We’ve all experienced this: You pass someone on the street or in the hallway at work. One says “Hihowarya?” as we each continue to our destination. “Fine” you reply “And you?” The response to that is often “Fine and you?” We have the hihowarya? loop. It doesn’t matter though – one of us has already rounded a corner and is gone from sight. Have you ever been tempted to respond “Well, I don’t think the green spots on my body are contagious and my newly grown third arm is coming in very handy for multitasking”? Would they even hear?
Newcomers and visitors to this cultural greeting are often puzzled. You asked about my health therefore I should give you a response. You asked therefore you must be interested. Wrong.
In my ESL teaching days I wrote Hihowarya? on the board. I explained it was a standard Canadian greeting that did not require a true response. “Fine thanks and you?” was sufficient. I was often met with puzzled looks. Why ask, they wondered. I would reiterate that it was just another way of saying “Hello.” I would continue to encourage them not to stop and give a detailed account of their health as I have often seen new Canadians do.
The odd time that someone sees me, stops, looks me in the eye and asks, “Suzanne, how are you?”, and pauses for an answer causes me to see them differently. I know we can’t stop and speak to everyone we see in a day but we can at least make our greetings sound sincere.
I sincerely thank you for stopping by my blog. My wish for all is good health and happiness. I’m looking you in the eye when I say that!