When I was studying about 20 years ago in the UK, I had two Taiwanese flatmates. We all traded some common must-know phrases over the year that I was there—the favourite being trying to learn “I Love You”. While they tied themselves in knots trying to say that in Hindi, I practised saying hello in Chinese, grappling with“Chifanle meiyou” that, loosely translated, means “Have you eaten?” Sui Mei said that this was their common form of greeting in Taiwan. Fast forward to 2010 and when earlier this year I visited Taipei, the swish malls and shops had ushers calling out what sounded like “Ni hao”, or “Hi! how’re you?” What wealth did to citizens in Taiwan, however, went beyond just a changed greeting. After a certain level of fullness of stomach, the middle-class Taiwanese could not digest their smoke-filled, congested, filthy capital with its putrid river adding to the mess. They demanded change and got the government to turn around a ghetto into one of the smartest cities in Asia.