An audience with Zhufa

We’re in Heshang (河上镇) — which basically means ’town on the river’ — and we’re here for the most famous of its 28,042 citizens: Mister Zhufa (朱法). Zhufa is 86 years old but still works every day, and he’s so famous that people drive from nearby provinces to get his advice on Traditional Chinese medicine […]

Read More

Disappearing Yangpu

Foreigners often lament the loss of old areas in Shanghai (or anywhere in China) — most notably Laoximen — but we do so with a luxury that many Chinese people don’t have. We’d like these old buildings to stay around for us to look at and understand better the China of old, and perhaps the […]

Read More

想 (Wish)

In English: A rabbit wants to become a hare A dog wants to become a wolf A coat rack wants to be a moose A football player who wants to be a champion A chess player wants to be the best a boxer to be the last man standing A book wants to be a […]

Read More

Thrillers & detectives

I loved plenty of crime novels — Devotion of Suspect X, Journey under the Midnight Sun, In the Woods by Tana French, and several Agatha Christie stories as well as Lee Child, some Stephen King — and I’m now reading The Chestnut Man. The main thing I noticed, though, is that even when I absolutely […]

Read More

In Taicang: Porcelain shards of history

The museum in Taicang (太仓) shows the city’s history, how 1000 years ago — during the Yuan and Ming Dynasty — it was one of China’s richest cities, thanks to its position next to the Yangtze River. But the link between that city and today’s Taicang remains unclear to me, apart from some excavations and […]

Read More

We’ve lived 2021

We’ve lived 2021. In the future, you’ll remember the big accomplishments from 2021, but will you remember how they felt? The worries you felt were significant, the little joys that found their way, the hopes you had. Historic events will be reduced to paragraphs on Wikipedia, your feelings dulled by time. Write them down before […]

Read More

I want to be vulnerable, not strong

There’s a parallel that when you sport and you get bruised, it won’t hurt until after the football match, or the day after the run. There are stories of motorcycles losing a foot on a bend armco, and they won’t notice it until they stop riding and want to use that foot to stand on. […]

Read More

Experience of Spoken Chinese language courses at GoEast Mandarin

This summer, I joined GoEast Mandarin‘s summer intensive course intended for students who finished HSK4. Here’s my brief recap and whether you should do it too. Why Spoken Chinese and not HSK5? Several reasons. First, I live in China, but I don’t need the HSK exam for my visa, nor am I studying at a […]

Read More

How to speak to a person who is learning the language you speak

Introduction placed underneath the tips. 1: Avoid figurative language such as expressions & idioms It’s extremely difficult for foreign language speakers/listeners to understand figurative or abstract language. With this, I mean fixed expressions, idioms, sayings, proverbs, interjections. Anything not literal. Obviously, this applies to complex sayings like “You catch more flies with honey than with […]

Read More

I don’t miss teaching, but I do miss the students

I won’t be teaching any marketing this semester because my visa doesn’t allow it. I won’t miss the two-hour inner-city travel from Yangpu to Songjiang, I won’t miss the meager pay, and I won’t miss the weekends spend working on Keynotes and homework. But I will miss all 24 students, enthusiastic and cleverly crazy, each […]

Read More