I don’t exactly remember the first time it happened, but I do remember how I felt. Confused, perplexed, awkward – the same that I feel each time I am in a similar situation. You see their mouth curving into a smile, their eyes widening,them coming closer and leaning in…
Even after living in Europe for more than 4 years now and being in such confusing situations for at least 3 years, I only have one major question each time it happens –
How many times should I kiss you on the cheek to greet you?
Seriously. I don’t know what you were thinking, but I was talking about the feeling you have when someone comes closer to greet you. Firstly, are we hugging or kissing?Secondly, what sort of a kiss is it? Thirdly, do I stop at 2 or move on to 3? Trust me, it’s way too awkward if you stop at 2 while the other person moves on to the third..or vice-versa.
The thing with cheek kisses is, some cultures love it and some hate it. Some like it at 2 and some like it as 3..always..even if you see the person every single day!
A friend of mine was telling me how they end up spending 15 minutes everyday kissing everyone when they arrive for work. She works in France, and it is really rude to not kiss and greet, apparently. Again, maybe it doesn’t hold true for all regions,but for a large majority of people, it does. Strangely, if you just cross the border and move into Switzerland or Germany, people might not entertain this form of greeting. In fact, several German friends of mine have expressed their absolute hatred towards kissing on the cheek to greet someone! They find it too personal and unnecessary. A hand shake would just serve the purpose well enough.Perhaps, hugs and kisses are reserved more for really close friends?
Another point of concern is:which cheek do you kiss first? In some countries, you kiss on the right cheek first and in the others, on the left. Interestingly, there are some theories as well as stories behind these traditions. For instance, one of the stories says that the double kiss in a traditional Italian household meant reassurance of the fact that they were there for each other. Hugs and kisses undoubtedly bring people closer, make them more comfortable and symbolize openness, trust as well as friendship.I came across an interesting research paper about hugging, and in case you are interested, you can check it out too. It’s incredible as to how each posture and action of ours portrays a different meaning!
For me personally, I have been used to hugging friends when I meet them, and subconsciously did the same after moving to Europe..except it would turn really awkward if the person instead left a peck on one cheek first, and then the other. Sometimes, I would realize it just in time and do the same..standing still after the second one while the other would continue for the third!
To help myself and hopefully a lot of you too, I have started collecting info for the right way to greet people across different countries, and will publish a post soon on my travel blog-Europe Diaries. I hope that it will ease out the awkwardness a bit or at least give us a heads up as to what to expect! If you have any suggestions regarding your home or current location, please do let me know and I shall add it in the post.
Thanks for being here!Really appreciate you hanging out with me virtually:)
When I came to Germany, I used to be quite amused seeing vegetables and fruits sold at thrice the normal price, being fancily labelled as “Bio” to set them apart. I met some freakish people, who would be hell bent upon only buying “Bio” products and some who would shrink away from the sight of these products to save their pockets! I soon found out that Germany was amongst the “organic”-crazy nations (with the second largest organic market in the world) and had people going the extra mile to make sure they were consuming natural food products. This really set me thinking about the authenticity of these superior products and I decided to find out all that I could, in order to help me compile a story for Gloobbi.
I wanted to get personal opinions of people I knew (and who they knew!) and thus, created a survey on SurveyMonkey .It wasn’t a targeted audience and the respondents consisted of my friends/relatives/colleagues/acquaintances/friends and colleagues of friends, spread across Europe,India,USA,Singapore and Australia. (Thanks to all of you once again!)Although my article wasn’t based on this survey, I just wanted to get an idea of the issues confronted by people in their daily life.
The results that were recorded were quite surprising and I thought of sharing them with all of you.
Whilst the majority of the respondents believed that organic products were undoubtedly healthier than their ordinary counterparts, a big fraction of my survey takers admitted that they were not quite sure about it!Majority of them seemed to rarely visit an exclusively organic supermarket, and were least likely to particularly buy organic food products in a regular supermarket. Of course, there were those who believed that going organic was better for the community and the environment, and that it was much better than knowingly being exposed to pesticides in food. That the Bio vegetables tasted better was only supported by a few, and I personally don’t feel it might be really true (neither do numerous scientific studies).
When asked about their biggest concerns about organic food, the most popular one was the obvious choice – the HUGE difference in price.But, besides that, a lot of people expressed their concerns over the fact that these products might not be completely natural and that they were not sure of the conditions in which these fruits/vegetables were grown.
Now, it so happens that official inspection bodies follow a strict set of guidelines before certifying any produce as organic. Soil fertility, animal welfare, water conservation are some of the objectives that organic farming strives to meet.Plants are supposed to be grown only using natural fertilizers and animals are to be kept in good conditions, with absolutely no application of hormonal injections. So, if a product carries the EU or USDA label, for instance, these products are expected to have satisfied all the conditions to be certified as “organic”. When it comes to lesser known labels, that is when people might get confused and question its authenticity.
As I mentioned in my article, I came across two studies carried out at Stanford and ‘American Academy of Pediatrics’, respectively , which revealed that there was not much difference between organic and ordinary food in terms of the vitamin content while phosphorus was the only nutrient having higher concentration in the former. The latter even advised parents not to buy organic milk for children, as normal milk was not seen to be affected by the hormonal injections given to cows and there was no difference in the protein or fat content otherwise.
An extremely interesting study in the ‘Social Psychology & Personality’ pointed out that the regular organic food consumers tended towards thinking that they had a leverage over others and thus, had a tendency to carry out lesser altruistic deeds than their ordinary counterparts in the long run!
Well, that was quite some food for thought. I would just like to end this story here by quickly pointing out that perhaps, the most important global concern at this point should be battling the impending food shortage which will be eminent by 2050( as published in a study this month). While usage of GMO’s is being advocated by many scientists , a lot of opposition has been seen in the last few years from many countries in the EU. Maybe it is time to think over the best way to feed the (exponentially?) growing population and decide for the common benefit of all.This is a different issue though and I think I might just continue this topic on another post!