We follow 17 octogenarians on a scooter journey across Taiwan. The riders’ families and medical advisors express a cautious optimism regarding the dangerous-but-rewarding endeavor. Grandriders is a frank account of the implications of ageing in Taiwan–not just the obvious fact of mortality but also society’s changing conception of how the elderly are meant to behave. The captain who gets hospitalized early on is more upset about not fulfilling his responsibilities to his team than he is about his health. The stories of the riders show how the human spirit is often more resilient than the body it resides within.
I never thought of accomplishing some mission with 17 grandpas and grandmas, as I have rarely spent time with the elderly. But this journey is not so much about visiting different places along a 1,178-long path. It is more like traveling through misplaced times. During our trip, the grandpas spoke of an era full of power and possibilities. It is also through this trip that 17 wonderful life stories are strung together.
During the shooting, the Chinese New Year was drawing near. Every household along the way was busy with house-cleaning and holiday celebration. I saw children visiting senior family members as tradition requires. Their way of communicating, however, is not traditional at all– every kid has some high-tech gadgets in their hands. In the same time, Granpa A-tung told me stories of his wife like a chatterbox. Granpa A-tsai reached his callus-covered hands to hold mine, with agitation. It turned out that, 60 years ago, Granpa A-tsai used dynamites– and spent his youthful time– to assist the construction of a tunnel that we just passed a few minutes ago.
Winds fly. Time flies. They fly through the new and the old. They fly through the intimate and distant hours between two souls. I wonder how we can remember the smell of the elderly’s time. What should we do to remember things, when we become grandpas, too? …I only have a video camera in my hands.
“Stop shooting! Eat something!” Grandpas said. They put a generous amount of food in my bowl. I am still not sure what I have recorded for them. But I do remember their loving care delivered through food. I munched and munched. And I will always remember their love.