How shall I greet you.


On my way back from work today, I was wondering what do I do normally do when I meet people who are dear to me, shake hands?, smile?, do a namasthe[pressing both palms together]?, touch the feet as a mark of respect?, or just a simple hug?. Actually I was surprised myself, that I don’t do any of those, may be smile some times, mostly its just a couple of words inquiring how they are doing thats all, I never do any of the other things instinctively.

Its been our custom from long time to touch elders feet when you meet them, its a mark of respect for their experience, their age and their knowledge, elders are always superior to you and hence they should command respect. I totally agree with this concept, but then somehow its never been in practice with me, I do touch elders feet, but not instinctively, its only if the occasion demands it or someone asks me to. I don’t believe I am doing that because I want, rather I am doing it because I have to.

Shaking hands too is not a common practice, unless its really formal, I do not find shaking hands personal, and I kind of feel it makes the relationship too formal, If I shake hands with you when I meet you, you can be totally sure that I do not have any personal interest in you, its just pure formality.

Coming to doing namasthe, I think somewhere over the years this act of showing respect has just survived for the super power GOD, I do not see many people doing this, atleast not with their hands anymore. Being in this generation, its natural that I haven’t developed this one either.

That leaves me with “Hug”, so do I hug people often?, the answer is NO, I cannot get myself to hug someone comfortably. If you look at India as a whole, I feel Northern parts have practice of hugging when they meet dear ones, I think its pretty common there, as you come towards the south there is not much of hugging, Even If you take out of India, I do believe that the west and the east have this practice of greeting with a hug.

I was trying to find out what could be the reason, that I can’t get myself to hug people, the first reason that strikes me is that I never am comfortable with human touch, but then not just with opposite gender, even with my male friends, I am not so comfortable hugging, I almost can count the number of times I have hugged someone, it might be like 1/2 to 1.
There are few things which are beyond explanation, beyond logic, to me as of now, discomfort with hugging is one such.

Lately I see more people hugging their dear ones, both in same gender, and in some cases opposite gender too.

So what about you guys, how do you greet your dear ones, Do you have problems with hugs too. Really curios to know.


12 responses »

  1. I usually just smile. I hug some people but I didn’t grow up with a lot of hugging so it doesn’t come naturally. American’s tend to be more “huggy” than other cultures though. Some of us have poor personal boundaries ;o)

  2. Depends on who I’m greeting, sometimes a smile, sometimes a hug, sometimes a kiss on the cheek. I used to be very uncomfortable with physical content, but now it’s not really an issue. I guess it’s about being self conscious and overcoming it. 🙂

  3. The shift in preferred methods of greeting may be on account of avoiding the other traditions such as what Shreyasi wrote about recently e.g. touching feet of elders, saying namaste etc.

    A very interesting male way of greeting in the west is like this:

    * grab right hand to shake
    * move forward,
    * put left arm around the other person’s shoulder
    * pat twice using left palm
    * move back

    A non-sexual, perfectly sociable, informal way to greet. I also greet some men I know for many years like this. A handshake is formal; a smile not quite full-hearted. My better women friends get a hug, rest of them a slight upward nod with a raised eye-brow and smile. There! The whole 9 yards of greeting! 🙂

  4. I hug a lot. Relatives, friends…even people I have just met, if I feel a connection with them I will hug them before I leave, or they leave. I think a lot of it has to do with cultural issues…Americans as a whole are fairly touchy people, and it’s usually not customary not to hug or shake hands upon meeting or taking leave.

  5. I never really thought about this before. I’m not really a touchy feely kind of person so I don’t instinctively hug people. However, I have a lot of friends for whom that is commonplace. I guess I hug them hello just cause that’s what they look for. My family always kisses cheeks in greeting. Not my cup of tea either, but I go with the flow.

    Were it up to me (and yes, I know that in the end it is, but since I don’t really care one way or another, i just greet people the way they want to be greeted) I would just say hello and smile. That’s good enough for me.

    Shefaly Yogendra I find it interesting that you mention the typically western male way of greeting. I always thought it was a funny habit, like the men only felt good about hugging each other as long as they could beat each other at the same time. lol

  6. Interesting topic..

    I used to feel awkward about hugging people too, sometimes I still do. But now, I tend to hug atleast my female friends whenever I feel like it 🙂 Male friends, I have not get gotten to the point of being comfortable hugging them 😀

    Otherwise, a normal handshake and/or a big wide smile !!!

  7. Sorry its to lengthy to read for me …will come back !!

    I wonder why the south indians write “th” instead of “t” :X 😡

  8. @Alicia,
    Poor personal boundaries, now thats debatable 🙂

    I agree about the overcoming part. I haven’t even thought about kiss as a form of greeting 🙂

    I think I am gonna wait till I meet you to try that one 🙂

    Love that aspect of american culture, very expressive.

    @cable girl,
    totally understand what you are saying here.

    to tell you the truth, I did notice that change in you :). that was on my mind when I wrote this one ..
    Big smile, yeah you should never get rid of it..

    lengthy ha 🙂

    where did you see the Th not T here.

  9. i usually just smile but if its a friend i instantly hug ~ i am hugalicious!! i guess us canadians are pretty “huggy” too or at least some of us. it really depends on the context. so …

    if its a colleague or someone i kinda know ~ smile ..
    if i’m meeting someone new ~ handshake …
    if its someone i am friends with ~ hug …
    meeting someone i know from the blogworld ~ hug …
    i’ve just had an amazing conversation with a stranger ~ namasthe (pressing both palms together)

    though i have been known to jump up and down and smile and hug all at the same time, lol

  10. very interesting! I usually do all of it…hug friends…even kiss on cheeks, shake hand/namaste at impersonal meetings and touch feet of elders…but i have friends who are uncomfortable with touch…

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