MEET AND GREET
Living in a small town with a population of about 1,300 you greet everyone you meet on the street. A daily rhyme of rural rhythms. That greeting varies from ‘Hi’ to ‘How’s it going? Howya doing? Lovely day. Grand day,’ and on the occasional day – ‘Thank God it’s not raining’. If you meet someone who actually knows you as opposed to a random stranger, you’re likely to be greeted with – ‘How’s himself?’ I always assume they mean my Richard as the whole world knows him. If a random stranger greets me by name then I panic wondering how the hell they knew my name, or has my memory deserted me like my hearing. That’s a story for another day.
Engrossed in my gratitude prayers as I walk the hills and dales and riverside pathways in this beautiful setting, I often don’t register the greeting until the person has passed by. My apologies to you all. I’m not being snooty, just living inside my head.
Ambling along by the river at the end of this summer, – (What summer? I live in Ireland.) I stopped to chat to the man who was cutting off the tree branches overhanging the pathway. ‘Lovely dry day for your work,’ says I.
‘It would be,’ he said, ‘but the leaves are wet from yesterday’s rain and they’re drowning me sorrows.’
Maybe you should ‘leaf’ it alone’, I replied, and went on my way hoping I had brought a bright spark into his day.
Every country has its own colloquial greeting. If someone greets you with ‘Howzit’ in Cape Town they’re not asking how you are or how your zits are. It is what it is. Just a simple Hello. If perchance they do reply and say ‘befok; they’re not swearing at you, nor are you suddenly transported to Ireland where the F word is an inherent part of the culture. ‘Befok’ is just a way of telling you they’re really cool or amazing.
Living in Spain with the Irish name Orla can create some confusion as the Spanish ears hear it as ‘Hola,’ the equivalent of ‘hello.’ Even more so in Portugal where the greeting is Olá. So, think carefully before you choose a name for your baby. What is meaningful in your culture can cause confusion in others. Add body language and emotion to the mix with a variety of vocal tones and the simple ‘Hello’ can convey a wealth of different meanings. You know what I mean. The guy in the suit and the gelled hair who thinks he’s all it and eye-scans you from head to toe. His ‘Helloooo there’ makes you want to puke, preferably all over him. Adios amigo.
你好 Nǐ Hǎo’
My favourite greeting is the Chinese 你好. It’s so easy to or pronounce, but I’ll take pity on you and give you the easier version ‘nǐ hǎo’ or ‘nǐn hǎo’ which is more respectful. Spat out aggressively it may sound more like a threat than a greeting as Chinese is a tonal language with high-low pitches that may give you altitude sickness. One word can have more than one meaning depending on the tone.
Try going to gay Paree with your school French. What happened to ‘Bonjour’ or ‘Comment allez vous?’ or ‘Combien as tu?’ It’s all ‘Ça va.’ Sava to you too.
Everyone is familiar with the Italian ‘Ciao,’ and the Japanese ‘Konnichiwa’, although I prefer the informal Yā, Yō. Japanese that is, not Italian, plus it sounds like a greeting you might hear in downtown Vegas, or Harlem perhaps. Namaste although from India, has been purloined (in plain English -stolen) by the ‘bow to me’ fake-smiley herd. (Ouch! My claws are showing). You won’t hear them say – ‘Zdravstvuyte’ because they can’t pronounce it. Oh dear, I may have started the War of Greetings – and a whole new sub-culture was born!
Am I getting my tonals and vocals mixed up? Probably. As Confucius said, grand old fella of wisdom that he was:
“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.”
Wherever you are in the world just say ‘Hello.’ Surely that can’t be misconstrued or result in a deterioration of morals? My apologies to Confucius and all who know him for the mis-use of his quote. Who does that? If you’re visiting the USA do not respond to ‘Yo’, ‘What’s up?’ or ‘How are you doing today?’ with the story of your life. Just not ‘cool’. Texans are into contractions (unless you’re a female in labour), and ‘Howdy’ or ‘Howdy, y’all’ will make you many a friend. The list of greetings worldwide is varied. If in doubt just smile graciously.
No not that Twitter. Don’t you have birds where you live? I welcome the day by listening to the twittering of the birds and watching the swallows swoop through the skies. Our little garden robin greets me every day with its joyful chirping. I swear it’s having a conversation with me, nodding at me, and hopping around in circles. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could chitter-chatter like our feathered friends? A lot more lyrical than Howya or Hi.
But there’s one bird which I call the ‘Four Note Bird,’ whose song irritates me. It could be five notes but by the time it’s finished I’m too stressed to count. How ridiculous that I get annoyed by bird-song, even if it’s not of the operatic kind. Sitting by the Arizona Canal in Scottsdale, Arizona, a fair few miles from Ireland, I heard it again. Nooooooo! Not possible. The heat is making me hallucinate. But sure enough it trills or tweets again and again and again. And amazingly it doesn’t have an Irish accent. I’ve never seen it so I have no idea what it looks like. I’m sure some bright spark out there will tell me what it is.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
If you are deaf like I am and your hearing aid is as much use as an umbrella in gale force winds, then please do not go into a long discourse about the weather, or the state of the country, or how grand the day is. Chances are I’ll mishear you and my reply will make you wonder why I’m so rude. The COVID-19-masked-mouths make it even more difficult as I can no longer lipread. Keep it simple. Say HELLO or HI. No need to shout. It does not help.
I was taught this little verse when I was a child.
Bow to you
Bow to me
Bow to all the family
Bow to mommy – daddy too
Bow and say – How do you do?
So, I’ll leave you in peace for another week and before you know it we’ll all be saying Happy Xmas or Happy Holidays and hopefully be COVID-19 free at the end of 2021. As I complete my blog I set my clock to remind me there are only 348 days 15 hours 16 minutes and 36 seconds to Xmas 2021.
I have written two novels available on Amazon