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Friday, 10 January 2014

Am I Demophobic?

The fear of crowds or being crowded. "Agoraphobia" may sometimes be used to describe the same.

Story of the Day
This morning, I went somewhere to buy tonics and dried supplies for Lunar New Year with the mom. Oh yes, I slept at four in the morning and woke at 8.00 AM just so we could hit the wholesaler's early.

We were early, but just not early enough. There was already a crowd gathered at the lift lobby; the moment the doors opened to the right floor, things got worse. All I could see in front of me were faces - seas of faces.

Understandably, Lunar New Year is approaching in a matter of weeks, so everyone is happily (or unhappily) preparing for ingredients, foodstuffs and snacks to welcome the brand new year. However, too, unlike Christmas shopping, where only the younger ones shop fervently for gifts, clothes etc - for Lunar New Year, everyone shops.

And I meant everyone literally - old, young, male, female and regardless of religion or beliefs.

So yes, there were many people here, I repeat. These people were literally, pushing, jostling, blocking ways or just being annoying. And I had to endure that along with the heat and with safeguarding of my handbag (beware of pickpockets, they warned!)

The Unbearable Factors
I stood in the crowd, forcing myself to constantly take deep breaths to calm down, calm down, calm down. So I would not snap, or frown, or yell at the crowd to keep away from me, or worse, throw something at all of them. Yes, it was that unbearable.

Just imagine. You walk from one stall to the other, and along the journey you keep feeling hands and elbows touching you - brief contact, yes, but invasion of your valued personal space.

You stand at the side looking at something or asking about price, and you keep feeling your back being jabbed at or brushed by myriads of hands and arms of unknown strangers.

You take a deep, steadying breath to calm yourself down.

Then someone pushes past you roughly, an impact you expect to be apologized for, but no, nothing. Rush hour was in operation.

You take another deep, calming breath before the risk of hyperventilating takes over.

Then continue walking. Someone in front is standing in the middle of the aisle, blocking you. Worse, someone in front of you stop walking entirely because someone else in front of them is blocking them, and they don't know how to say "Excuse me" to clear the way; they just stand there being blocked, in turn clogging oncoming human traffic behind them.

So you push forward and clear the way for them, edging your way ahead to the next stall. Before you reach, however, the idiot in front of you suddenly stop in mid-stride or does a pivot to change direction or U-turn. This in turn causes you to either nearly lose your balance, or do an annoyed double-take.

Another deep, tranquilizing breath is needed. No, perhaps a puff of nicotine might work better to soothe frazzled nerves this time round. You close your eyes along with the deep breath this time round, perhaps even clenching your fists

The jostling, pushing, jabbing, brushing, sudden pivots, sudden U-turns continue to prick.

Till you exit the building completely and fresh air feels like the most beautiful thing in the world.

I don't know about you, but the way I feel about crowds is just pure disgust. I prefer my personal space to not be breached. The next time I go out,  I would select the odd timing and less crowded places.

I hate crowds.

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