Lost in transit, not translation

I ordered Indigenous Writers of Taiwan in November last year from Blackwell’s UK. Nothing arrived for three months, so I wrote to them and asked for a refund. Blackwells’ was surprisingly good about it. They declared the book Lost In Transit, and credited money to me.

Then my book arrived. Cue feeling like a goose.

Image credit:

I wrote to them again to tell them and PayPal’d them the proper amount to buy the whole guilt-free, if red-faced, reading experience.

This book is the first ever anthology of books written by Indigenous Taiwanese writers translated into English. Looking forward to reading about village life/warrior life as it was in Taiwan, and some general opinions from fellow Taiwanese people.

Some facts:

•According to archaeologists, humans have lived on Taiwan for 15000 years.

• Indigenous Taiwanese folk are divided into two broad groups: plains people and mountain people, the former whom were just about entirely assimilated by Han Chinese (sad)! Once upon a time these two groups were made up of 14 tribes.

• All tribes kept pigs and chickens, however eating chicken used to be seen as a social taboo (I have pet chickens, and think they would totally get behind this).

• The tribes were/are very diverse. The language spoken by one tribe was not necessarily understood by another ie not mutually intelligible.

• There are currently concerted efforts to keep these languages alive.

• Japan occupied Taiwan between 1895 and 1945, and according to the introduction, many Indigenous Elders still identify with the Japanese.


I wrote in an earlier blog post that my family thinks Great-Great-Grandma was an Indigenous lady. It turns out this notion is not a full consensus as some family members disagree, they think she emigrated.

The historical fact of women having restricted travel is still there however.

I don’t suppose we will ever be entirely sure, but Dad also found a family tree written by a cousin, and Great-Great-Grandma’s name was on it, and translates to [Surname] Yellow Sweet. That was nice.

In conclusion: the patience muscle is an excellent one to exercise. This was a timely reminder because it turns out there’s one more week until online classes start.

Anyone waiting for something to happen?


26 thoughts on “Lost in transit, not translation

  1. Now THIS is a book I should read. I majored in Chinese in university and so everything I learned about China and Taiwan is more or less from a Mainland (Communist and Kuomintang) perspective. Learning about the indigenous culture of Taiwan is something I should do . . . especially since I am trying to get a job there (hopefully sooner than later).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr B says:

      I’m glad you commented here because it has led me to your blog. I was hoping to find an “About” page to put some context into the first two posts I read. Your exercise and weight loss posts look interesting as I’m doing something similar since Christmas. Buddhist too, maybe heterodox but my Nepalese wife is full orthodox ….. if such a thing exists! I’ll read some of your posts shortly and have followed you too.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Wow thanks a lot! I hope you find my drivel interesting. I started following your page, too. From a quick look, it seems like you are into Theravada Buddhism. I’m more for Mahayana. That being said, I like all forms of Buddhism, although I might not be too acquainted with many of them. After spending almost 18 months in Thailand, though, I come to respect Theravada a lot more and eager to learn of the “School of the Elders”. The Dhammapada is still my favorite text. I am hoping for many more discussions to come.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Dr B says:

        Thank you 🙏 Dhamapadda is good for me too and I love a particular translation of the first verse as “All states of being are determined by mind, it is mind that leads the way” hence the title of my new blog. My old blog was Buddha Walks Into A Wine Bar, I had 1500 followers but got fed up of it, made it “private” and started again a month ago. And, I would really like an About page on your blog …. Who Are You?

        Liked by 2 people

      • Dr B says:

        I really think it will help your blog and certainly will help me! Context is everything….. From my own page which is a bit long, you will see I’m male, married to a Nepali (for 50 years), have visited Nepal lots of times and become integrated into my Nepalese family who are all Buddhist, of the Newar ethnic group, making their beliefs a strange mix of Theravada and Vajrayana Buddhists. But…. Kathmandu is full of Tibetans so Mahayana is everywhere! Follow that 🤣!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Dr B says:

        I’ve replied here because your About page isn’t open to comments? Thank you so much for this, I want to assure you was that my request to you was purely about context. Context helps me to put into context your Buddhist knowledge, your immersion in different traditions, and your martial arts quest. Also being born into a Hindu family is helpful too, massively. But ……. sorry there’s always a but! Firstly I realise and accept that on my new blog that my about page is not good. I posted it as I launched my new blog and frankly wrote too much about my Buddhist journey. I am going to replace it with my About page from my previous blog. So, what’s your job or profession, where do you live now, etc etc. Seriously I am genuinely interested in your perspective but I need to put it all into context. I am 75 years old, a psychologist, married to a Nepali Buddhist for 50 years, how do I connect to you with your superior knowledge but my superior life experience?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I just found a way to put a comments section on that page, so you can go and write whatever you’d like :).

