Twist and turn

I just came back from Taipei, and I absolutely loved it. When I agreed to go to Taiwan with a friend, I didn’t have that high an expectation. I had been to Hong Kong, with which I wasn’t overly impressed, and I was expecting something similar. We went first to Taichung which was mildly pleasant (though the woes of not being able to communicate to anyone in English were great). But then we got to Taipei… and it blew my mind.

I fell in love as soon as we exited the main station. Our hostel was in that area, and all around us was food – foods galore. My first taste of Taipei was the Tiger Sugar milk tea, which was divine. It’s not actually tea. It’s milk shaken with ice, with chewy pearl bubbles and caramelised brown sugar syrup lining the inside of the glass. If it sounds good, trust me – it tastes even better.

Then I twisted my ankle. Yes, my first night in Taipei and I managed to step off the pavement in the wrong way (I didn’t even know one could step off a pavement wrong). So all my plans to explore Taipei on foot went out the window as most of the next day was spent nursing my twisted ankle with an ice pack. But I did go out to Huashan 1914 creative park which is a former tobacco factory turned trendy area with shops selling knick-knacks and cafes and restaurants. I spent a couple of hours wandering the area, which was very nice. Then my ankle started swelling up and I came back to the hotel with a brand new ice pack.

So, given I saw so little of it, what do I love so much about Taipei? It’s easy to get around. It’s (or at least feels) safe. It’s not expensive. Food is abundant. And the cafes – oh my – cafes everywhere, cafes around every corner. The coffee culture is alive and well in Taipei, and there are plenty of nice ones to laze around in and try different beans. I’ll go back for sure. In a way, the twisted ankle makes for the perfect excuse.

So that’s the twist in my title. But there was also a turn which was as unexpected as it was sudden. In some ways tragic, in some fortunate.

I found myself in the wave of a restructuring at my company. Until last week I didn’t know what it meant on the ground, but in the past two weeks I have been feeling it in full force. Six colleagues I know, many among them those I’m closest to, were laid off in a cost-cutting move by management. The news came as a shock to us all, and our happy team was to all intents and purposes dissolved.

What’s even more surprising to me is my reaction to the news. After the initial shock receded, I have felt a complete absence of emotions. I feel concern for my colleagues who were hit, but I don’t have an emotional reaction to the way in which things were handled, the injustice of it all – unlike the remaining people on the team who are experiencing a mixture of strong emotions.

I guess in a way that shows how I feel about the corporate world. Over the years (albeit few) I have experienced it, I have come to believe that I am just a number. In my immediate team, I am loved and cared for. But beyond that, I am as dispensable as the next person. And recent events have reinforced that notion. The question I have to ask myself now is: do I want to be in this world?

So the upside of this series of unfortunate events is that it has forced me to stop and think. One year has passed since I joined this company. I have displayed a solid performance and am holding a high-profile portfolio. And until the next wave my position is secure. I think though that an anniversary is a good time to take stock and in the past few days there have certainly been a lot of thinking and a lot of conversations.

There is certainly future for me at this company, but is that future mine?


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