Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The beginning.

I get a sixpack of a better than average ale from the local Kwikee Mart. The dark-skinned, dark-eyed cashier behind the counter smiles and rings up my purchase. Overpriced? Sure. But I'm appreciative of the convenience, and know that the selection is probably a chore to keep stocked. Today it's McEwan's Scotch Ale, but in the past it has been the full range of German dopplebocks, Irish stouts, American pale ales, etc. Strong fair for those who like to taste their malts-- not just catch a buzz. The fellow is Nepalese, and I really don't know how they feel, as a rule, about strong drink. In this case, however, it's clearly not an issue-- this guy's family makes many transactions involving large 40 oz. bottles full of malt liquor, and 24-pack cases full of cheap, tasteless beer. It's just business. But you wonder. In that part of the world, lots of people are Hindi, but lots too are Muslim. But isn't that area right about where Taoism kicks in, too? Hell, there's a fair number of Buddhists up there, too. Come to think of it, there's more than a few Christians running around... Shoot-- it's best not to cubby-hole people. But you wonder.

As he sacks up my sixpack and I hand him back his copy of the credit card carbon, I say "Namaste," and start to walk away.

"Excuse me? What did you say?" he asks.

"Namaste. I'm sorry. Did I mispronounce it? Isn't that the 'goodbye' and 'hello' term in Nepalese? 'Peace be with you,' or some such?" I'm feeling foolish, now, bag in hand, half turned to make my escape.

"No-- you said it right. But it means 'I bow to you.' How did you know that I'm Nepalese?" he inquires with a half grin.

"I'm not really sure." I reply, and bolt.

Now, "I bow to you" is a mighty nice thing to say, but it's just a little too formal for me to consider saying to a stranger at the market. "May peace be with you," however, is a pleasant greeting that we might all wish upon newly well-met strangers. I felt like I'd made a silly error.

But why? In my wide and thinly spread studies, I've picked up that "Namaste" is a very common salutation among folks on the SubContinent. Clearly many of them have no such compunctions. Seems to me that there's a gesture that goes along with the greeting, too. Hands together in front of the chest. All very formal.

But it doesn't translate here in north Texas, at the edge of a working class community in an urban area. I feel kind of dumb.

For the most part, when people ask me "How you doin'?" I answer them with "Better and better." It's true, of course. If my day's gone crappy, then at least I'm halfway though it, now. If I've stepped two steps into a four-step mud puddle-- I'm halfway out. Not a bad way to look on things, I don't guess. It's my own stab at optimism. Oh, I know that I'm expected to just answer "Fine," and move on, but at least I'm not punishing them with an actual account of how I'm doing. "Better and better" will suffice, and perhaps perk up their day.

"Peace be with you" is an old phase that any number of pastors that I've seen have cast upon the waters during their benedictions. I rather like it. Even when the sermon may well have reeked of fire and brimstone (not likely in any sermon I'll have sat through), the final message is one of admonishment to find peace. It's pleasant, and has also been kind of an unofficial motto. It's why I had kind of liked the meaning that I had ascribed to "namaste." Now I find that I was a little off. I don't know where I picked it up-- I've known but very few red-dot Indians, and none closely.

I don't know that I've got a lot of peace; my mind is pretty regularly stirring. But it's a nice thing to wish for, and I wish it to those I meet. That said, perhaps rendering a little more common courtesy to the person on the street is in order as well. So, in closing, I say to you, gentle reader: NAMASTE.

And you can take that however you want. :)

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24 Comments:

At Sunday, October 08, 2006 10:55:00 AM, Blogger LawDog said...

Hola, buddy!

Welcome to Blogworld.

 
At Sunday, October 08, 2006 12:46:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Sunday, October 08, 2006 12:46:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Sunday, October 08, 2006 3:36:00 PM, Blogger LawDog said...

"Literary exhibitionism" is an oxymoron.

Literature is meant to be read, to be exhibited, to be digested, discussed, and debated.

Writing exists to be read. That is its purpose in this universe.

To write something, and then to seal it up so that no-one else can read it is a grave injustice to everyone else.

