Rod MacKenzie

Marks & Spencer hits Shanghai — with a few sparks

“Senor! You, yesss you, you go back of the kew and wait there for hour and a half now, like what my wivve and I did. Okay? You go now. Scram.” The finger-wagging, apoplectic Spaniard (standing in front of us, actually) glared at me in the slowly swirling horde of Chinese. It was only a…

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A response to Ismail Lagardien’s “We do not have to apologise for not speaking ‘proper English’ “

I loved Ismail Lagardien’s article which was inspired by my innocuous – or so I thought — comment on another blog. I thought it was a compliment that he took to task my remark on using correct English. I laughed at the nickname he gave me in the commentary box when he replied to commentators…

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Mom’s taxi in China

The photo in this blog shows a typical sight at about seven thirty in the morning in many parts of China. Mom taking her child to school. The lorry bicycle is not just a form of transport, like the BMWs or Mercedes moms use to take their children to St Stithians or Brescia House in…

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Nearly naked before mine maid (oh, I got to know her name later)

The late advertising guru, David Ogilvy, is well-known for saying “advertising is the most fun you can have with your clothes on”. Maybe true, but not quite so in the blogging world. I often sit at five am in my birthday suit and create a blog or two and trawl through my commentaries, reply if…

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Hey china, mind your manners. You becoming Chinese?

At the time, vegetarian Chinese food was new to me. The closest I thought a Chinese got to vegetarianism were those bowls of blackened fish heads some like to suck and crunch on while the fish’s eyes dolefully disappear into the slurping mouths. However, anything is possible in Shanghai, so all the meat meals on…

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The wiles of the inarb (I’m Not A Racist But…)

I was naively thrilled when Ryland Fisher posted Black people can be among the most racist. I didn’t like the title. It was an obvious attention-getter, and, before reading the blog, I thought it was probably a spurious opinion. However, his final words, “I’m a racist. You’re a racist. Let’s talk,” moved me to write…

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Madam & Li: of maids and teaspoons

Okay, it’s a myth. Maids do not pinch teaspoons or other items of cutlery. The folk tale in my childhood circle of family and friends in Boksburg and Joburg was that “they” did. “Oh for god’s sake,” my mother would mutter as she rummaged through the cutlery drawer, “we’re down to nine teaspoons again. I…

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A survival guide to teaching in China

Have a rucksack for everything you’ll need: some schools will not give you a key to your shared office, though keys are given to Chinese teachers. This, I am solemnly told, is for “security” reasons. That is to say, while you will have considerable difficulty at night getting past the security guards on the massive,…

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‘I’m a racist. You’re a racist. Let’s talk.’ Bzzt! Wrong answer (part 2)

The second in a series The woman with whom I am sharing the lift as we descend to the ground floor of our apartment building is a complete stranger. I reach across and touch her clothing: gently pull at the blouse on her waist area. She keeps smiling at me, nodding. I smile back, as…

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“I’m a racist. You’re a racist. Let’s talk.” Huh?

“Where are you from? What is your nationality?” are the regular questions I get asked by friendly passers-by (invariably Chinese) as I hasten through People’s Square park in downtown Shanghai, just off West Nanjing road. I say “invariably Chinese” because there are easily one thousand Asians to one foreigner even in cosmopolitan Shanghai. When I…

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