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.