Bigindicator

Francisco Little

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Violent Times

Violent Times The news of the fatal Valentine's Day shooting in South Africa of celebrity Reeva Steenkamp by her boyfriend world athletics icon Oscar Pistorius has shocked the country to its core. That shock was profound because Pistorius is the personification of the spirit of determination over adversity, and is someone who has transcended his physical disability to become a global sports champion and role model for all South Africans. The shooting comes on the tip of a wave of violence in South Africa that has stretched from the horrendous Marikana massacre at Lonmin Mine in Augu... [more]
Posted by Francisco Little on 4/22/13

The Beijing Taxi Challenge

Any foreigner who has lived in Beijing for any length of time will know how difficult it can be to hail a taxi, especially at peak hours. Its a game of cat and mouse and taxi drivers have become adept at not making eye contact with the person trying their best to wave, dance, signal, jump, plead on the side of the road. In the recent past drivers have taken it upon themselves who they will allow into their hallowed vehicles. If you don't look like someone the driver approves of, rest assured he will put pedal to the metal and zoom off in utter disdain, after having given you the once over and... [more]
Posted by Francisco Little on 4/22/13

All the Fun of the Fair

In Beijing, celebrating Chinese New Year isn't complete without a visit to a Temple Fair. It's an ideal way to dive into Chinese folk culture and enjoy the carnival atmosphere with all the bargaining of a market. But it's not an outing for the faint-hearted. Its not so much the noise as the feeling of being in a strait jacket and moving involuntarily in a human tidal wave of thousands. At least being shoulder to shoulder helps to keep warm in the icy cold air. Having been around for at least a thousand years, some fairs have kept their traditional link with religious rituals during Chinese New... [more]
Posted by Francisco Little on 1/24/13

Marrying off the Kids

  One of the most interesting aspects of Chinese social life for a foreigner living in China is watching the urgency with which parents search for find suitable partners for their unmarried sons and daughters. Apparently fed up with their offspring, many of whom are in their thirties, still being single, proactive parents have taken matters into their own hands and literally gone spouse hunting. The system it seems is pretty straight forward. Parents pitch up at a designated location, armed with details of their children and network until they find parents with a prospective partner of op... [more]
Posted by Francisco Little on 9/4/12

Maomerabilia Is Hot Property

    By FRANCISCO LITTLE (c)   There is money in Mao. While the nation opens its arms to commemorate the 60 th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 2011, historic items spanning the past decades are changing hands with a fervor matching that of the Olympics’ souvenir hunters. And leading the memorabilia pack by a country mile is anything bearing the familiar face of Chairman Mao Zedong. Whether the revered father of the nation is adorning a porcelain bust, silk scarf, coffee mug or the face of a wristwatch, makes no difference to collectors, as sales seem to indicate quantity s... [more]
Posted by Francisco Little on 11/26/11

Don’t Even Think of Asking….

By Francisco Little That old standby conversation opener between strangers may not cut it in Beijing right now. “Lovely weather we’re having,” is possibly the last opening line local residents would want to use on foreign visitors streaming into the city for the Olympics. The reason is simple. Beijing’s skies have hung thick and gray, for days and unless the nature of the question was sarcastic, it would not be an option. In fact the options are looking decidedly limited. As part of the campaign to educate and inform locals of the correct etiquette to adopt when communicating with foreigners,... [more]
Posted by Francisco Little on 7/21/10

Under the Surface

    By FRANCISCO LITTLE I am not the most squeamish of people but I guess some things push the envelope just a tad. Thursday nights are deadline nights at the magazine where I work and the standing tradition is that staff working late, dine together. Within spitting distance from the office we have our own version of restaurant alley, with a short, brightly lit bustling street offering cuisine from all corners of China.   CUP-ITAL PUNISHMENT: Cupping bruises as it heals-a Chinese paradox Last Thursday, whilst seated around the plastic covered table, under t... [more]
Posted by Francisco Little on 2/27/09

A Kingdom of Pearls

By Francisco Little © It's chaotic down in the cavernous hall of the Zhuji Pearl Market. The oval space under a pearl shaped dome could easily double as indoor sports pavilion. Small tables covered in dark cloths are neatly tucked together in numbered rows, groaning under large plastic bags of loose pearls and endless strings of the butter-soft looking jewels. I get pounced on by women waving pearl ornaments in my face and run the gauntlet until the relentless pack lose interest in my shaking head and back off. Local seller He Di Feng has been involved with the market for as long as he can remember. It's a family a... [more]
Posted by Francisco Little on 2/23/09

Following in the Steps of Emperors

 By Francisco Little "The world is small," said Confucius. When he made that comment he was standing 1,545 meters above sea level on the top of Tai Shan (Mount Tai). When I stood in the same spot, I wondered if the great sage had a premonition about globalization, or he just marveled at the bird's eye view. I lost count of the steps after 30 minutes. The part of my brain that switches off when I do anything strenuous signaled shut down and my feet moved metronomically. I kept telling myself I was following in the footsteps of 72 emperors, Confucius and even Chairman Mao himself. Suddenly the phr... [more]
Posted by Francisco Little on 2/18/09

The Alms Race

 BY FRANCISCO LITTLE Being confronted by beggars in India is as commonplace as the sun rising and setting each day, but there is something rather disconcerting about walking a three-kilometre long gauntlet of continuous outstretched hands and pleading eyes. Cloth-wrapped impoverished hopefuls line both sides of a dirt road, sitting patiently - waiting for the one day of the year that historically lines their pockets with more than dust. June 15 - just another date for many around the world, but in the far north Indian mountain village of McLeod Ganj this is a very auspicious day. It is kno... [more]
Posted by Francisco Little on 1/3/09