As my high speed train (HSR or High Speed Rail) left Tainan for Taichung I could not remove from my mind the insistent crooning of Akshay Mohanty, “Aaji kali je dhana heuchhi naa tara taichung”. I seemed to hear the song louder every time the electronic display board of the coach showed the reducing distance to Taichung during the 184 km journey of 43 minutes. My present journey and Akshay’s song had evoked a fond childhood memory about the paddy seed which had been so popular among Odia farmers decades ago. My grandfather spoke highly about this high yielding variety seed, and I was now headed for the origin of the fabled seed. As I alighted from the HSR I experienced some kind of spiritual connect.
The window of my twelfth floor hotel room opened to a big park, complete with jogging tracks, a pond, flower beds, well manicured lawns, landscapes, kids’ playgrounds, tennis courts, telephones, toilets, eateries and all other amenities. Everything gelled so well with the leafy environment of the park. I waited for the next day so that I would head for the park first thing in the morning. Next morning as I immersed myself in my workout among the local folks who jogged, walked, played tennis, did tai chi exercises, I felt truly rejuvenated.
Just near the approach road to the entrance of the museum I discovered an Indian restaurant, a rarity in Taichung. The naan and chicken butter masala provided a welcome break from the Taiwanese cuisine and the regular McDonald’s and KFC fare. I curiously looked for the owner of the establishment who would most likely be an Indian, but there was no Indian face around. I asked the person who was serving us about who owned the place and he said he did. He was Fred Lin, an Indian of Chinese origin from Medinipur. Fred told us that Indian food was popular with the locals, and we could see it from the full house.
Sun Moon Lake teems with eating places supplying exotic seafood and delicious fruit salads. I enter into a restaurant to order the shrimp on display. To my great relief I find the owner well versed in English which makes the ordering part easy. I strike a conversation with him and gather that he is also bitten by the travel bug. He has visited 42 countries so far, but sadly not India yet. He has decorated the walls of his joint with his travel photos. The shrimp dish he prepares for me tastes heavenly.
On my return journey to Taichung in the evening I could not see the dark paddy fields from my bus window, but I could feel the calm that I experienced whenever I visited my grandfather’s farm years ago.