To outsiders, ethnic minority groups appear more homogenous than they actually are. One long-established Hong Kong community that epitomises this conundrum is the “local Portuguese” – to use one of several classifications used by themselves (and others) as a catch-all label. Despite the term, connections to Portugal lie a long way astern – if at all. For the most part, “local Portuguese” are descendants of centuries of intermarriage in Macau between Europeans (mostly – but not invariably – metropolitan Portuguese), Japanese, Indians (generally Goans), Malacca Malay Catholic converts, various Chinese ethnicities, Filipinos, Timorese (and other Indonesians), even occasional Africans, mostly from Mozambique or Angola. Unsurprisingly, this astonishing ethnic melting pot, and the resultant creolised language, food and home culture – now largely vanished – evolved into an extraordinary intercultural diversity. In tandem with the global decline of Portuguese power from its mid-17th century heyday, Macau’s importance had significantly diminished by the early 1840s. Until the opening up of China ports, such as Shanghai, to Western trade, along with the establishment of Hong Kong, Macau was in most respects a backwater, dazed and torpid, with its indigenous people thoroughly marinated in the memory of other, better days. As soon as opportunity beckoned elsewhere, anyone with a modicum of “get up and go” quickly got up and went; the trend inexorably continued as word filtered back of the more prosperous lives that could be built elsewhere. By the early 20th century, three distinct Macanese subsets, with a much smaller (though nevertheless distinct) variant in Japan, mainly found in Yokohama and Kobe, had evolved. Macaista – the Macau-domiciled – remained oriented towards Portugal; colonial links continued to be strong with the metropolitan country. In particular, Macau had a garrison presence that rotated from Portugal, along with civil servants, police and administrators. Those nostalgic for Macau pine for a place that never existed Macanese settlers in Hong Kong eventually became known (among themselves) as Tong-tong. This now-obsolete term – a lexical borrowing from the Cantonese for sugar – gently mocked the slightly affected, 1930s cinematic upper-class British accent the socially aspirational of all races in Hong Kong tended to affect when speaking English. The resultant “yah-yah-yah” drawl, apparently, sounded like sucking a boiled sweet while talking. In Shanghai, a sizeable community developed, known as the Shanghainista; as in Hong Kong, numbers were large enough for separate police reserve and Shanghai Volunteer Corps contingents to be formed. Shanghainistas who decamped to Hong Kong in the aftermath of the Communist takeover, in 1949, as displaced persons found life in the British colony a rude shock. Small-town colonial snobbishness, in particular, was not something they were used to, having hailed from what was among the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. In addition, any Chinese dialect they spoke was incomprehensible in Hong Kong. Some clung on in Shanghai until 1952-53, when it was apparent that the Communists were there to stay. While a few remained in Hong Kong and forged new lives, the colony was usually a way station to security elsewhere. Given pre-Liberation Shanghai’s popular orientation towards “all things American”, the Shanghainista’s cultural dial was firmly tuned to San Francisco, and that city – and elsewhere in southern California – was where many ended up. Now dispersed, the Shanghainista community only exists in fading memory, a few poignant picture books, and certain family’s own receding backstories.