Tuesday, March 23, 2004


The traditional form of Indian Greeting is to fold hands, bow just a little and say Namaste or Namaskar to the person being greeted. The word Namaste means - I bow to the divine within you. This is a true reflection of the Indian ethos that strives to look beyond appearances and superficiality. The Indian Philosophy holds all creation a manifestation of divinity as opposed to seeing the creator as an entity separate from the created. Thus all creation including human reflect divinity and are worthy of worship. Ergo, the Namaste.

The Namaste has other practical purposes as well, which I have just recently started to fathom. Lately many Indians have shown an increasing inclination towards shaking hands favouring it over Namaste which they considered a outdated mode of greeting. The Indian Genius has adapted the Handshake to their own local conditions and the fauna abounds with multiple species of Indian Handshakers, some of whom I introduce here:

The Chronic Shaker: This is usually a diminutive and docile creature given to the habit of shaking your hand everytime you meet him even if it is within minutes of the previous shake. Hiding hands doesn't help, because our chronic shaker thinks nothing of going behind you and shaking your hand there.

The Bone Crusher: Usually a big alpha-male who likes to leave a big impression on you and your fingers. Keep Away. We have one on the prowl in this building.

The Bombay Repeater: This species' home habitat is Aamchi Mumbai but has migrated all over. The specialty of this species is repeated short shakes after each sentence followed by a giggle-type laugh. I used to find it very disconcerting when I started my career in Bombay. This species is also given to making tasteless jokes often at the victims expense.

The Banana Peal: Sweaty Palms that envelop your hand like a Banana Peal. Ewwwww. It is often hard to resist the temptation of wiping your hand on your trousers after such an encounter.

The Palm Hoarder: This species will insist on maintaining a grip on your palm and periodically shaking it during the entire course of conversation. Extremely surreal experience.

The Flying Dutchman: Always in a hurry. Shall extend tentacle like hand from afar to touch your hand by the finger tips before scurrying away. Safe.

The Suspicious Freak: Shall inspect his hand very carefully after every shake as if expecting the lines in the hand to have changed following the encounter.

The Great Indian thinkers of yore must have considered these situations and found an effective remedy in the humble Namaste. My Namaste to them.

I wrote this blog following discussion with my friend at lunch, where an chance encounter with a Flying Dutchman set me thinking and telling her my theories. By the time I got to Banana Peal she said "Ewwww. Gross. Write it, I will read it." Hence this blog.

1 comment:

Raja Purkayastha said...

Very nice post .... nice observations and manifestations. Keep on writing .... I would love to see more .... Cheers, Raja