You wouldn’t have thought it, but you’re looking at the Ninth Circle of Hell — that is, if you live next door. In our neighborhood a local charity that is building a hospital nearby has purchased several of the large villas for use as dorms for its doctors and nurses. The buildings are all being made over, and so we have been subjected to months of drilling, shouting, radios blasting bad music at all hours, and dust and brick chunks scattered everywhere. The result is that we have to keep our doors and windows closed in the best season of the year.

Remodeling a house in Taiwan is an ear-splitting ordeal. In the US houses are made of wood, and are easily dissembled and reconstructed. Here in Taiwan the usual methods are either concrete poured into molds, or concrete over brick. Consequently, walls have to be demolished, not taken apart, and by jackhammers. The noise is unbelievable torture.

Of course, another fine thing about having remodeling going on in your neighborhood is that in Taiwan, the streets are used for storage. Our neighbors across the street are also remodeling, and they have left these bricks in our parking spot in front of our house for a week or so, in fine neighborly regard for our needs.

Not that they are the only ones. On one side stacks of bricks block the road, on the other, parking is occupied by roofing and siding material.

I can’t wait for this to end.