Sunday, May 24, 2009

Third World Greetings

This post is about one aspect of third world culture that exists in our community in America: "saying salaam", or greeting people.

Most of our non-Caucasian parents in the community come from "back home" and we, their offspring, are the first generation of American born/raised/both in this country. So we happen to be well acquainted with how things work back home because our parents express it in the community. For the most part.

One of those things is greeting people. Most of the times at parties, we have to go make a round of greetings around the room and say "hey" to basically every older person we know. Indians have big parties with lots of people. Sometimes my mouth goes dry at the end of it.

Should you NOT do this, you and your family are up for being talked about and some people take it to heart and never talk to them properly again. I am dead serious. It's pretty lame, but it happens. First of all, why should my mom or dad get hated on for something I did, especially when I am 23, not 2? Because it's my parents fault they didn't "raise" me well. Weirdos.Oh, and there is no second. Whatev.Oh yeah, there is. DO YOU REALLY CARE IF I SAY HI. Honestly? Okay maybe they do because it's a sign of respect in the culture, but sometimes people forget and it's stupid to make a big deal out of it.

Anyways, I never did this because I HAD to. I just think it's polite to do so and rude to ignore my mom's friends. Plus, I think in Islam you should greet everyone. Like when a person walks into a room he should greet everyone. I think you can give a big hello to everyone but our culture likes to take it a step further a greet every single person...?? And the young should greet the old first, the smaller group should greet the larger group. Stuff like that. So I always do..if I can recognize them.

But sometimes there are people I've never seen before who expect me to know them. WTH?? But they know me because apparently I'm a dead ringer for my mom. So what I do when I pass someone who I don't know if I know I just walk by nonchalantly like I don't know them. Usually they catch me and say hello then I'm like, "Oh wow! I didn't see you there!" And ask about their family and stuff, while in my head I'm trying to figure out who they are. Just kidding. Promise. But it's a great backup plan. But I am usually oblivious to my surroundings and luckily, I think people know that, and catch me when I miss them.

Especially family. Oh Em Geee. Like my mom's 3rd cousin twice removed who I've seen only when I was two years old. It's so redikulus {say it how it's spelled because that's how silly it is}. I was in India at the time and some family from Australia was there. I've never seen them I don't know their names or seen pictures. Distant distant family. So I greet them..then the most hated question in the world: "DO YOU REMEMBER MY NAME?"

Way to put me on the spot. I'm pretty sure she and I and everyone in the room know how stupid that sounded so I ignored it and just smiled. Then my great-aunt was like how H-E-L-L-O is she supposed to remember you?

Have you guys experienced this? I hope I don't turn into one of those when I get old. Maybe I'm exaggerating, something else us Indians love to do.

8 comments:

Artistic Logic said...

yes i've been through that when here but also when i visited the homeland... and at my sisters wedding i was emotional/BUSY as heck... and people started saying why isn't the young one greeting everyone omg what's wrong with her so then i had to ... and at times when i'd visit mom or dad's family and didn't know who they were, but they knew me.... i felt really stupid and lame

MarjnHomer said...

lol ya I been through that. Once when i was about 10 or so my mom's first cousins came from ny to see us here and she's like do you remember me. Lady I never seen you before this day, so like you said, "so awkward." Yeah you hear stories about em but never met em. whatever!

fuelMybrain said...

I understand the whole "respect" thing, but I also understand where you're coming from... My grandmother would force us to kiss my step-greatmother when we'd leave. I didn't really know her all that well, and she was mean. I can still recall the feeling of her wrinkly, wet, prickly kiss (mustache and all)... sends shivers down my spine (bless her heart).

LiLu said...

If it's any comfort, I think we'll have totally different socially awkward problems when we're old.

No? Well, I tried...

amillionmilesfromeverywhere said...

i definitely hate it when i'm expected to remember a name or a face, b/c i'm horrible with names. but about the whole "greeting everybody individually when you enter a room" thing; my family has never really done that. when you get to a family gathering, usually a general "hey everyone!" will suffice. however, my brother's wife's family is huuuuuuge, and whenever someone shows up at family gatherings, they go to each person there, give them a kiss on the cheek and a hug, and say hello. even to me, my mom and my dad who don't really know any of them that well.

it's sweet, but a little out of my comfort zone.

lil' Hijabi said...

i know exactly wut ur talkin about...cuz i've been thru the exact same situations specially the "DO YOU KNOW MY NAME?" one lol...i think its just an indian thing...and yeh i'm indian, so i would know:)

Constructive Attitude said...

I have a hard time greeting people when i walk into the room. i dont know if anyone has ever picked up on that.

JaLpArI - tHe MeRmAiD said...

hey.. even me as in Indian living in India hate the fact that people start 'talking' if you dont wish them... and how you are expected to remember evvvveeerrryyyooonnnneeee.....
but, otherwise, i think wishing a 'salaam' or a 'namaste' isnt all that bad....i mean, well, i have been doing it from ever,.... that's not the case wid you guys.. so i cant really compare the situations...
wat i mean is.. i dont mind wishing everyone... but plz dont be hard on me in case i dont... maybe i was lost in my thots and didnt notice u... or maybe im in a bad mood...