July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

Well, if you look at the date that this entry is posted, you will notice that I am just a few days behind.

Canada turned, what, 143 years old this week? Wow! Can hardly wait until I’m 143! Perhaps by then there will be a special day set aside for me, right? Not likely.

Since June 25, I have been quite busy, actually. I know that’s not really an excuse, but for me, it’s my life. I’ve had some classes changed, deleted, some extras added… It’s been keeping me on my toes, to say the least.

So, what did I do to celebrate my country’s birthday? Not a heck of a lot. I had classes as per normal. Remembering that most of my students only KNOW that I come from Canada, and that they really don’t know WHERE Canada is, I couldn’t really teach them too much about Canada’s birthday.

A couple of classes I did mention it though. In fact, I mentioned it in one class, and the teacher started to correct me. I guess she thought I was from the United States, because she told me that MY country’s birthday wasn’t until July 4!

For most of the citizens of this country, unless you specifically tell them you are from another country, every foreigner is assumed to be from the United States… how humiliating.

Nothing against the States. Many of my relatives on my mother’s side live in the United States. I just don’t like being referred to as an American. How many times when I was younger, the collective ‘we’ used to think that anyone who looked oriental in any way, must have been from China?

I’ve missed some of the holidays of my home country. Canada Day may not be the top of the list, but when I lived in Ottawa, Canada Day had a special meaning. There were activities all around the city. The public parks would have stalls selling all kinds of merchandise, mostly for tourists, but fun nonetheless. Food was abundant. Bars would be hopping. The downtown core around the Parliament Buildings would be blocked off to vehicle traffic. One of the few times of the year you could walk down the middle of Wellington Street, and not fear for your life!

The day would end around 10 or 11pm with a fantastic fireworks display. Even the tallest building in the world right now, Taipei 101, doesn’t put on a show that our nations capital puts on. I’ve never had the pleasure of watching the US fireworks displays on Independence Day, but as far as Canada is concerned, Canada Day in Ottawa was incredible.

Speaking of fireworks, I think that Taiwan, or Tainan (since this is where I live), is kind of fun during the year. There are several times of the year when you can get fireworks to light yourself.

Talk about fun! Dad mentioned in one of his blogs a few months back, that as a kid, he and his brothers would light dynamite on the farm when his parents were not around. I kind of understand what he enjoyed about it.

There is a little sidestreet, off Cheng-gong Road, where at certain times of the year, one can just drive down, park the scooter, and there are about a half dozen ‘homes’ selling various forms of fireworks. Everything from little ‘pucks’ that sort of sizzle and burn and look like a snake when finished, to the boomers!

I remember one year purchasing about 3,000nt worth of fireworks – about a C$100. Now, that may not sound like a lot, but the Taiwan New Dollar goes a long way sometimes. I got back to my friends with the largest bag of fireworks, I personally, have ever seen! I couldn’t wait to set these things off. I guess it goes back to the pyromaniac in me!!

The ‘piece de resistance’, was a huge column of a firework. My friends were a little leery about me setting this monster off on Cheng-gong Road. Easily, the thing must have been as tall as my legs, and about as big around as my neck! I braced it quite well with a few bricks I found lying around. Then, lit the fuse. Considering the size of this puppy, the fuse was a mere 5cm long! Talk about light and run! I didn’t know what this thing would do, what kind of noise it would make, or whether anyone would survive the fallout.

Like my father, I lit the thing, and ran like hell. I guess it was like watching Mythbusters, when they aren’t quite sure what an explosive will do. They light the fuse, and run as fast as their legs can go, behind a blast screen. Well, since there was no blast screen handy, the best I could do was run until I found shelter!

After a few seconds, the largest ka-boom I have heard up close occurred. All the car horns in the 100 block radius of this explosive went off at once. There was a blast of light, and a very nice light display. The thing lit up Cheng-gong Road as if it were noon.

Okay, so I exaggerate a little bit, but not by much. The ringing in my ears didn’t stop for about 1/2 hour after that. It was great. Dad, I understand!

After that, the other little putt-putt explosives just didn’t seem worthy. The thing about fireworks in Taiwan, is that they don’t last long – the display that is. Once the charge has lit and exploded, the display flashes, and is out faster than it took to run away from the thing in the first place. Kind of a let-down in a way. I’d say about once a month, somewhere in downtown Tainan, some temple is setting off fireworks for some reason or another. No one ever seems to know why, but the trails of fireworks all over the streets, is enough to stop or at least slow down traffic. People stop driving and stare at the display like deer looking into headlights.

Perhaps one of these days, I’ll get home again for New Years or Canada Day, and have a chance to watch some really great fireworks again. Or, and this may only be wishful thinking, we could get a special permit in September for our family reunion, and set off a great display ourselves… what do you think, Dad??


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