Thursday, May 21, 2009

Love Letters, Hate Mail: Space, the Final Frontier

The previous post is relevant because it's not just about the dirty diapers. Space is at a premium here (have I embroiled that into your head yet?) and while we AMERICANS like our space and our privacy... well, Hongkies don't have that.

Immediately after the dirty diaper incident, I could hear someone in the front of the room clipping their nails. This is not the first time I've experienced someone clipping their nails in public. I've seen it on the MTR, I've heard about people doing it at work. And it's one of those things that if you're aware of it, you can hear it a mile away.

So, knowing this, you can imagine the kind of activities that take place in the women's locker room at the gym. I personally spend as little time in there as possible.

This lack of space also causes Hongkongers to be absolutely unconcerned with the people surrounding them. They can mentally block out ANYTHING. Traffic, noise, people ramming into them. Whatever. This really bugged me especially when I first moved here.

If someone bumps into you, you expect them to say sorry right? Not here. It's to the point where they'll bump into you on purpose to get you out of the f'ing way. This is a constant at the grocery store. Instead of saying excuse me, they'll just ram into your cart with theirs and not even give you a second look. For me, I would rather someone say get the F out of my way than that... but it's just the culture. I've even been in line at the grocery and someone runs their cart right into me, my person. Does that make them think I'm going to move any faster?

Bumping is something you cannot avoid either. You have to learn to live with it or you'll die of a heart attack. Just as people don't give a S if they bump into you, people don't give a S if they get bumped. It's a fact of life here and just one of those things that Hongkongers have evolved to ignore. So, if I slam into someone, I don't feel bad at all. But I still have enough respect for them to say sorry and excuse me. I TRY to hold onto my manners but it's getting harder and harder.

A friend who lives in Causeway Bay (a very busy neighborhood) has a 13 second walk between her front door and the entrance to the MTR. On average she gets bumped 4 times.

So, maybe a Hongkie could ignore me if I went off on them in English (It hasn't happened yet but it's just a matter of time before I punch out someone) but they certainly can't ignore me if I rip them a new one in Cantonese. And then beat the S out of them with my shoe.

I'm enrolling in Cantonese classes in the Fall.

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