Taiwan 2: Chunghsuan Lan (藍仲軒)& Each Modern

Traveling is a unique way to reconnect with old friends, and it was that in this way we met an old friend of ours: Chunghsuan Lan (藍仲軒) original from Taiwan, Lan has spent time overseas, and during his residency at 331ArtsChiyoda (Japan) we had the opportunity to know him and his provocative art. But as Lan’s devotion to the arts it’s his life, love, and ultimate ambition; he invited us to visit Each Modern Gallery and to meet his colleagues, Sean and Murphy.

And also gave us a personal tour of the gallery allowing me and my camera to rejoice in the beauty of art. 

But certainly the best part of this amazing meeting was to catch up with Lan

Taiwan 2: Chunghsuan Lan (藍仲軒)& Each Modern

Japanese business etiquette II: Business cards

Although, Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Our daily business interaction hasn’t changed much in the last decades.

What do you mean? You may ask

I mean that our ways to interact, to connect, to build relationships in business are still traditional. We still don’t rely on social media as most people, in other countries, do because we don’t trust it much yet.

We still go old school when it comes to “network” We go through the whole process. We make phone calls, send faxes (yes, you read that correctly) we make appointments, wait for appointment confirmation. Then on the day of the appointment, we dress formally, make our way to the meeting place, while being sure to arrive at least ten minutes before the agreed time, wait in the lobby room and greet our counterparts one these arrive.

And once we get inside the room where our meeting will be carried out then we finally exchange business cards.

There are also few steps for this simple and yet crucial moment.

1.- Hold your card with both hands. Do not simple handle the card. But offer it.

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2.- Then respectfully receive the business cards you are being offered.

3.- Once you get back to your seat, lay all the business cards you have received and read them.

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As you can see, business cards, physical business cards are a must, because business cards tell the person you are meeting that you are trustworthy. And if you translate your card even into simple Japanese, people would be grateful. And you’ll be showing your commitment and your willingness to go the extra mile, which will speak highly of you. Moreover, as Japanese people tend to be shy, your business card will be giving them “a hand” because they will make small talk based on the information you provide on them (your business cards).

In other words, business cards are still ,in this time of internet and social media, the best way to introduce yourself in Japan. And secure the beginning of a good business relationship with your possible clients and business partners.

The “successful” guy: The poor girl

 

The guy sitting at the cafe nervously looked at his phone. 

Someone was running late. And we were all witnessing his impatience and the cruel ticking of the clock that wouldn’t stop for him, or anybody.

A few minutes later, she came almost running through the door, ordered a cup of coffee, and sat at the table mumbling apologies that he wouldn’t listen because he had news to share. 

“I have finished my book” he announced with a big smile.

“Congratulations…” She said happily “And……” she tried to continue. 

“You have no idea how great my book is” he said with an intoxicatingly happy face that started to resemble a hysterical mask. 

“Yes, I see. But…” She tried again 

“You know? Most of my friends are writers, journalists, poets, and editors. And they all say my book has potential” His happy face has mutated into the joker’s face. He had a happy grin on, but there was something scary and obscure in its expression. 

“Great..” She managed to say

“I mean my friends just love it. They love my book. I am sure that in less than three months I will be an international success, and you will be the luckiest girl in the whole world for being with such as a great guy as myself” He said with a laugh that could freeze your blood.

 

She only nodded and started sipping her coffee knowing she was not invited to speak but to reassure him silently.

 

We all try our hardest not to look at them, but we couldn’t help to feel sorry for the poor girl sitting with the “successful” guy.

 

 

The annoying meatballs

Italy, 2002

I am glad I let my friend Francesca set me up with this guy, I mean the guy is gorgeous, he looks like a model from one of those expensive magazines. He is just sitting in front of me. And I think I just forgot my name.

Did I take a shower before coming here? Yes, I think I did. God..! Just looking at him makes my head spin.

