21 October, 2008

Kissy people

I did not come from a family of kissy people. When we greet each other or bid farewell, a simple "hello" or "bye" will do. It is simply not our way (or is it just me?) to passionately express ourselves. I can't even remember the first hug my mother gave me. Maybe it was when I left for college?

Since I moved to the United States in my youth, I've had to climatize myself to a whole host of new embraces. Women squeal with delight when hugging each other; men bump chests, high five each other, or slap each other's gluteus maximus after scoring an especially thrilling touchdown or hitting a home run.

Because I've made a number of French friends in the past few years, I've had to get use to kissing. Don't get me wrong, it is lovely to receive kisses from French girls. We've kept it simple with just a small peck on each cheek. But I'm also told that in France, it could upgrade to three or even four kisses depending on the region. I look forward to sorting out that mystery when I get there.

My most awkward moment - dinner with a group of South Asian Muslims at their home in Portland, Oregon.

It started out as a business meeting because they disagreed with the Israel policy of a certain Congressman I worked for. After being on the receiving end of their anger for over an hour, they rolled out a luxurious dinner and invited me to stay. During the meal they were warm, kind, and wanted to know everything about my interests, my background, and my family's health. However, when they introduced their wives and daughters to me before the meal started, I idiotically extended my hand to greet them.


At least they invited me to return to join them in the annual Intel vs. Microsoft cricket match - mind you with tea and not pints (there's another questions - how does one sit through a cricket match without a few pints or a flask?).

Argentina is constantly on my mind now. As I struggle to stay awake at the office or do my school work, I remind myself the freedom I have to gain next year.

I wonder what new cultural adventures I'll have next year?


Quickroute said...

Better get used to the kissy thing for Argentina - It's everywhere!

Teens kissing in the park
Greetings - kiss kiss

TCL said...


I'm good with the kiss hello part. The French are easy, just a kiss on each side. But South Americans do just one. How to you sort out the two way traffic? Are there a lot of Polish standoffs in midair as greeters work to decide the proper side to exchange hellos? At least the Maoris just press their noses together.

Quickroute said...

Depends on where you go in South America. Paraguay for example do two kisses - 1 each side. Here it's one - veer left so you kiss the persons right cheek. If you know the person and it's a guy you kiss (which is hard for a gringo to get used to) - if you don't know them well then you just shake hands.

TrUlster said...

As the man said, in Argentina the guys also kiss eachother, which was a bit of a culture shock for this cold Scandinavian.

In fact will be back in Bs As myself from January onwards for some months... great city, well Taipei ain't bad either!

TCL said...


A bit of a shock for me as well. But when in Rome ....

Taipei is very enjoyable in that chaotic way. Lovely city. The east coast of Taiwan is great as well.

I guess both of us will be in BsAs in January. Perhaps we can meet for drinks and swap some travel stories.

Baino said...

Strange all this kissing business. I remember being in Thailand thinking there were a lot of gays but it's quite the thing to see young boys holding hands! Firm handshakes in OZ! G'day Mate and a slap on the arm sort of stuff! Our blokes won't have any of that cheek slobberin'! Girls on the other hand are full of the faux smooch!

TCL said...

It's not the Thai boys one has to worry about. It's talking to a kathoey only to find out about her/his status later. But it seems to be an accepted part of Thai culture and makes the place that much more colorful.