Saturday, August 27, 2011

Old People. They're Social, Too.

I realized today as I was walking around that I forgot to mention something in my other posts that I had thought to be a rather important thing. Guess food was the biggest thing in my head at the time. What I wanted to mention was my amazement at the amount of older couples I saw actually holding hands and putting their arms around each other. There are so many older people hanging around outside during the day, no matter how hot, playing with their grandkids, soaking up the sun, or just chatting with friends on a bench during lunch just like we do at Centenary. They’re so socially active, and even the ones in wheelchairs are getting out and doing things!

People here respect their elders. They don’t seem to just toss ‘em into an old people home. Not just that, but they seem healthy and happy. They take care of themselves as well. It makes me wonder if that could ever be possible in the U.S. I suppose that if it’s ever going to happen, it’s gonna have to start with us, with our generation. Who says we have to wait for other people to get the ball rolling? Why can’t we enjoy our lives no matter the hardships? Why can’t we enjoy being old together and be just as social as we were when we were teenagers? The only thing preventing us from doing so is our own self-pity and the stigmatism of the older generation.

One of the things that seems to make this possible is the fact that most people are forced to be next to each other. Many people don’t have cars and only ride the buses or walk. There are also many small parks and bench areas with shade and cover near local shopping areas. They’re clean and well-kept, and everyone can enjoy sitting with their friends and talking about old time or the prospects of a brighter future for themselves as well as for others. Seeing the couples holding hands, and the older women chatting, laughing, and just plain smiling . . . it made me happy. I wish I could see more of that at home. But we are separated. Everyone’s kept to their own space.

Speaking of space, it’s almost as if people here don’t have it. It’s not unusual to bump into someone. It’s not strange to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in lines or sit next to someone you don’t know at all on the bus. They’ll be right up behind you talkin’ up a storm with their buddies back there, and you wonder if they’re touching you and you just don’t feel it, because their voices are so close. I got used to it pretty quickly, but I think that’s just because I’m generally not a “Oh my gosh get away from me” type of person. I wonder just how old some of these people are. It would be awesome to find out. To find out how they view things, what their ideas are. If I could speak Cantonese, I probably would have already tried asking them something.


  1. "If I could speak Cantonese, I probably would have already tried asking them something. "

    Ask anyway. You might be surprised at many of them already know English or at least someone in a group will know it and help translate. Hong Kong used to be a British possession before its return to China and I'm sure the locals and the Brits spent several decades having to work together.