I can do this. Yes, I will seduce him with my charismatic personality. I am giving him my best smile when I hear an annoying pitchy voice.

“Stop fooling yourself, honey” the annoying pitchy voice is saying.

When I look down at my plate, I realize, to my horror, that a small round meatball has just spoken to me.

I need to lay down. I think I’m having a breakdown.

“You are not having a breakdown” repeats another meatball.

 “Elizabeth….are you ok?” asks my gorgeous date.

I reply the best I can, and I start rolling the spaghetti onto my fork.

“You know?….I wasn’t so sure about this date, but I am glad I agreed to it” he says with a killing smile, I freeze but I try to reply with coherence.

And the spaghetti takes the opportunity to jump back into the plate.

“It is cold,” it (the spaghetti) says when I was about to tell it off. But as I am too dazzled by my date, I decide not to pay much attention to the cheeky fugitive spaghetti.

I’ll get it later, though.

He (my date) reaches for my hand, lifting it to his lips, and my heart skips a beat.

I think I am in love.

“Elizabeth….” He says my name

“Yes…” I reply making plans for our wedding already.

“I hope you don’t mind….” he says

“Yes..” I reply again encouragingly

“I hope you don’t mind….but I forgot my wallet..” He says sheepishly.

Needless to say that I heard laughter coming not only from my plate but from all over the restaurant.

“Told you, honey,” says the small round meatball laughing at me.

I take my fork, and I stab it (the meatball) so hard that I almost brake the plate.

“Ahhh…..” the meatball screams.

And I eat it in one mouthful.

That’ll show them. I might be having a rubbish date, but the food won’t be showing me up.

Without internet: Could you work?

 

“I’m telling you when I started my career, we didn’t have internet, we didn’t even work with computers” was saying, my middle-aged colleague.

 

I stared at my colleague while holding my fork halfway to my mouth.
My colleague’s words shocked me because, although, I interact with technology every day, as most of you, it is shocking to be reminded that it was not always the case.

 

My colleagues started talking about telephones, faxes, and notebooks and pens.

“Can you imagine? I even had to go to a seminar to learn how to send e-mails?” My colleague was saying in a low voice as if making me a confidence.

 

My colleague’s words resonate with me because in the back of my head, I still remembering the world without internet, perhaps my generation is the last generation to have grown up without it (internet). Yes, I am that old 🙂

I still remember the boring Sunday afternoons and the horrible silence in the streets when the children went back home for dinner.

 

In other words, I remember daily life without internet. But business without internet, I have never experienced..!! and I think that is a huge (very big) challenge.

 

Just think about it, you are only giving a notebook and pen. And you can use the office’s phone and fax machine as long as the other thirty people, who work with you, are not using it 😫

I don’t know you, but I couldn’t work properly. Or maybe I am just spoiled.

 

Working without computer or internet, I have never done. And that’s why I take my hat off (I want to show my respect) to those colleagues who have achieved so much without technology. Thank you, and I hope one day, I can be as good as you are.

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What matters

Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said that “what matters in life is not what happened to you but what we remember and how we remember it, in order to retell it.”

We all have happy memories that bring smiles to our faces, those memories like clear water that the sun kisses while saying goodbye in warm afternoons. But as life is a mix of emotions, our memories are inseparable from feelings, both joyful and painful.

I think that our lives are like collages, that blend happiness with hardships. A little bit of craziness, lust, curiosity, passion, a few grudges, some forgiveness and love. But not all collages are the same, and it’s their unique mixtures are what makes us, us.

I wouldn’t ever wish pain or hardship on anybody, even to people who don’t know nor like me, but if there’s something I’ve learnt, it is that even the most painful moments have a purpose. They make us appreciate the good times, help us improve as individuals, and, as much as we might hate to suffer, those memories and experiences can be put to good use. We can transform them into something good. Even if something devastating, a life changing event has happened to us, we can still have the power to turn things around.

