Saturday, September 18, 2004


This morning I sat opposite a very old lady on the MTR. The trip between Admiralty and Tsim Sha Tsui stations takes five minutes and it took her that long to blow her nose once.

She began by opening her bag. It was a large bag with a zipper at the top. Instead of keeping two zips at one end she had them both exactly in the middle. First, she pulled one zip half way between the middle and the end of the bag. She then did the same for the second before pulling the first and then second zipper the whole way to their respective ends.

Reaching into her bag, she rearranged the items within before pulling out a pile of tissues which had been laid flat and then rolled up into a sausage held together with an elastic band. She removed the elastic band and laid the square pile of tissues on her knees before removing the top one and wiping her nose.

She then held the pile of tissues up in the air to make sure they were all lined up exactly on top of each other. Having made some minor adjustments she laid the pile on her knees again and proceeded to roll them up before reapplying the elastic band. She inserted the roll into the bag again, rearranging the contents to put it in its appropriate place.

Finally, she did the same zip ritual in reverse, bringing one zip and then the other halfway to the middle of the bag before bringing first and then second to the centre.

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