One of the first few things I noticed when I set foot in this country is that there’s no TV in the living room! To some of you this may not be surprising, but to a Chinese, this is rather odd..! You will find just a sofa, a fireplace and a coffee table in the Bogotano living room where guests are received for drinks before proceeding to dining formally. It’s an intimate space for chatting, and therefore without the distraction of a TV. This is a stark contrast to the Chinese living space where the TV is ALWAYS on, constantly playing sounds (be it political commentary, football or soap opera) so as to avoid any embarrassing silence. You’ll find the same thing even in the private dining room of upscale restaurants, and more than likely no one is watching it. Since noise is associated with liveliness and festivities, a good party should be noisy.
Instead, the TV is in the bedrooms of a Bogotano home. It all started with one TV in the master bedroom. But as families trade up their TV size, specs and what-have-you, the old TVs get the honour to be in the children’s bedrooms and kitchens, so nowadays you may have 3-5 TVs in a home! It’s interesting, since the US and other advanced cities may be experiencing a downward trend in TV consumption while entertainment seekers are increasingly gravitating towards the phone/tablets for various online streaming services, the TV is still holds a very important status in Colombia. This, I see, as a good sign of promising development, despite not an even one. More people are buying new TVs in Alkosto (as I previously discussed in the piece about consumption) and having more spare time watching it.
There is a BIG problem, and quite a puzzling one, having TVs in bedrooms and not the living room, in my opinion.. Watching TV/movies and eating popcorn become activities reserved for the bed, which I, as a Chinese (and I know this is also true for Malaysians, and probably many other Asians), find it a tad bit unhygienic, since the bed is THE ‘sacred’ space in one’s home. On top of that, imagine how uncomfortably strange it is, when all your guests (it could be more than 20 people, since gatherings will include your cousins, in-laws’ nephews and nieces, and cousins twice removed etc..) have to climb onto your bed in your very intimate space to watch TV..! Last year during one of the many World Cup parties, I remember cramming into the master bedroom’s bed with 10 others to watch Colombia vs Greece..