Next time you meet someone from China. Say "Nihao". That means a bloody "Hi". Same thing as apna "Namaste". These slanted eyes fellows say more of Nihaos than you and I say Namaste and have a tendency to greet a lot. Well, its a lot different from the kind of greetings that you get in western countries. But in any case, for a pucca hard bred indian like me, the greetings count goes through the roof.
Last time I was in China, it was at Shanghai. Its beautiful city etc. etc. Lets not talk about beauty of the city. Okay? So after I landed here I went straight into a chinese(what else?) restaraunt because I was mighty hungry after my flight. The chinese torture began there and then.
"Nihao" said the girl at the door.
"Uh, okay I understand that. Thank you."
Now what was that? I said thank you, and then she said thank you. Now what next? Could I go in or not, because it was late at night and I had doubts if that restaurant was allowing people in? Can you please not greet me and tell me where to sit? I thought.
And besides I was trying hard not to have a crush on her as well. Chinese people making things really difficult for me.
So I decided to walk in , thinking that if this babe wanted me not to go ahead she would say so. She didn't. So my very sharp mind decided to think two things at one shot. One, that the restaurant was open. And second, to think that she likes me as well. Okay , control? We are not talking about crushes here as well, right?
So I had this chinky noodle with chopsticks which was mighty hard. And after I paid for the half-eaten dinner came the onslaught of greetings as I walked out. The attack began when I paid another waitress.
"Thank you.", she said.
"Pls come again."
"Sure. My hotel is nearby."
I hadn't quite even start walking when she bye-byed me. At least wait for me to turn back, lady. I didn't like that last bye-bye. She was too eager to greet me away or what.
And when I reached the door of the restaraunt, came that same babe who had received me in the first place. She led the second onslaught.
"Bye bye.", she said.
Abbey ruk jaa yaar. Kitna bolegi!
Three greetings in three steps was too much. I decided that the onus was on me to stop this. So I didn't say anything to her and just walked ahead. Man, I still like to think that she wanted me to turn back and say "See you" or something to her. DDLJ style kind. Oh, these unfulfilled crushes are a terrible thing. Anyway. That was that from the restaraunt. But I kind of decided to conclude after that the English words are quite limited in Chinese conversations , therefore that babe was basically showing off her extra or so command over the language to her colleagues.
But Chinese had sensed that I was in their country. I think somebody must have telecast on the Chinese channels that I was inside their homeland and so all of them got together and decided to really greet the jeebers out of me. I would come across strangers on the street later who would randomly say " Helllllooooooo!", kids would leave their moms to run up and tug me and say " Heellloooo!" , and if my mistake I did respond to one of the hellos by saying a hello then the whole line of onlookers would make sure that they Helllloooooo-ed me as I walked by. Everybody was attacking, man. They didn't want to give up the chance of using English. I was their best non-edible guinea pig , instantly available.
So I decided to pick-up the Chinese greeting, Nihao. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Now I respond to random Hellllooos by a Nihao. That cools things a little because there is nothing extraordinary about using Chinese in China.
But I still do get a good extra share of Welcomes, See yous, Helllloooos, and bye-byes.
I hope someday I grow some slanted eyes so that they think that I am one of them and greet me a little less. Until then, I shall use Nihao which helps me show off a bit of Chinese back to them.
Make sure you do too, when you get to this wonderfully hospitable China.