Monday, July 5, 2010

Smile costs nothing

If there is one thing that people all over the world have in common, understand and reciprocate, irrespective of where they are from, what color their skin is, which God they worship, which language they speak – SMILE. This simple gesture is so versatile that it could convey anything from a polite ‘hello’ to a naughty ‘How you doin’?’ to a shy ‘Excuse me’. It amazes me as to how so many of us have forgotten to smile or greet another person when we meet. If you ask, “Why in the hell in should I smile at a person I have never met earlier?” it means you have forgotten the very fact that you are a human being and you are the only species to have been blessed with the power and capacity to smile at others. Put it to good use.

I am on a trip to the Netherlands now and I had a transit at Istanbul for a few hours before I could catch my flight to Amsterdam. I do not speak Dutch or Turkish. But language will never be your concern if only you knew how to smile at people. Being friendly has got nothing to do with knowing the language. Sitting across me is a middle-aged lady with eyes the color of the Sea. She is very pretty for her age. I don’t have to go and tell her she is looking very good. A smile would do. Next time you are asking for change in a shop, do it with a smile on your face. Don’t worry if the smile is not reciprocated. It just means that the person you thought was human was not that human, after all.

If you forget to smile for some reason, trust me, you would end up looking like a severely constipated gorilla; like the guy sitting opposite to me just did. May be you are not happy about something, may be you fought with your girlfriend/boyfriend, may be your boss shouted at you (which boss doesn’t is another story), may be you ARE constipated – but you cannot expect the others to understand your problems. You are expected to be friendly by default. An angry face and a dull response is enough to turn away people from you.

It is perfectly ok to think I have gone crazy. It is perfectly ok because there is absolutely nothing interesting about this post (as if my other posts were interesting, duh…). This one got a little too preachy. But I had to write it because I am seeing in front of me a person who looks like smiling is taking too much of his time and energy. It irritates and frustrates me; but maybe I shouldn’t expect him to smile. Whatever… But sitting in an international airport and exclaiming, “Everyone is sooooo white here!” is a little too much by anyone’s standards, don’t you think?

Ok, there you go! I cribbed, yet again. But when two people who are worlds apart in thought and taste are forced to travel together such things tend to happen. I only hope the objective of travel (which is learning, basically) is achieved. Meanwhile I will continue my ‘smile’ campaign when I meet new people (I am going to meet a lot of them) over the next two weeks and silently continue to thank Appa for giving me the interest and the encouragement to read about other cultures and making me a friendly person.

Ok, now I am going to have to stop being such a preachy pain in the you-know-what. And keep smiling, people! Even if you are called ‘Illicha vaai’ by your friends, it’s ok. ‘Illicha vaai’-ngaradhu ellam oru thittoda setha? Pona vaaram un machan unna eppidi thittinaannu yosichu paaru ;) Oh, I miss talking in Tamizh already.

I am also writing a travelogue (in a diary, because I enjoy writing with pen and paper) – I am not really sure how interesting it will be. So I am not posting it. Or may be I should?


  1. wow!! The gal is going international now..!!

    Dead sure, the woman with that ocean coloured eye was pretty indeed. Why not for a change wear a T.shirt which reads, "Hugs for Free..."

    Good luck buddy!! BTW, I've changed from the 'Blue n White' to the Oranje!!!

  2. Schipol airport in Amsterdam is my fav airport in this entire world ... your post just made me nostalgic as to how many times i wud have sat in that lounge and waited for my next flight.

    Me jealous after reading this post, enakkum ippo ve Amsterdam poganum :(

  3. Smile is not something which comes natural to us Indians when we see a stranger. Its kind of how we are brought up I feel. Its different in US though where people greet each other whether they know them or not. Even here there are a few who don't. There are various reasons for the same, which I don't want to dvelve on at the moment :).

    But its a nice attitude to have I feel. I have learnt a lot when I came here to the US about 8 years back and it now annoys me when people who have been here for a long time (us Indians) also don't smile at you in the mall or any other place. Anyways nice post once again. I try to smile at them but most of the times look stupid smiling at myself :(

    Enjoy your stay in Ned and have a great time!!

  4. I'd like to read the travelogue ;-)
    How's it in Roosendaal at the moment ?


  5. @Dhinu
    I know... It was crazy here on the semi-final match day. I am being true to the nation that is my home now! :)

    Schiphol was awesome. I ran around the airport to encash my Traveller's Cheques and got to see the whole of it. It was amazing!!!

    I think it is nice to smile/greet the people you meet. We Indians are brought up to stay away from strangers! Anyways, I don't care about whether the other person smiles back at you or not. :) Keep the smile campaign going.

    Glad to see your comment here! :)
    Roosendaal was great yesterday. Got a tour of the warehouse.
    Will post the travelogue soon!

  6. Sandy,I jus stumbled on ur blog. Nice write. Smile is a universal language and its infectious too.

  7. I like it. I exactly know how you're practicing this as a religion :P

    If you hadn't smiled all those times....

    ~ Vj


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