Friday, 16 November 2012

European attitude towards sanitary masks (what a title!)

This post might sound weird to you, but I really have had some discussions on this argument with Thai and Italian friends all these years. The temperature at the moment is changing a lot in few days and it means that we've more chances to catch a cold.

I think all of you have a picture of Asian (especially Japanese) people wearing sanitary masks on the street, in the subway train or any other public locations, even in the manga! Many many years back, when I was a child, we didn't have this habit in Thailand yet. But slowly Thai people, especially in an over-crowded city like Bangkok, have adopted this method from the Japaneses. Some are wearing the mask just to protect themselves from the air pollution. But the point is that it has become a kind of sensibleness wearing it in a public location when you have a cold and/or a cough. I admit that I don't know how much this action can prevent from spreading the viruses in the air, but I believe it can reduce at least up to 50%.

Why am I talking about this?? Well, it repeats each year that students in a classroom get sick one by one, and many times this circle goes on and on. I just mentioned with my son that it would help a lot if the sick mates wore sanitary masks...and as I imagined, he cried out loud "Oh, no! You'll be laughed at for sure if you do it!" I knew no one wears a sanitary mask for this reason in Italy, so I wasn't serious saying that. Even my husband, my in-laws or myself would do that! People will watch you in a very negative way as if you're a disgusting person and you'll want to disappear immediately! However, this's a bit sad in my opinion.

I once asked my Thai friend, who has been living here for more than 20 years, what she thought about this. She laughed and said "You already know, dear. Should we dare wearing a mask and go out? No, people will only think that you're terribly sick and they'll be afraid to stay near you but they don't recognise that it's better for themselves if a sick one wears a mask." I do agree with her.

As if this's the problem of the moment of the Asians in Europe, I noticed one friend who lives in Germany posting his status on Facebook about this argument. Another friend in Spain commented on his status...we're all thinking the same thing. Incredible!

I've an evident example of an Italian guy who got panicked by the sanitary mask....I'm talking about a person who is very very close to me. When I, my hubby and my son visited Bangkok, we always went out to enjoy life the most. We always saw some people here and there wearing the sanitary masks, such as in a huge shopping mall, in a park, in any spacious buildings and open-air, my hubby never had any reaction....until once when we stepped into the Sky Train, the door closed and in front of us we found two young ladies with the mask on their faces. I suddenly got a sensation that something was wrong with my hubby. After 2 stations, we got off the train and my poor hubby began to show panic on his face. I knew well what he thought, so I told him not to be that dramatic, and that he instead had to thank the girls because they use the mask. Although I understood his reaction, I just couldn't help making him changing the idea. I hope he won't get frightened any more the next time we go to Bangkok! He'll still see people with the masks anywhere.

After this, I don't expect Italian people to wear sanitary mask or to change their idea. I just wanted to emphasize how Asian and European people see things so differently. It's all normal, I'm against no one however!


  1. Clever post.. I actually always wondered the reasons behind this habit. I tried to use one too when riding my bike but it gets tricky with my glasses.. :D

    1. Thank you Lalav! I'm glad to know that my post gave you more or less an explanation ;)


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