Interview: Narita, Pharmacist (Benoit)

Hello everyone, this article is the first of the new concept for the series “People”. Rather than just writing an article from time to time, i have decided to focus on people in Litanies : after all, if Taiwan is so great, it is because of its people and this is why they deserve more attention. So each week-if possible, i will publish an article including a short movie, an interview, and a picture taken with my Yashica camera to highlight someone i think has something interesting to share. There are already several articles on the way! The purpose is to show an insight of what is going on in Taiwan those days, and share some of the magic I feel everyday. Once the article is ready I will print the picture taken with the Yashica and go to give to the people who accepted to do the interview as a way to thank them.
NB: the interview are usually in Chinese because this is more convenient for the people to talk, but you can enable subtitles in the video on youtube. Please share your comments if you have some ideas to make the article more interesting!

I had two pictures left to take, and it was already quite late, almost midnight. I was roaming around my home in an old street I like, thinking that if I couldn’t find anything interesting, I would just take some pictures of an old house made by the Japanese around 100 years ago. And I couldn’t find anything, so I headed to the house, put my tripod and started to check angle. Accidentally, I touched a pot of flower that was hanging there.
I was getting ready to shoot when I felt a shadow behind me. A lady was watching me. She was in her fourties, very alert at this time of night and ready to talk.


I was pleased to see that her english was good, she later explained to me that she had family abroad, and that foreign guests were often visiting her home. As I found out later, she thought I wanted to steal some of her plants. She told me that, lately, some people had tried to steal-she said also that the Japanese house I wanted to capture was popular and many people came to take pictures of it. We engaged conversation, and she asked me what I was doing here. As I mentioned I was working for a medical company, her face lit: she herself is an employee of the 華橋 hospital, the hospital of chinese people living abroad. She is a pharmacist and makes preparations for all kind of medicines. Because she likes it, and obviously believes it works well, she is also growing plants for her own sake, and this is one of those I had inadvertently touched. I felt quite interested by her story and offered to make a video of it to discuss-I had already written an art lie about Mr Chen and his Chinese pharmacy, and was wondering if she could tell me more about the origin of plants that are used in the traditional Chinese medicine. You can see the interview here in the video above.

We talked about many things. Her name is Narita, she chose it because she likes Japan and has been there many times. She works at this hospital for many years, and was I found remarkable Is how much she seems to enjoy her job-maybe for the human aspect associated to it, and maybe because working conditions are good. Talking to her, I really could feel her passion.

After the end of the interview, we kept talking, and she told me about how international this business had become. While Chinese medicine maybe has a limited impact on Weston societies, it could find resonance in the concept of herbal medicine, and I could tell that Japan and Germany were two of the leading countries in this field. She had frequent contacts with both countries. She told me that Chinese people came to Taiwan to learn some ancestral secrets of Chinese medicine, and that it was a blessing because otherwise, all this knowledge held by older people would disappear: young people don’t have any interest in it, and the population inn Taiwan is only 23 million, so she felt kind of safer that people share the culture with the 1,3 billion living over there on the Big Continent. I think she had a point!

It was great to spend a moment with her, time advanced, and my girlfriend was getting impatient for me to come back home, so we had to part and I promised to come back to give her the picture I had just taken with my Yashica. I admired Narita’s natural enthusiasm, the way she takes things positively, voluntarily even-she also took some pictures of me!- and I think that people who go to visit her in the 華橋 hospital are in good hands!

What do you think?