What’s yours is mine

One thing about living in Hong Kong is that you’ve got to learn to share. Whether it’s personal space, the (smoggy) air or even food, I’ve come to realize that nothing’s really mine.

See, I’m the type of person who’s never liked to share. Call it a phobia if you will, but it grosses me out. Biting from the same apple? Ew. Sharing a straw? No way. Licking from the same ice cream cone? Hell no! Eating someone’s leftover rice/noodle dish (in all its messy mixed sauce glory)? Excuse me while I puke.

Unfortunately, I’ve encountered a few situations where I’ve had no choice but to share. Like in China for instance, when I’m eating in a group. I usually order a small set meal that comes with rice and 2-3 small dishes that I picked out personally, but there’s always SOMEONE at the table who will stick their chopsticks into my dishes (without asking) and just peck away as if it was public property.

I’m sure this is all normal behaviour in China given that it’s a collectivist society, but my selfish Western self is screaming, “Back off! Get your own dishes!!”

Another time, I had brought a bag of grapes with me for a taxi ride into the city with a colleague. I kindly offered him some, but was appalled when he took possession of the entire bag without once offering it back to me. I managed to pluck a few grapes for myself once or twice during our 15 minute ride, but I couldn’t help thinking, “What the @#$!!! Those are MY freakin’ grapes, and here i am feeling bad for taking them back!”

To be honest, I don’t really mind sharing (as long as it doesn’t involve sharing spit) but I’d be much happier if it was I who offered or them who asked. It’s just a different feeling when you’re suddenly forced to share, especially when the huge box of juicy sliced papaya you were looking forward to ALL afternoon is reduced to 3 mushy pieces after your desk is stormed by colleagues armed with small plastic forks.

11 thoughts on “What’s yours is mine

  1. does it really have to do with love? I mean, I love my mother but it doesn't mean I wanna lick the same ice cream cone as her (she's more of an ice cream biter anyway).

  2. Hi there,

    I came across your blog and read this interesting post. Personally, I hate it how you have to share food in Hong Kong especially during group dinners as it is quite possibly the most annoying thing ever. Maybe that's just me.

    I am a food blogger in Hong Kong and come and check out my blog & fan page:

    Follow Geoff's Twitchen: http://geoffstwitchen.blogspot.com/
    Follow Geoff's Twitchen Fan Page on http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Geoffs-Twitchen/128763959419?ref=ts

    Happy Eating!
    Geoff

  3. Dear Miss Fong,

    The behaviour you describe is objectionable everywhere, including Hong Kong, although it is true to say that it is more prevalent here than in many other places.

    First cockroaches, now table manners.

    I fear that you're still living on Hong Kong, not in Hong Kong!

    Your friend,

    Tai O Boy

  4. Hey Tai O Boy,

    As I said before, the day that I start (in your words) living *in* HK as opposed to living *on* HK will be the day I stop blogging.

    Since you're such an expert on living *in* HK (or shall I say, NT), why don't you start your own blog about NOT noticing cockroaches or rude table manners? I'm sure you'll have LOTS to write about. ^^

    BIG HUG,
    Miss Fong

  5. i don't mind the bodily fluids (you might say “ew”)…but i won't share things like char siew, fried chicken and fries. simply because i don't even have enough for myself :p

    one (a closer someone?) could spit on my fried chicken and i'll still eat it (ok i can feel everyone's disgust as i typed this…hehehe a bit of exaggeration, but really, very close to the truth)

  6. This is the most retarded post I've ever read about chinese/hk culture. Comon Fong, you're in HK and the situations u described in China is just how chinese culture is. Chinese people share dishes during dinner because thats the way it is. You can't order a few small dishes for yourself and not expect others not to dip their chopsticks in it UNLESS you explicitly stated that they're for yourself.

    And the grapes thing? Oh comon now, you said you offered. And even if he did hold onto the bag.. WHO CARES.. they're fricking like $2 grapes.. stop being so petty!

  7. Hi Anonymous,

    Sharing dishes during dinner is perfectly normal, but I was actually talking about lunch when everyone gets their own set meal.

    Imagine if you and a colleague went out for lunch, and you ordered your burger with fries while he ordered his with salad. When the food comes, he digs into your fries without asking. Wouldn't you feel a little odd, at the very least? That's all I'm sayin'.

    And about those grapes…call me petty if you will, but I'm pretty damn possessive about my food (especially my beloved fruits)!!

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