Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Last Friday night I was in a Taichung taxi*, and the driver & I were talking about the fatal accident that occurred at the Splendor hotel earlier that day (Link, if you are outside of Taiwan and have not heard about it).

The driver was doing what taxi drivers do best- filling me in on the real story behind events. He asked me did I know that none of the businesses in that building were ever real successful. I agreed that besides the hotel, all the other shops and restaurants seemed to have gone under pretty quickly. He said the reason is: that plot of land where the hotel is built is where the Japanese used to kill fǎnrén. I agreed that that seemed like a lot of bad mojo to accrue in one place, and possibly had something to do with the accident. (Not really, but why argue.)

The conversation was in Chinese, and I later called my wife to tell her (in English) this neat point of possibly hypothetically true history- The location of the Splendor hotel used to be an execution site for rebels. My wife asked me to repeat exactly what the taxi driver said, and I did, pointing out that fanren must be the fan like in 反叛.

To my dismay, my wife informed me that it was 99.9% impossible that anyone would say "rebel" that way, and that I most likely misheard the tone. What the driver said was that was where the Japanese killed fānrén (蕃人), which is a pretty rude way to say "aboriginals".

Which makes the story not so interesting to tell at all.

*On my way to holy church prayer study atonement ritual that most certainly did not involve Budweiser in any form whatsoever.


Robin said...

The taxi driver used the "n" word?

Karl said...

I can't really be sure, because I had never heard this term "蕃人" before then. Don't know how disparaging it is, and can't take the wife's word- she's notoriously picky about proper Chinese.