How do I greet thee? Let me count the ways

Windmills II

Sure, there's the ordinary handshake. Then there's the hug. My family's not very touchy-feely, in fine Asian tradition, so I never really got the hang of hugging someone till I went to university in the US. It's become pretty commonplace now in Singapore to hug family and friends (or at least, friends of a certain generation), but that doesn't mean it's as straightforward as it seems.

Because there's the generic American-style hug, which can be as teddy-bearish as you like depending on how warmly you feel towards the person you're hugging.

But then there's also the French-style double air-kiss, which is the norm among some of my clients and friends from Europe or Montreal. Sometimes I forget and go in for a regular hug, then have to backtrack to this.

And then last night there was a belated-birthday kiss-on-the-cheek from a friend who usually bestows a hug. This had me confused for a split-second, wondering if I had crossed wires and misread the cue for a double air-kiss.

And then a few weeks ago, there was the unexpected buss-on-the-forehead from a friend, which was a peculiarly fatherly gesture to receive from someone who's about the same age as me.

All of which goes to show that while greetings might be predictable in most countries, when you live in a place as mixed-up as Singapore, you never know what you might get.



At 4/07/2009 12:48 am , Blogger Dot said...

I will never get it! We should all just do the Vulcan salute for uniformity.

At 4/07/2009 2:00 pm , Blogger Tym said...

Hey, I didn't blog about handshakes, okay? Also got many varieties: limp, firm, bone-crushing, vaguely-interested, reluctant, etc.

Also, I can only do the Vulcan salute with my left hand. The fingers on my right hand refuse to cooperate --- which is odd 'cause I'm right-handed!


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