Greetings And Farewells.

I got a phone call yesterday from a friend who had been out of touch with me for a long time. He asked me “How are you” and I answered “You don’t really want to know.” He however insisted that I tell him and we spent some time fooling each other around as old friends do when they get back in touch with each other after a long time.

How would you answer that question? The most logical one is of course to tell the asker the truth. Something like “Apart from a bit of discomfort in my lower back and flatulence, I am well. Thank you for asking.”

And after that bit of sharing of information, surely manners demands that you too ask after the “Thank you for asking.” “And how are you, if I may ask?”

Later in the evening, I got an email from him giving me a link to an article in the New York Times which has inspired this post.

Like the Russians, if you were to ask an Indian in an Indian language the same question, he too would spend a few minutes expressing his angst about the state of his health and anything else that may be bothering him at that moment. But he will be too clever by half to ever ask the question back to you. So, Indians generally simply greet each other with a Namaste, or Namaskar.

I have a lot of fun with people who ask me the question and the other variant “How do you do?” You already read my response to the first but for the latter, my answer is usually, “I haven’t done for a long time”, or “the missionary position, how do you do?”. I simply cannot bring myself to answer “I am fine thank you and you?” like I was taught by a couple who taught me how to be a gentleman a long time ago. At this late stage of my life, it does not matter if I am perceived to be an ungentleman.

Concluding a conversation is another area of some irritation for me. I would prefer a simple “good bye” or even just a “bye” or better yet, the safest “Namaste”. What I am increasingly getting is the “good bye” or “good night” followed by a “Take Care”. Coming from Indians, I find it strange to say the least. It is said so mechanically and automatically that I usually find it offensive. Am I not capable of taking care of myself otherwise? What is that bit of meaningless phrase for?

How do you react to these greetings and farewells?

46 thoughts on “Greetings And Farewells.”

  1. Someone greeted me the other day with, ” How ya doin’?

    My reply was, “Wonderful!

    After a pause, I continued, “and I lie a lot, too.”

    That got a laugh.

    Most greetings and farewells are innocuous and, for the most part, meaningless. Most people really don’t want to know how you are really feeling.
    Mike recently posted..Big Dam…

    1. Yes, that is the point that I was trying to make and it would appear that I did not succeed. Most of these phrases are innocuous and insincere because they are so automatic,

  2. Wow – I never realized what a crotchety old geezer you are. 🙂

    My usual greeting is one I picked up during my stint in Hawaii in 1986 – a simple Howzit? It’s simply another form of Hi – in the south it’s usually Hey – again another term for Hi. Also acceptable in Hawaii is the ubiquitous Aloha – which works as either hi or bye. All of this cross-cultural interaction certainly can breed confusion.

    Upon reflection I find you are not so much a crotchety old geezer but very much an affable, inquisitive curmudgeon like me with very little time for fools, though they (fools of course) can be very entertaining at times.

      1. I bet we’d all be peeved if some peoplechose never to greet us? We’d even so far asto consider them rude,, perhaps.

        1. That is an interesting way to look at social interactions. Let us go back to our school and college days. Did we greet each other all the time? I don’t recall that happening other than with your very close friends though the entire class and perhaps others from the cricket team of boy scouts or whatever also were milling around.

  3. When asked the question “How are you”? I regularly answer with “Grand!”
    It saves time when the asker has no real interest in what is going on in my life. If they really do care, all they have to do is look into my eyes.
    Grannymar recently posted..Sunday One liner ~ 24

  4. It’s a cultural thing, Ramana. When I first came to England I was puzzled – on being introduced to someone they’ll say ” How do you do”. Do what? On next meeting progression, verging on ‘familiarity’ (in their eyes): “How are you?” They don’t want to know. “Fine, thank you”. That’s polite. Even if you are dying. However, and this a BIG however if they gush “How ARE you?” you know that they already know that you have just been fired, had a miscarriage, got divorced.

    The English need a lot of reassurance that you are alright. That’s why they always offer you a cup of tea by way of diversion.

    Where I come from you only ask people how they are if you have time, patience and interest because you will get their whole medical history. Which makes speaking to old people who have lived a long time, well, time consuming. It’s one of the reasons I am so glad I stem from a very healthy family.

    Take care, Ramana. I mean it.

    Ursula recently posted..Graveyard

    1. Ursula, to respond to your last paragraph first. I seem to have spent a life time taking care of others and things animate and inanimate and am at a stage where taking care of myself comes more or less automatically. I have had so much practice! It would however be nice if some one else would take care of me for a change.

      I would also offer you a cup of tea or coffee or curry lunch if you so desired. It is quite the custom here too to offer that hospitality. I would not however expect you to hold your cup by the handle with the little finger sticking out.

  5. I generally say “Fine, thanks, and you?” Or some variant like, “Pretty good” or “can’t complain.” It’s funny because I have tried to coach whiny patients on NOT actually revealing how they are when asked this in a social setting because they drive people away with their litany of complaints. Except when asked by a very dear friend, that question is simply a social nicety, the equivalent of saying hello.
    Secret Agent Woman recently posted..Taking a break from all that work.

  6. Yes, Yes I know “Take care” can be a terrible farewell word.

    This terrible word may end up in – someone feeling so afraid that he/she wont call someone elderly… and yes dont ask me how are you? I am terrible, thank you! 😉

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