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Online Concierge Service Helps Men Find Gifts for Their Partners

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This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition in Sept. 2014.

Dating is a serious business in Hong Kong. In an era of online dating and mobile matchmaking apps, every day thousands of single men and women in the city are busy searching for prospective partners through dating services. But what about those who have found true love and want to keep hold of it?

Enter the Butlur – an online gift-giving concierge service that describes itself as “helping discerning men delight women who have everything”.

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9 things to know before dating German men

What’s it like dating German men?

Having lived half a decade in Deutschland I’ve had my fair share of experiences – some grand, others regrettable – and can offer, cautiously, a Yankee perspective on the general question that will have generalized answers*. So please forgive (and indulge) me.

9 things to know before dating German men


1. 
Equality above chivalry
If you want an equal partnership – make Germany your first port of call. Here, all’s fair in love and equality. Rent and restaurant bills are split down the middle. You’ll seldom find doors held open for women. And it is extremely rare that a man will offer you the last seat on public transport. (Seriously. You’d be amazed at how many times I’ve seen pregnant women left standing).

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2. Personalities: East vs. West vs. Bavaria
Just as American Northerners scoff at Southerners, Germany has its own regional rivalries and personalities. Here it is in three very broad brush strokes: Continue reading

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Did you use protection, Mom?

The sex talk.Unexpectedly, I found myself illustrating precautionary measures before she walked out the door.

“Let me know when you’re home and be safe.”

“I will, don’t worry! I love you,” she assured me – a genuine attempt to appease my anxiety.

Like most parents, I swallowed mixed emotions that brew when a daughter goes on a first date: proud of how beautiful and independent she’s become, but restlessly suspicious of the man she’s with.

But I wasn’t a parent. She was my divorcee mother, and I, her overprotective daughter.

Signing as witness at my mother's wedding ceremony in 2013.

Signing as witness at my mother’s wedding ceremony in 2013.

In the last decade, the traditional parent-child relationship with my mother has been upturned, embellished with anecdotes that rival cumbersome remakes of Freaky Friday.

It’s not because I’m habitually controlling. It’s because of the real dangers facing dating divorcees: sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have more than doubled amongst middle-aged and senior adults from 2002 to 2012, according to the medical journal BMJ.

Thankfully, mother waited years until after her divorce to start dating. She was a selfless, devout Catholic committed to her children, providing any additional comfort when she could to me and my brother. So when non-biblical male names suddenly dropped in conversation while I was in college – my deeply furrowed eyebrows fashioned stern gazes of concern and distrust.

It was time to have ‘the talk.’

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Honey Grace Minaves follows a herd of hundreds of Filipina women, all navigating their way through a maze of back alleyways in Hong Kong’s Central district. Eventually they turn into the narrow lobby of an unmarked building, where Honey Grace patiently waits her turn to squeeze into one of the small elevators.

A dozen pint-sized Filipinas cram into the lift that would be a tight fit for five grown men. The elevator ascends past floor after floor, each with a distinct theme: shoe warehouses, consignment shops, beauty pageant rehearsals, and – for Honey Grace – a hair salon.

“I don’t have a boyfriend, that’s why I cut my hair,” says the raven-haired woman as her hair is styled.  “I cut my hair so that I can find someone.”

Honey Grace is one of tens of thousands of Filipina domestic helpers in Hong Kong who pamper themselves in hopes of finding love on Sundays – the one day of the week when they are usually off.

But one day a week is not enough time for romance, and the women are resorting to online dating sites to be courted.

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