Three-Point Turn, Chinese Style

This is a photo celebration of the Chinese three-point turn. There’s no other driving strategy as predictable on Shanghai’s streets as this particular maneuver. A turn missed? (Why not just turn at the next block?) Evading congestion at the upcoming intersection? (There was congestion at the preceding intersection, too.) Left your oven on? (The ayi…

Pirates, DVDs and Moral Decline

“Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters or take any from you.” — Blackbeard A few years ago, I dropped off a Christmas gift – a small jar of Vermont maple syrup – to a friend in the States. A day or two later I received a thank-you note via email. “What a great…

Little Soldiers: Big Questions

The education of children can be a controversial and emotional topic, especially for parents of children in the K-12 system. As a parent and teacher, I’ve been on both sides of the equation in the U.S. and China. For Westerners, teaching and parenting in a predominantly Chinese environment can intensify these emotions in disconcerting ways….

The Tyranny of Chinese Taxis

Ask any Westerner in China about hailing a taxi, and you will be regaled with a story. Everyone in China has a taxi story, and the narratives can veer precipitously (like cars) between hilarious and terrifying. The most common tale is one of passive woe. Hailing a cab can be frustrating for foreign nationals who…

Scan or Be Scanned

  Behold the QR Code! In China, everyone has one, kind of like a belly button. Unlike a belly button, however, this black and white beauty begs to be scanned with your phone. Your QR code is as unique as your fingerprint or your retina, but better, since you won’t need an eyeball transplant when you’re…

40 Ways to Know You’re Back in China

After a lovely holiday break, it’s back in Shanghai. There may be fifty ways to leave your lover, but I could only come up with forty ways to know you are back in China. Here’s something a little less thinky than the dog meat post. Your yoga class is on the 39th floor You think…

The Nasty Bites: Looking Your Food in the Eye

“Cooking puts several kinds of distance between the brutal facts of the matter (dead animal for dinner) and the dining-room table set with crisp linens and polished silver.” –Michael Pollan, Cooked “ … the stew of meat that’s been cut into geometric cubes and rendered tender by long hours in the pot represents a deeper…

The Cultural Landscape of China’s Urban Parks

For a city its size, Shanghai had been short on two things—green space and art. –New York Times, 36 Hours in Shanghai, 2017 I have to agree with The Times that Shanghai is short on art relative to many large cities—artists have pesky habits like bucking authority—but green space? I simply disagree. Surprisingly dense canopies of…

Thai Zeed Recipe: A Little Slice of (Lost) Heaven

We’ve finally arrived at the sweet spot of this year, post-Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas. Admittedly, this is a filler post. I’m working on a longer piece comparing China’s urban parks with America’s, and it is taking me in unexpected directions. It seems I need a little encouragement and some holiday cheer. Visitors to Shanghai are inevitably…

China In Relief

I write this week from Singapore, a city-state that legislates politeness; the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act made it illegal to incite hostility toward most religious groups, and vandalism can beget a caning. Moreover, Singapore fines citizens for jaywalking, importing gum, littering, urinating in public and spitting, misdemeanors that throw China sharply into relief. Singapore is…