Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Space...is there any?
Personal space is an interesting concept in crowded places like Hong Kong and China's big cities. I am sure this is the same in cities like London, but I haven't spent enough time there to know. Anyway, when I first came to Hong Kong I found it difficult to even walk down the sidewalk. I always felt like I was having to dodge people, move away from people, etc. It was exhausting!!
In a couple weeks, walking down the street just became naturally easier and now I don't even think about avoiding people and such - it just happens. However, I sometimes still am stressed out by the lack of personal space. When in line for the subway, an elevator, anything, people will literally be pushing or leaning against you - even if you cannot possibly move any further. If you leave any room between you and what they are trying to get to, people will walk right in front of you. Even when exiting an elevator it is not uncommon for those wanting on the lift to push there way on, while you are trying to make room by getting off the lift.
That all said, there is another interesting aspect of personal space. Today (and other times) I was sitting down for lunch in a small sandwich shop. In the US, if there was not an open table, you would just wait for one. However, in Hong Kong, there is not really the concept of an open table, just an open seat. So, for example, today I sat with another gentleman at a 2 foot diameter table. Then, when he left, another young man and woman sat with me at the table. There the 3 of us were eating together and having no idea who the other person was. It is kinda strange to be looking at someone less then 2 feet away you don't know while eating a sandwich. I actually don't mind this, in fact I like that I don't have to wait for a table and I find it interesting.