        I don’t care too much about myself as much as I want to write my ideas on my own journey to self-development. As to where I live and where I work, again I must keep it a secret since I do want to keep my job (as much as it bores me) and I want to prevent anymore drama . . .which people these days like to start.

        At the moment, I’m a white-collared indentured servant who works for a global corporation (that is open almost 24 hours a day). I live and work in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. I almost got married to a woman from China, but I am single. At this point I am seriously considering the monk life, but it is something I need to really think about. At one point in time I called myself Captain Idiotic on this blog, now I don’t refer myself to that name. I can’t even think of a new one to replace that name, so I am cool with Captain Idiotic.

        I have to keep myself humble. I have a problem with people who study or meditate and then think they are better than Buddha or Jesus as everyone knows the Beatles are better than Jesus.

        I don’t what else you need to know about me, but you can always post up a question on whatever I write about and I can answer to best of my ability.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dr B says:

        Hello Captain! Thank you again for taking the time to write back in such detail. I must apologise if I seemed too inquisitive and even intrusive. I have been quite absorbed with your writing and felt like I could only fully understand with more context, but I fully respect your privacy. I have come across indenturedness in Nepal, but I won’t ask more questions. 🙃
        Our journeys across and into Buddhism have been quite different, mine has been a stumbling to follow my wife and her family with their traditions and customs in Nepal rather than an exploration of differing approaches to Buddhism. I practice meditation daily, I read the Dhammapada, I try hard to follow the 8 fold path, and I read and look deeply into no-self, impermanence etc etc. Thich Nhat Hanh is my favourite author.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I liked reading some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s works, but I don’t read too much nowadays. I like to focus more on the canon than anything, though. Which is why I love the Dhammapada. My job’s hours are long and sometimes volatile, which makes meditation hard for me. One of these days, I would like to get back into it. Hopefully sooner than later. That is why I am glad that you are meditating daily.

        I would love to read more on Nepalese culture. I know it shares a lot of commonalities with India, but I am very interested in the differences.

        Thank you for respecting my privacy. It is difficult to speak one’s truth in this day and age. Again, if you have any questions whenever you read my posts do feel free to ask.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dr B says:

    That sounds like a very good book to have if you live in or are from that area/region. With my wife being from Nepal and our having lots of family there I have read similar books on the old and ancient history of Nepal. I guess there must be similar books in England and the U.K. because the Scots and Welsh have an “indigenous” history and culture which England has lost except if you live in Cornwall or Cumbria. I’m surprised you waited so patiently for the book, not available in digital form I suppose?

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s funny that you mention it Dr B, I don’t think it occurred to me. I just did a quick search and there doesn’t seem to be a digital version.

      It’s surprising that England has lost some of the history except for in pockets… it’d make those pockets places of special interest for students of history.

      Ancient Nepal must be so fascinating. All I do know is that the historical Buddha’s origins is somewhat contested by different modern nations where he is loved!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dr B says:

        The real historical fact about Buddha is that he was born in Lumbini which is in Nepal. We have visited the site, particularly the ancient ruins, but the whole area now is a mass of temples and monasteries built by Buddhist nations such as Thailand, Burma etc. At the time of Buddha there was no Nepal with the whole region divided into clans and states. Many Indians say/claim he was born in India!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Tony and Margie! I did consider that – the factors weighing in for me not doing one include that the ones available are much more detailed for Caucasian people, sometimes not detailed for Asians at all; and apparently NatGeo once scrapped their DNA testing as a lot of Indigenous people objected stating it conflicted with their values. A small factor is also the privacy concerns, although I don’t mind this too much. Maybe if something transpired out of Taiwan in the future ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The book does sound very interesting – especially with the personal connection! I am glad you have a start date for classes since you were getting anxious. I’m waiting for my trip to visit my sisters (a sister reunion). I’m very excited!!

    Liked by 1 person

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