Everything is paradoxically close-by in this vast city: one moment you get the most delicious smells tempting your nose, the next moment a putrefying stench spoils the effect. You see people so impatient that they cannot enter an elevator without immediately pushing the button to close the door, even when there is a crowd of people still waiting to get in, and when you leave the building there are people sitting around playing chess or lying on the grass having their siesta as if life was one big holiday. The same applies to community spirit: many apartment buildings have the shabbiest entrance areas and stairways you can imagine even though the apartments themselves are clean and comfortable. But out there in the compound people are hanging out together, happily chatting along, exercising or dancing until the small hours of the night.
On my western mind that has a very liberating effect. It feels like there are many options among these millions of people. Friends tell me that the pace of business life and its competitiveness here are merciless, but even in the most dynamic environments I never met the claustrophobic narrowness of most german workplaces.