Rod MacKenzie

The art of minding other people’s business

I plonk my bag of groceries on the bar counter at Malone’s American Diner on Tongren Road, Shanghai, and the bar staff immediately walk over and inspect the contents. They stare in awe at the large container of freshly picked and washed lettuce, the blocks of cheese and the bread. Wu Hao wrinkles his nose…

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What makes you feel guilty?

What do you get paid to do? Right now I get paid to watch movies. My wage works out to about R250 an hour for two hours to sit with a group of Chinese first-year university students and watch movies — usually of my choice as they forget to bring movies of their choice. The…

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China taught me to laugh, SA taught me to weep

My maid, a sweet young lass called Tang Ying, brings me a punnet of strawberries under a thick layer of purplish mould. It had been softly rotting away, hidden under a packet at the bottom of our vegetable rack. She wants to know if she should throw it away. In the Family Convenience store of…

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An embarrassing truth

I just figured out an embarrassing truth. I woke up with an enormous hangover/nausea today, Sunday, my first babbelas in a long time, but I think it was more the rich food (German eisbein and sausages, etc) that I pigged out on which was delivered to our home last night. My wife, Marion, went off to…

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Racism and the power of apology

The Chinese worker suddenly and loudly laughed at me as I strode under my umbrella into the parking lot where our apartment building is on Beijing West road in downtown Shanghai. He stood directly in front of me and laughed, smirking at me: it was a loud, mocking, donkey’s bray. He shouted something at his…

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Wonderful China! Facebook and Twitter big no-no’s

Very wonderful China! 棒极 了中国! Yep, we can’t get into Facebook or use Twitter here in China any more, or for the time being. This is apparently due to the recent riots in Urumqi. We can certainly read about the riots in the (state-approved and monitored) newspapers such as China Daily and Shanghai Daily. I…

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The day my wife (nearly) went blind

I know there are many people who scornfully knock the saying “everything happens for a reason”. However, they do miss the profound chink onto appreciating life more: there is a teacher in every event. Whether one acknowledges the teacher in the event is another matter. Once giving consent to that truth, the chink then opens…

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China blocks internet: We want our soft porn

I want it all and I want it now — Freddie Mercury China’s rationale for introducing built-in software to filter out porn sites is definitely candy coating, says this man on the ground in Shanghai. Government policy states it is to protect people, especially minors, from viewing porn? That’s horse manure buzzing with blue-bottle flies….

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So … you done some ‘dicky measuring’ lately?

I am convinced some men buy large, expensive cars to make up for a certain lack in the groin area, or for a lack of performance in that area. (Perhaps it’s only perceived, like “ooh, I’m grossly overweight” among anorexic women.) And before the era of the automobile one of the compensations used to be…

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Free booze in China and so forth

It can be a laugh a minute living in this country. Oh I am sure the PCs and semi-literates will find my sense of humour (heck I don’t make it up, it is in your face and waiting to be photographed or copied) completely inappropriate. I am glad. Funny is funny. To hell with appropriateness….

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