Ways to say ‘hello’

Maya says Hello in Arabic (Peace be on you)


There’s lots of ways of saying ‘ hello’ out here in the Middle East. Some formal, some informal, some for particular times of the day, some depending on whether a male, female, stranger or friend is addressed. Sometimes a bit confusing. One of the nice things, is that there is usually a response and often a type of blessing back. One Arabic phrase ‘nice to see you’ which literally means ‘happy chance’ has the response ‘I am happier’.

Apparently (courtesy of Fuzz Kitto) ‘hello’ in indigenous American Sioux means ‘I see you’. Not in any threatening way……it acknowledges that the two people are present together face to face. Not quite the same on social media I guess. The response means ‘It is good to be seen’. Now that’s an interesting thought. Yep, I can see you……but isn’t it ‘good to be seen’? Some folk of course are seen rather too much (I think here of the vacuous state of ‘reality TV stars’ – but maybe even they need to be seen for a reason). But what about those on the margins, the street beggar outside M&S, those queuing at the food banks and the Salvation Army hostel, the Big Issue seller……? Surely for them it is even more ‘good to be seen’.

Thinking about this idea all day, whilst I walked and taxied around Cairo using my poor Arabic I have made the point of stopping, and saying ‘hello’ in a more deliberate way. Shaking hands with street cleaners outside the guesthouse, acknowledging security guys outside the refugee registration hall, jabbering away to the taxi driver about the state of the cars until we were both laughing and it was a shame to get to the destination (neither of us understood a word each other was saying by the way), almost high fiving (something I never do!) the whole staff as I left Beano’s for serving me a coffee. Much nonsense. But guess what? I felt my ‘hello’ meant something, and hopefully for those guys, it was good to be seen.

Over to you dear reader, to translate.

I see you.
It is good to be seen.
Peace be on you.


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