Category Archives: Life

An International City

One night early this month, on my way to meet a Swiss colleague’s PhD students from the university that she teaches at in Germany, a woman in the subway started to talk to me by complimenting my bracelet. She spoke English, … Continue reading

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Want to work in China? Be prepared (forewarned)

Dealing with bureaucracy really saps energy. Some people might respond that there’s bureaucracy in every country, not just in China. That’s right. I don’t want to make the country exceptional, as I haven’t lived everywhere. I have South Africa and … Continue reading

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Places and the (im)possibilities of friendship

Occasionally, I’d receive “come home frendo” and other similar messages on my Facebook wall or inbox.  The “home” referred to in these messages is South Africa, not the US. Though I’ve been back for research purposes, it’s almost been three … Continue reading

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“Doing the happy”

It’s not what you think . . . if you’re thinking that. The title is from a Chinese friend’s WeChat message while she was in Togo. She was excited that her local host planned to take her out that night. … Continue reading

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Small things matter, including modes of connecting people and places

I’ve been using the buses, including the BRT (or bus rapid transit), more frequently this time in Guangzhou. Previously, I’ve used the subway or metro system. Whichever one we choose to use, these transportation systems connect the city and allow the majority … Continue reading

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“This person is ‘ma fan’”

Ma fan, for non-Chinese speakers, is actually not the name of a person. It’s a Chinese word that looks like this 麻烦. It can be used as an adjective as well as a noun, meaning “trouble.” The kind of “trouble” … Continue reading

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Of body and beauty

It was probably in 2007 or 2008 when this situation that I’m about to share occurred. At that time, an Anthropologist friend had suggested that I write about it and, perhaps, offer some sort of theoretical analysis. I wasn’t keen … Continue reading

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