Loudspeakers become a part of your life if you live in Taipei. Schools use it; politicians use it; stores use it, and street peddlers use it.
But on this day, it was LOUD, so loud, as if hundreds of them were blasting at once, mixed with rounds of firecrackers.
I ran to the front street. There they were, many decorated blue trucks with pairs and pairs of loudspeakers. Several trucks carried men blasting away on this wind instrument called suo na which Google Translate does not help translate into English. Suo na is loud enough by itself. That’s why the country folks in China use it for weddings and funerals, because it can be heard from afar. Now imagine hearing it through so many loudspeakers!
The trucks carried gods, flower baskets, structures that look like papier-mache. Men hammered on big drums, lit firecrackers.
Some bystanders held their palms together and did baibai (a hand movement like praying). A woman stood nearby, incense in her hands. She was deep in thoughts. I felt awkward to be snapping pictures near her.
Finally, there was an old lady who seemed disturbable. I approached her and asked what was going on. She said in a hushed voice that a temple turned 100. Thus, many temples in town were celebrating it with a procession.
I asked what that woman was waiting for. The old lady looked at me with that “you ignorant woman” look but said politely, “She obviously is waiting for her gods.” Sure enough, they came. She went up to a truck and offered her incense. A woman in the truck gave her a piece of paper. I so wanted to ask what it was for and what’s written on it. Neither she, nor the old lady seemed to be in the mood for more questions. They continued to look on and did baibai.
I asked a guards which temple it was. Ah, he said, some temple. We have this all the time.