The types of couples you see at the Shanghai subway

The commute to my internship is a daily, 3-stop subway ride. Although it’s not really a long time, it gives me ample opportunity to gather field research in observing all the different kinds of couples that I encounter there.

So here is an incomplete list of these couples; hopefully you will be lucky enough to see them all in your own forms of public transportation:

1. The Siamese Couple:

This couple is basically one larger person. They stick together no matter what, even if it’s in the most crowded situations you can always find them firmly attached to one another. They hold on to each other for support to keep balance and stand side by side on the escalator, blocking everyone’s way.

2. The Fighting Couple:

Clearly, these two people are not having a great day. Whatever repressed anger they have with each other masters its full potential on the subway, and it’s a great source of entertainment for everyone surrounding them. Their argument continues all the way until they exit the cabin.

3. The Lovey-Dovey Couple:

This one you can find in a lot of public settings, but an especially inappropriate place for excessive PDA is the subway, in my opinion. It’s not exactly the same as the Siamese couple because they’re not necessarily attached at the hip…just attached through the lips or some other form of touching and feeling.

4. The Couple with the Crazy Kid:

For some reason, this is the couple I encounter the most on the subway. Maybe it’s because it’s rush hour and everyone is invading everyone else’s personal space, but there’s almost always a howling kid that exercises his/her lungs to full capacity on the subway. The couple tries their best to soothe and quiet him/her, but in the end they have no choice but to give up even amidst disapproving stares from others.

5. The Couple with the Really Cute Kid:

You don’t always spot it right away, but when you do it makes your subway experience instantly better. This kid is so cute and obedient that you kind of just want it for yourself…and if you’re in China, sometimes they’re wearing huge, frameless glasses. You constantly fight the urge of snapping several stalker shots of this baby.

6. The Couple Not From Here

It’s not even so much that they aren’t speaking in Mandarin or the Shanghainese dialect, it’s their volume that makes their agenda clear: they’re definitely not from Shanghai. They also tend to carry several large bags that contain their personal belongings, which often causes at least some distress when they try to exit/enter the subway.

7. The WTF Couple:

Providing that they produce some of the best-looking people in the world, I really have nothing against inter-racial relationships. However, sometimes they just look so awkward from the outside that you really have to do a double take. It’s not necessarily always a huge burly guy with a tiny Asian girl that brings about the WTF moment, sometimes it’s a couple where you honestly can’t tell which one is the guy and which one is the girl.


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