We may feel those agonising memories as a burden, and that’s ok. But we can still turn them into something good. Sometimes, we can even feel those memories dragging us to the edge, but we can still turn that around. We can feel they hunt us, and yet we can still turn them around.

It’s not easy. It requires hard work. We have to try hard, sometimes even harder, but if we are willing to see at least a little bit of hope every morning, we will be able to get through the day. Was this what Gabriel García Márquez meant? That it doesn’t matter what happened to you but what you do with what happened what really matters?

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Japanese theater: Noh and Kyogen

The origins of Noh theater can be traced back to the 8th century,  when sangaku, a form of entertainment that included music and performances was brought from China.

But as everything that arrives in Japan “sangaku” would go under a transformation, becoming Noh, one of the most emblematic cultural expressions that would ever be born. Noh is intense. It penetrates the air with its flute, drums, and songs. It will transport you to a mythical Japan, where demons and men fight the eternal battle between good and evil. But above all,  Noh will bring back the spirits of forgotten ancestors that still hovering the island.

Noh is a gust of air that becomes a tornado. And that’s where Kyogen, its loyal companion comes in handy. Without the fresh air kyogen blows into the room, I couldn’t recover from all the emotions Noh brings to life. Kyogen is lighthearted, it presents human nature, as it is, a maze of countless contradictions, which put in scene are rather amusing to watch. And perhaps their contrast is a reflection of our complicated and unpredictable lives.

  • A little video from the Noh National theater garden.

A little bit of Yokohama: Summer 2017 

Yokohama, the biggest city in Kanagawa-ken has different faces. Traditional and modern. Old and new collectively creat and craft the identity of this lovely city.


I was just taking as many pictures as I could possibly take in the incandescent heat of the summer, without perishing from a heatstroke. When I found this:  A gigantic snoopy that made it all better.

I also found jugglers entertaining children and adults with children’s souls 💕 It was nice.

English and Español

 

If someone would come and ask me if I can write in English and Spanish in the same way, I would honestly say that I can’t, because they are utterly two different languages.

Spanish is a Roman language, and English, although, carries words from Latin and French, is part of the Germanic roots language family. However, their alphabets are similar, (not the same) the phonetics are different.

Their syntax and expressions are not always transferable from one language to another. Therefore, when I express myself in Spanish, I have a license to communicate things that wouldn’t make sense in English. Spanish has a wide range of emotions, feelings, and sensations that would be considered “too much” in the English language. So I need to tune it down when I want to express myself coherently in English.

English, on the other hand, is straightforward without being disrespectful, it’s logical, and its primary purpose is to communicate the message effectively.

In my humble experience with English, I would say that its logic forces me to leave my emotions at bay, and to say what I need to say. Nothing more, nothing less.

Both languages are beautiful, sometimes, I find myself laughing at jokes from Latinamerica and when I try explaining them in English, I can feel how the humorous expectations of my audience become disappointment.

Or when I find something incredibly exciting in English and share it with my Spanish speaking friends, and it doesn’t come across, in the same way.

Or it can be the case that I am not talented enough to make sense of both in the same way. One must be honest with its limitations.

Languages: the subconscious and obsession

I am lucky enough to love languages. I am sure some might think that have an unhealthy obsession with them, and, maybe, they are not wrong.

I mean I sometimes feel like a hunter, a linguistic hunter, who is never satisfied with its prizes.

I always must get more.

One of my favorite ways to learn more about languages is reading. I love reading, I could read until the end of life. And beyond. But the thing is that every time, I come across an unknown word, I need to know what it needs.

I mean I must know, as if discovering its essence would, somehow, make me an accomplice of its adventures and playfulness.

Why do I go through so much trouble? Some may ask. And to be baldy honest, I don’t know. I seriously don’t know.

I think deep down, where the subconscious lives, I have the need to connect with people, to understand them, to comprehend their behavior and to find out what moves them. Because if I can understand people around me, then I might be able to understand myself. Maybe.