Pure Yoga is a yoga studio chain located throughout Taiwan, and while staying in Taichung, a city in western Taiwan, some of my fellow performers took dance and aerobic classes there on our days off.  On the Fourth of July I woke early hoping to catch one of the classes but was disappointed when the studio appeared closed after 9 a.m.  I decided to go for a run instead despite the intense heat and humidity, and ran towards the large science center not far from our hotel. 

The center is surrounded by beautiful botanical gardens with information in English.  After lapping the park a few times, I decided I wanted to come back and walk slowly through the area after showering.  I returned a half an hour later with my camera strapped around my neck.  As I descended a large moss covered hill, I spotted a man sitting on a low brick wall in the shade.  He looked so picturesque, and I snapped a few photos from behind, and then continued walking closer to him.  When I was nearby, I noticed he was focused on a large silver pocket watch in his left hand which was resting on his knee.  I asked him if I could take his photograph, to which he replied "no, no, no.  I'm too old."

For a few minutes we play the game of me guessing his age, as he continuously says, "no, older."  Finally he tells me he is 85.  I'm very bad at guessing ages, but to me he looks no older than in his late 60s.  I then ask him to guess my age.  At first he refuses, not wanting to be rude, but when I egg him on he says "20 more or less," with a smile.  

"That's pretty general," I say laughing.  He laughs too, although I'm not sure he really understands my joke.   

He tells me twenty years ago before he retired, he used to teach at the nearby university.  Then he becomes distracted by my camera.

"That is a Nikon?" he asks.  I nod.
"You know the Japanese pronounce it Neekon, but grammatically it is really Nikon.  You keep saying Nikon."

We walk for a little while, and I take photos of nearby plants and flowers.  I ask him if he's been to the science center, and he says he's been several times.

"In Taiwan, if you are 75 or older, you get into everything for free," he explains.  I tell him if I had more time to spend in Taichung I would like to visit the science center.  

"Do you think I could pass for 75 so I could get in for free," I ask jokingly.  

"No," he replies with seriousness.  "Not fat enough," he says as he pats his Santa Clause belly.

He begins to tell me more about the university where he used to work, and describes a temple located on the campus.  He then corrects himself and says, "no, not temple, not Buddhist.  Like no church in the world."  He then picks up a branch that has fallen from a nearby tree and begins to draw a floor plan of the church in the dirt.  He describes the building, and I listen with interest.  If I had the time, I'd really like to visit the campus.  The way my new friend describes it, makes it seem very beautiful.  

Soon he tells me he has to go home to change into a more formal outfit because he is going to meet a friend and he wants to look his best.  He says, "You are so kind.  Americans are always so friendly, especially girls.  No one usually wants to talk to an old man."

I tell him I've very much enjoyed my time with him, and I think he is also very kind to take the time to talk to me.  "It's always nice to meet new friends when I'm away from home," I say.