Thursday, September 8, 2011

Re-learning to greet

I was in unbearable stomach pain and walked into consult a doctor while in Kenya. As soon as I went I said "Hi Doctor, I had been having a stomach pain from morning", the doctor paused, smiled and said "Good Morning, I am Dr. so and so and nice to meet you and may I know your good name please". I was caught completely off guard, I cringed in shame at my own behavior. It just clicked to me how important was it to greet the person properly in that culture.

The real reason I cringed was since I realized how over the years I had stopped practicing the good habits that was thought at school while I was a child. We were trained to greet people with a big smile and a big salutation of Good Morning/Afternoon or Evening. The rule was that we had to greet people loud and clear. It always gave you a pleasant start to the day, it was an additional boost of energy. Unfortunately over the years it has all eroded and I had become a typical Sri Lankan.

I always realize how unpleasant I had become when I travel abroad. It might be at a lift, bus, office, train, restaurant  or at a super market they greet you warmly. In Singapore its almost a sin to get in to the bus without greeting the bus driver. Where as here I would probably seldom would have even seen the face of the driver or even the conductor. After thinking about this yesterday night today I woke up and decided I am going to start the day by being pleasant and greet who ever I come across. So I started off from home and got in to the bus, greeted the bus conductor with a big smile and said "good morning". He turned and said, "mahathaya maru salli deela issarata yanna" ( Sir, give change and go to the front ), I gave him 20/= he said " eka parak kiwwa nae, maru salli nae, issarata yanna " ( I told you once, I don't have change so now move on the front ) and then I never got the balance. Although I failed today I am planning to try this again tomorrow and see, what will be the reaction.


  1. Not to discourage you, but I'd be really surprised if you get more than a 'are you crazy?' type of look from a bus conductor. :-)

  2. seems like I should have taken your word on this:(

  3. Dunno..we really don't have a colloqual term for sorry or good morning right? Subha Udaasanak and samaawanna sounds so....hard :/ haha. good try though!!

  4. now given up trying it..after 3 days I thought enough is enough, let me too go with the crowd.