A visit to Hong Kong reminded me how much I miss living in a city – a real city with lots of people and buildings so tall that you cannot see the sky.
There are two kinds of people in the world: City dwellers and non-city dwellers. They are very distinct breeds. As a city dweller you would resonate with the following:
Skyline: I prefer watching the skyline at night than sunset or sunrise. There is something very mesmerizing in the lights that shimmer in all the buildings. They tell a story of their own. Transformers was shot in Hong Kong, and now I know why. Hong Kong has one of the coolest skylines – The whole city is a skyline, and it has two of them one on the HK island and one on Kowloon side.
Muggers: City dwellers automatically move their purses/bags to the front in crowded areas to prevent mugging. This is a very natural instinct that they have. You will notice that most of them always have a hand on their valuables.
Getting in trains: This is an art especially in crowded cities like Mumbai. Not only in trains but any overcrowded situations like buses, functions. There is a way to use your elbows and wriggle through crowds, and if you want to take it a step further, you also know how to hold seats for others.
Crowd Management: I noticed that after 2-3 days I was getting into the rhythm of HK. Walk on one side where a line of people is moving in the same direction as yours, look at the ground. There are etiquettes here too – when to bypass somebody etc.
People in cities are not polite – not because they are not friendly people but because there are other high priority tasks – mere politeness is useless. Like we got a ticket from customer service in the subway in Hong Kong and before I could even say Thank You he had moved over to the other window to help another customer. He glanced at our window, and when he found us standing there, he asked if everything was ok. Because people don’t wait around at his windows unless something goes wrong.
People do not smile at each other like how they do in other less crowded places. Here if you smile at each other, it is considered suspicious behavior. Again, not because they are not friendly people because when there are other things at stake like getting home – such niceties take a back seat.
All this does not mean those city dwellers are not connected. On the contrary, there is an intense bond which comes by sharing the city together, elbowing to get into the train, bypassing the tourist who is wasting everybody’s time, shared looks when subway breaks down, shared the joy when lights come up on a tall skyscraper. This connection goes beyond words and mannerisms that the rest of the world seems to follow.
Living in a city makes me feel connected even if I do not smile at strangers or say Thank You to everybody. Somethings run more in-depth, and you have to experience them to know it.