Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Scrum at Gate 9

For many, a trip starts when they arrive at their destination, for me the trip begins when I walk out my door. I knew we were going somewhere different when we got caught up in the scrum of humanity that pushed itself towards the airplane at our San Francisco departure gate for the Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong.

A few years ago while planning our China trip, we met up with our friend Kara's brother Tom and his wife Andrea. While having lunch I asked them what the biggest surprise or difference was that they noticed between China and America. They turned to each other with knowing grins and said something about the concept of personal space and how it takes on a totally different meaning in China--and as we discovered, throughout most of Asia. To demonstrate, Tom got up and walked as close to Andy as possible (who wasn't part of the conversation since he was paying at the counter) and body slammed him. Well, my response would have been shock, or nervous giggling, but Andy just turned and pushed Tom--a guy he had just met--out of his way! Yes, they said, Andy would do fine in China. After five weeks there, and five months in Asia we were jostled, pushed, and herded through lines, onto buses and over tourist sites more times than we could count.

But after a couple years at home, where we have our own personal space to spread out, we forgot about the land where push can come to shove, until yesterday. I'm not sure why this difference exists. I can postulate many theories but my favorite is that a combination of a huge population, and limited resources creates some sort of Malthusian law that states if you don't get in there and fight for your space on the bus (or plane in our case) you might never get on. My only warning is to watch out for the five feet tall grandmas, they have elbows that can really jab in painful places.



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