When I was in Shanghai in 2006, there was a book I purchased called Shanghai Ren Jia (Homes of the Shanghainese). The major theme of the book (in both Chinese and English) was that Shanghainese people are very guarded when it comes to their homes; when they meet with friends or colleagues, they always meet in public places, like parks, restaurants, cafes. They rarely, if ever, ask others to come to their homes because that’s an intimate ask. There needs to be a certain sense of closeness to a person before you feel like you can invite him to your house.
New York City is a lot like that. It’s rare to get an invite to “hang out” at someone’s apartment or a homemade dinner invitation. Our spaces, just like in Shanghai, are relatively small and cramped, and it just wouldn’t be very comfortable. And usually, when we have received invites to come over to others’ apartments, these people are not originally from New York; it’s other transplants like ourselves who want to forge a sense of closeness in their personal spaces with new and old friends.
I’ve been wanting to organize a get-together at our apartment with a group of my colleagues for a while, but Chris wasn’t very keen on it because he has a “six-person-max” rule he arbitrarily made up. But since he’ll be away for Dreamforce this weekend, I decided to take advantage of it by inviting the crew over on Sunday. It’ll be interesting to meet some of my colleagues’ spouses and partners for the first time, and also see them outside of the usual work environment. Sometimes, you never know if colleagues could potentially be real friend material unless you take them out of the work space.