I know I havent posted for a long long time and I am extremely sorry for it. Took me a while to open my eyes to the American Dream. Fast cars, plush houses and big tomatoes ;-). Yeah! these are the things that amaze us desis when we set foot here, though not necessarily in that order. Another thing that takes us a while to catch on to is the American way of exchanging pleasanteries. You walk into office, a gas station, a convenience store or a bank and there will be people who will smile at you and say "Hey, how are you doing today?". Thats kind of very difficult to adjust to because back home when people see you somewhere they try and look through you or give you a look that says "Dont even think about smiling at me!". Well thats us, but what can we do about it. Since childhood our parents teach us to not talk with strangers, some even going to such lengths as making up weird stories like "you know Chatterjee aunty's son just smiled at a guy in the bus and the guy kidnapped the little boy and sold him to a Dubai sheikh. Now her son is in Dubai racing camels". Well that kind of gets in your head and you start thinking about all the bad things about racing camels for a sheikh in Dubai, and decide that not smiling at people is definitely easier than racing camels.
So, given your aversion to conversation with strangers and possibly to the entire humanity, what do you do when a person walks up to you and says "Hello how are you doing today?". There are just two options to deal with such kind of behaviour. You could try and look busy like a guy who has just lost his shadow and is trying hard to find it. Or you could muster a radiant smile and say "Im doing good and how are you today?".That in all fairness is the better of the two options, the other option being beyond the pale of civilised behaviour. But it comes with a catch. Now that you have started responding to others, wouldnt it be more civilized to start the exchange of pleasanteries yourself. After all its a proactives world. Be a go-getter dude. So you see a guy in office coming towards you, look hopefully at him, put on a 1000 watt smile and start to form words in your mouth when he whizzes past you like Daffy Duck with his arse on fire. You are bewildered. After all, wasnt he supposed to anticipate what was coming. There my friend lies the catch. People exchange pleasanteries but not always. Mornings are the time when people are at their civil best. Enter any American office in the mornings and you are sure to hear pleasanteries richocheting like bullets. But as the day wears on people start losing their perky edge. The next phase starts in the lunch queue. "hey how you doin today. Can I have a crispy chicken burger please?". And no better way to end a 'pleasant' day than a warm sionara in the evenings. Also washrooms are the worst places to exchange greetings. After all one has to answer the call of nature before he can take your call. Well its not too difficult. Once you learn the game, you play by the rules.