Going postal

With the arrival of our second child we’ve yet again mired ourselves in the tedious administrative circus of registering the birth and applying for a passport. We learned the first time round that living abroad makes everything that bit more stressful as you need to send original birth and marriage certificates back and forth between … More Going postal

Surprise in a box

Australian customs are notoriously strict in what they allow into their country, in order to keep their unique and delicately balanced ecosystem from being contaminated by foreign chuff. And I can understand why – whenever I see kangaroos sprinting in the local park or tropical coloured birds in the back garden, or find botanic gardens in every town … More Surprise in a box

Countdown begins

In the end, it was kitchen towels that hit home to me that we were really leaving Beijing. I’d parked the pram in front of the shampoos, given baby a packet of tofu to play with, tottered over to the back corner of the shop and reached for our usual jumbo pack of four rolls … More Countdown begins

On turning 30

I’m turning 30 soon. And for a while I’ve been thinking about what I could say about it. That I feel more settled in life, more certain of what I want? That I’m more comfortable in my own skin, and less neurotic about, well, everything? But if I’m honest, that’s all only partially true. Definitely partially true, … More On turning 30

Have a kanyixia

“What’s a canisher?” I almost asked. But thankfully my brain, despite the glass of wine, managed to pip my mouth to the post and stopped it from making the grave social faux-pas of not understanding someone’s joke. But then my brain couldn’t immediately process it either, and tied itself in a knot. I winced from … More Have a kanyixia

A realisation

Heading back from dinner on Valentine’s Day, there was a spring in our steps that had nothing to do with love or romance, nothing to do with the celebration of our relationship or the beauty of our future ahead. We’d taken the death-machine that is the rickshaw the wrong way up multi-lane roads, the bitter-tasting … More A realisation

Me, myself and ayi

On jobseekers’ noticeboards, in the shops near our apartment and in conversations with other expats, there is the regular presence of the ‘ayi’, the Mandarin term for domestic help. Invariably a woman, the ayi will cook, clean, wash, iron, shop and look after your children, and you can agree to employ them for however many … More Me, myself and ayi