Beijing Tai Tai – Tania McCartney

Standard

Exisle Publishing

2012

ISBN: 9781921966156

RRP: $14.99

I first met Tania when she came to my Canberra school as our author guest around ten years ago, and she and I just clicked from the first moment we spoke to each other. Since then it has been my honour and pleasure to be her friend. I have reviewed her books, been in awe of her talent (and her effortless elegance!), commiserated with her over slights and unjust decisions, laughed at silliness, virtually hugged each other many times and continue to be mad friends. When she offered up her book, of which she had some surplus copies, I jumped at the chance to read it.

It’s not exactly a travel book nor is it exactly a memoir but it combines both of these elements into a fabulous mash-up of anecdotes and vignettes that describe the experience of a very Aussie wife and mother living an ex-pat life in one of the strangest, most foreign (to us!) and downright quirky countries possible. I delighted in reading this over a few nights as I relaxed back into ‘school’ nights and loved, for one thing, that I could read one or two or more accounts depending on my level of tiredness.

I laughed out loud, I sympathised with Tania’s plight when bewildered or baffled, I snickered at her, often, caustic commentary on aspects of the Sino-experience and found her recurring mention of shopping totally hilarious – especially knowing her for such a total style-icon!

Aside from my political leanings, I couldn’t do it, I admit. I considered teaching in international schools and China and Hong Kong were among ones for which I interviewed years ago – and it was a close thing I admit, but I just couldn’t go through with it. So I takes me hat off to anyone who does take such a leap of faith – particularly with small children in tow.

I found this a lovely and insightful read. Not only has it given me a close-up look at one of the world’s busiest cities but has also provided me with some extra connection into my friend’s spirit.

Thanks Tania for the chance to vicariously live abroad with you – I’ll pass on the spitting, street toilet habits, your aya and even the shopping!!

Highly recommended for anyone with a pulse and a sense of humour – also with an interest in daily life from a Westerner’s perspective in an Asian setting particularly. Thanks for sharing Tan!

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