Tuesday, September 08, 2009

‘Like a rave without sound’

To “celebrate” the unexpected resignation of (incompetent) premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) yesterday, some coworkers and I at the paper decided to go out for drinks after work. Once the paper had been sent to the printer down south, we tempted fate and took the trouble-plagued Muza-Neihu (a.k.a. Zahu, or “cheating,” as at mahjong) MRT Line and got off at Nanjing E Road, ending up, inevitably, at the expats’ favorite watering hole, the Brass Monkey. Far from my favorite place in Taipei, the place nevertheless has decent drinks and, as an extra, two-for-one pizza on Monday nights.

The place was unusually packed for a weekday, and it took me about as long as it takes to say “Guinness” to realize that the patrons weren’t the usual bunch. The place was filled with foreigners alright, but on that night, the foreigners consisted of, oh, maybe 60 or 70 athletes from the Deaflympics, which are currently being held in Taipei.

Though packed, the bar was, quite understandably, eerily silent, and one could actually hear the music. The waitress who served us seemed surprised when she realized we could actually hear and speak. Later in the evening, a walk to the washroom provided a fascinating scene, that of a bar filled with deaf and mute individuals all communicating in sign language, like some choreographed dance or, as a friend put it, like a rave without sound. Some people were obviously inebriated, others were engaged in what were obviously animated discussions, but in the half-light it was like a Kabuki dance, slightly out of place in what is usually a rowdy bar, but none the less fascinating.

As 1am approached, the waitress walked around the bar holding a sign that said, in both Chinese and English: “Sorry, we are closing at 1am.”

Leaving the place, I wondered if, when mute individuals become intoxicated, their sign language becomes slurred and confused, as does the tongue and mouth for those of us fortunate enough to be able to communicate “normally.” Does the hand become sloppy, too? Probably.

Once again, this wonderful country was providing me with rich, new experiences.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

I once had a Singaporean friend who knew some sign language. He told me that different countries have their own systems. So Chinese signers probably can't communicate with Americans. Even within some countries there are different systems.

It is the type of thing that you never think about.