Thursday, October 11, 2018


There's sort of charming thing that Muslims do here in Indonesia. I don't know, maybe Muslims everywhere do it. When a child, or a young man or young woman, greets an adult male, they will take your hand in their right hand and, bowing slightly, press the back of your hand to their forehead, communicating thus their respect or honor. It's always a bit of a surprise to a westerner, as we are used to just having a handshake (if we are acknowledged at all, that is). Indonesian parents take care to instill this custom in their youngsters. Similarly, the Balinese custom is to press the palms together in front of the breast, like a prayer position, and bow slightly. This is done even in casual meetings, such as when you step up to the cashier in a supermarket. There's something to be said for these polite gestures, I reckon. It makes one feel more genuinely, or more fully acknowledged. There is a graciousness among Asians in general that we are lacking these days in western culture, especially with respect to older people (such as myself). There is also the respectful application of a title, as I've mentioned before (Pak, Tuan, Om, and so on). These are like 'Sir', only with a warmer feeling. Together, these gestures impart a simple feeling of interpersonal connectedness. I find it refreshing and endearing. 

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