It struck me randomly today as I was eating my lunch (palak paneer and stuffed paratha, £1.50) that I seem to have a thing for crowded countries. India, of course, has a hell of a lot of people, but it's also much smaller than China, the only comparable country in terms of population. A quick glance at Wikipedia reveals that India has 953 people per square mile, making it the 19th most densely populated country in the world (I'm ignoring all the non-sovereign territories on the grounds that they don't really count). China's millions have, in contrast, tons of room to run about: there are only 363 of them per square mile (though of course most of them are crammed in along the coast. I'm aware the point I'm making is a bit specious, but what the hell).
India is still not as crowded as the last foreign country I lived in, the Netherlands, which comes in in 16th place with 1,041 people per square mile, or the one before that, Korea, which is 12th with 1,261 (so I appear to be moving in a less-crowded direction, at least). And if you take out frankly silly countries like Monaco (I'm defining "silly" in this context as anywhere with an area of less than 100 square miles, take it or leave it) then the three of them are 14th, 11th and 9th respectively, and that still leaves in some pretty darn piddling little places like Malta. (The UK is also pretty packed, in 34th place with 660 people per square mile, sillies included).
Now I rather like peace. I have been known to enjoy and even desire my own company. I have never thought of myself as a party animal. I enjoy a bit of buzz and a place that is big enough to have an active cultural life, but am unlikely to have a panic attack if I find myself somewhere where a decaf low-fat frappuccino is not readily available. I quite frequently find the habits of my fellow man and woman infuriating, to the extent that I have been known to get off public transport (the setting for such infuriation par excellence) just so that I'll stop grinding my teeth. I'm not misanthropic, just a bit anthroposceptic from time to time.
So why have I ended up in places where getting away from people is not just difficult, it's well-nigh impossible? Answers on a postcard.
Right, I'm off to check out potential future opportunities in Mongolia (four and a half people per square mile. Sounds nice).