as a sweet element. No problem, but as one of the students was explaining the food to me the first time he kept dropping the “t” sound in Peanuts, which makes it into ‘Peanus”. And, I was trying to figure out why he was telling me this dish used “chopped penis”, not entirely far-fetched given the Chinese tendency to waste no part of an animal. When I realized he meant “peanuts” I corrected his pronunciation and went on with the class, but slowly realized that almost the whole class was pronouncing it “Peanus”.

At this point, I had to stop the class and explain to them very directly what happens when you drop the “t” from Peanuts, and what the word “penis” meant. Actually, when I wrote it on the board, being the bunch of biologists they are, they knew that English word so I didn’t have to define it. I told them in no uncertain terms they need to pronounce the “t” sound, and practiced it with them.

That said, I have no doubts it’s not the last of “chopped penis” that I hear of. Shades of Lorenna Bobbit.


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