Wednesday, December 22, 2004

small island

There are about 22 million people in Taiwan, which is about two-thirds as many people as there are in California.

Why, then, is it that every person that I meet that is from Taiwan (or whose parents are from Taiwan) is somehow related to me, or knows someone who is related to me? And, everywhere I go, I run into Taiwanese people that are somehow connected to me. I'm tempted to blame my grandmother and her nine brothers and sisters, but that doesn't always work either.

I met a friend in summer school at Berkeley, in a Latin class. It turned out that she was the second cousin of a guy whose father plays golf with my dad. That same guy later went to MIT and lived in a frat next to my dorm.

My second cousin is now the president of the Association of Taiwanese Students at MIT. Her brother goes to Columbia with my sister, where he hangs out with a guy who I first met over ten years ago, at a dinner party with our parents. My sister also became good friends with another girl at Columbia, who we later discovered was a third or fourth cousin a couple of times removed.

My sister now has a new FFXI buddy whose family runs a pharmaceutical company in Taichung. Based on that information and their last name, my mother was able to figure out exactly who this friend was, and how we knew him (and his family).

And on it goes...every classmate or colleague who I meet, who is from Taiwan, is somehow traceable to a distant (or sometimes not-so-distant) relative or family friend. I thought about it for awhile, and decided the community of Taiwanese-Americans is much smaller and is likely to be more closely networked, and that's why everyone knows everyone.

But, that doesn't explain this: Yesterday, for my birthday dinner, we went to Alice's, which is one of my favorite Taipei restaurants; a steakhouse with super-yummy black pepper steak sauce. We ran into a guy who turned out to be my uncle's wife's cousin on my dad's side, and my great-uncle's wife's nephew on my mom's side. Scary.

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