People Watching

I’ve always liked watching people.

I think it’s fascinating. It’s what gives meaning to the question  – ‘who are you when nobody is watching?’

I am sitting at a restaurant, an all you can eat to be precise. The table next to mine is occupied by a family. Grandma, mum, dad, two teenage(ish) girls and a young boy maybe around 8 years old or so.

They must have been there for a while. Empty plates fill the table. They’ve had an array of different cuisines: Indian, Chinese, English, Japanese and everything in between. They’ve also had tea, lattes and soft drinks with their meal. At this point the table is considerably messy.

Conversation dies out and they all get their phones out, except for the young boy that has decided to get more ice cream. The boy comes back with a bowl filled with strawberry and chocolate ice cream. He sits down and stares at the bowl for a few seconds. He proceeds to empty about 5 packs of brown sugar and adds it to the ice cream. He then adds the remains of his curry sauce and other bits that cannot be deciphered. He mixes it well and puts down his spoon.

‘Who wants some?’ he says while giggling out loud and trying to stick the spoon in his mum’s face.

His parents start laughing while the sisters try to get away from him. This is OBVIOUSLY hilarious.

And while watching this scene, I wonder:

What happened to family dinners? What happened to the idea of family time and sharing ideas, thoughts, experiences, aspirations and inspirations? Where children were polite and learned to say please, thank you and that is not nice to play with their food? That you should ask be excused from the table but know fully well that you shouldn’t ask before all grown-ups had finished eating?

People don’t talk anymore.

Sharing moments has become something you do only on social media, so other people can see how much fun we have and how great our lives are.

And it’s sad.

A.

Ordinary People illustrations by Felicita Sala

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