According to a saying well known by some and less known by others “Every land has its own law.”
Like it or hate it our entire life gets to be governed by laws, ancient or newly installed ones, written or unwritten ones, yet nevertheless laws which we make for ourselves and the ones close to us, laws for the others, laws…And thus we get to some long discussions about what gets to be considered normal or abnormal, strange, weird, odd and all the more bizarre…to us, those who did not get accustomed or familiar with a certain law governing a certain place in this planet of ours. We land on a certain territory and we get to discover at times a whole different manner of approaching life, a manner which we may happen to find awkward or funny or perhaps uninteresting, failing to fall within our area of interest.
Travel means discovery: discovery of new places, new cultures and certainly new customs and many times bumping into some unwritten laws, laws which get to be part of a people’s culture. And since Lao Tzu was the one who said that “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step” I shall begin my journey or custom adventure just now. I may land on some completely strange, bizarre in fact lands, yet one should perhaps welcome everything with the words once uttered by Tori Amos “I am too wacky for most weirdos. Who am I to judge?”
So I shall start my journey around the world of customs and etiquette, yet customs and etiquette not coming from cosmos but very much alive and making some people’s life by quoting Donald Rumsfeld who once said that: “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
In which category do these things fall? I let you decide! And since every new place welcomes us in its own sometimes unforgettable manner we shall better see how certain areas of this planet are about to welcome you once you reached those lands…The world almost never ceased being a weird place and this certainly gets to be proved by looking in the yard of other people. And as you keep looking, being animated by an almost scorching curiosity you may be able to discover some very unique greeting ways. Thus, if your steps or plane take you to the distant places of Greenland wishing to find out more about the way of life of the Eskimos, then you are supposed to as well be introduced to a warm kunik. Contrary to what many of you may think this gets to be no warm welcome beverage but just a way of showing one’s affection by means of a simple greeting. Some clues here: when wishing to “kunik” one, feel free to have some contact with the other person or persons involved in the salute. I tell you this because as far as I managed to hear myself, this salute involves partly the lips and mostly the nose, both of these entering into contact with the other’s skin. On condition that things do not get too icy and you do not happen to wish to have some free space around you, space which shall remain out of the touch of welcoming crowds being what many would call an intimate area…then a kunik in Greenland may make you feel really loved or welcomed as the case may be…
On the ground of welcomes there comes one from the entitled “Dark Continent”, from the far Kenya, this time a welcome bringing in some dance meant to welcome your presence on Kenyan lands. The performers of this nevertheless amazing dance get to be the Maasai people. You may either be enchanted by their jumps and by their dance or you may end up considering them strange to the least. And perhaps to many they are, yet as strange as their customs may be they also happen to be nevertheless interesting and captivating. Jumping around in a welcome dance may make one’s day and bring the smile on one’s otherwise grumpy face…And if a dance is all that makes the welcome, you may feel yourself lucky. Especially when considering the fact that you may as well be welcomed with a scary mixture of blood and milk. Quite a yummy welcoming!
Our adventure into the world of strange welcomes may as well teach us that what we have once been taught to be wrong for us may prove to be right for others. Such happens to be the case of the welcoming salute you may receive once you land in Tibet. Before rushing in to think that a person poking out his tongue does not know his manners, think twice! It may be just a way to welcome you! Contrary to what many may think, I happen to find this welcoming manner deliciously intriguing and up to a certain extent even funny. Once a way by which they could prove that they had nothing evil in themselves…poking one’s tongue out nowadays when in Tibet gets to be just a way of saying hello.
And as you travel around the world you may as well get to be introduced to other strange welcomes as well, welcomes which may require some rubbing of noses like that of the traditional Maori carrying on with their lives in the neighbors of New Zealand or some more intimate and personal contact…as the case may be. As horrified, intrigued or amused you may happen to be after witnessing and being part of all these welcomes you’ll certainly have some stories to further tell to those who remained at home.
And when you think that this gets to be just a tiny, tiny sample of what the world has to offer to its travelers and of the many intriguing customs making our travels all the more captivating…you certainly feel like putting your saddle on a horse or a camel or a more modern plane and start the ride across entire continents, each time welcoming it in a new way!11