Tue, Jan 17, 2006 - Page 16 News List

Lifestyle Briefs

AFP , BEIJING, NEW YORK, CAIRO AND HONG KONG

STDs for New Year in China

Chinese migrant workers are testing themselves for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as millions return home to their spouses for the annual Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, state press said yesterday.

China is in the throes of a massive urbanization process, which has seen up to 140 million migrant workers leave their home towns -- and often their spouses -- as they travel to cities in search of work. This means that many often engage in extra-marital sex, the China Daily reported.

"Around seven to eight people are coming to have venereal disease check-ups everyday, up from the usual two to three cases a day," Lu Haoqiang, at the Guangzhou Medical College told the paper. Lu said most patients had not been infected, but some of the workers still wanted to take the test results home to show their wives.

300 million Americans and counting

Sometime this month, somewhere in the US, a couple -- most likely Hispanic, with Spanish as their mother tongue -- will conceive the 300 millionth American, the New York Times has reported.

The prediction is based on the latest census statistics, which show the US population closing in on 297,900,000. With a baby being born every eight seconds, someone dying every 12 seconds and the nation gaining an immigrant every 31 seconds, the population clock ticks over one numeral roughly every 14 seconds.

Taking into account seasonal deviations -- birth rates normally peak during the summer -- the watershed 300 million mark should be reached in nine months. "You end up with a number in October," the Times quoted demographer and Census Bureau official Katrina Wengert as saying.

The US population passed the 200 million mark in 1967 and is currently growing at an annual rate of 1 percent -- the equivalent of the 2.8 million residents of Chicago.

A `Fulla' figure sells best

Move over Barbie, veiled is beautiful. The physical ideal of Muslim girls increasingly includes the hijab, as evidenced by toy shops' best-selling doll "Fulla" and the string of showbiz stars opting to cover up. The dark-eyed and olive-skinned Fulla has replaced her US rival's skimpy skirts with more modest "outdoor fashion" and Barbie's blonde mane with an Islamic veil.

"Fulla sells better because it is closer to our Arab values: she never reveals a leg or an arm," says Tarek Mohammed, chief salesman at a Toys R Us branch in Mohandessin, one of Cairo's more upmarket neighborhoods. The Arab answer to Barbie has been selling like hot cakes for Eid Al-Adha, the most important holiday in the Muslim calendar, not least because it is cheaper than its American rival, although both are made in China.

Street food is in for top chef

He's among an elite coterie of chefs who command the sort of respect usually accorded royalty, but when Thierry Marx comes to Hong Kong there's only one place you'll find him searching for a meal.

"I hit the street as soon as I come here," says an excited Marx. "There is nothing like street food, especially in Asia. It is so very important to the development of different cuisines -- I get so much inspiration from the street."

For Marx, named last year's chef of the year by gastronomic bible Gault Millau, there is no such thing as "slumming it" when it comes to food. "You cannot ignore what is on the street," says the two-and-a-half star Michelin chef, in Hong Kong for a brief spell in the kitchen at the plush Sheraton Hotel's Oyster Bar.

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