 
At Sunday, October 08, 2006 5:10:00 PM, Blogger Timmeeee said...

So what is the focus of this blog going to be? Guns, politics, beer?

I certainly like your taste in beer BTW.

RE: namaste

The clerk told you the literal translation of namaste, but you will find a better definition in wiki.

It is a perfectly acceptable greeting.

 
At Sunday, October 08, 2006 6:37:00 PM, Blogger WROlsen said...

I like your writing style and any one vouched for by Law Dog has to have something good going for them.
Keep up the good writing.

 
At Sunday, October 08, 2006 9:26:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

We'll try to keep the topics focused to firearms, food, the nature of human interaction, politics until it bores me, and...
damn. It's pretty much going to be a free-for-all.

I plan to eschew sports. Sports, and needlepoint.

 
At Monday, October 09, 2006 12:11:00 AM, Blogger LogEyed Roman said...

I too enjoy your writing, and LawDog's endorsement is all I need.

I am a recovering alcoholic. I used to enjoy good beer. Sigh.

In my church, we take a moment to shake hands with everyone in reach and say, "Peace be with you." It commemorates Jesus at the Last Supper: "My peace I give you; I leave you peace." It's akward, but it's also a good icebreaker.

Sometimes when people ask how I'm doing I say, "Same as always." To some friends, I have explained that I'm quoting Luke Skywalker in "Return of the Jedi". Han Solo has just asked, "How are we doing?" "Same as always," Luke responded. "That bad, huh?" Han replies.

Welcome to the Blogosphere.

-LER

 
At Monday, October 09, 2006 6:02:00 AM, Blogger Tam said...

Well, this should be enjoyable.

:)

 
At Monday, October 09, 2006 8:22:00 AM, Blogger Randy in Arizona said...

Great Start!

I will add your Blog to my morning 'Wake up and see what is going on in Internetland' routine.

Thanks,
Randy in Arizona

 
At Monday, October 09, 2006 9:07:00 AM, Blogger HollyB said...

SnSS,
Good Goin'. I look forward to many more enjoyable reading experiences.
ESM

 
At Monday, October 09, 2006 12:17:00 PM, Blogger Hobie said...

I keep my multi-lingual trap shut. ;-D Oh, and welcome to the world of blogs and being criticized by the ignorant and inarticulate.

 
At Monday, October 09, 2006 1:29:00 PM, Blogger 95RC said...

Hi Matt,
Good writing and I like the respect involved in greeting in another persons language. And if Dawg says read your spot, wouldn't want to miss it.
RC

 
At Monday, October 09, 2006 1:47:00 PM, Blogger Cait said...

Hey Matt - it's Cait! Great introductory blog - well done. Like Randy in AZ, you're now part of my "must read" list. Looking forward to your musings...

 
At Monday, October 09, 2006 7:58:00 PM, Blogger Janean said...

Keep up the great writing! It's nice to meet you. LawDog sent me...

 
At Monday, October 09, 2006 8:25:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Thanks much, all-- any friend of LD's is a friend of mine. Come early and stay late.

More to come.

 
At Monday, October 09, 2006 8:31:00 PM, Blogger kateykakes said...

Welcome to the world of blog. :)

 
At Tuesday, October 10, 2006 11:36:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask him to show you his kukri. Then you'll know what he is.


John

 
At Tuesday, October 10, 2006 1:39:00 PM, Blogger justme said...

How do you pronounce "namaste"?

Any friend of Lawdogs has to be ok.

 
At Tuesday, October 10, 2006 9:50:00 PM, Anonymous sm said...

Well now! Look what the Pink Guerilla done dragged into the blog world.

*snicker*

Best Wishes and extend my wishes to your dad during this difficult time for him.

Steve

 
At Wednesday, October 11, 2006 10:36:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

"Ask him to show you his kukri. Then you'll know what he is."


No, I'm fairly sure he isn't Jewish...

Ohhhh... you mean his knife!


It's pronounced "Nam-a-stay" with the middle A being pronounced "ah" or "aa".

 
At Saturday, October 14, 2006 9:49:00 PM, Anonymous Huck Phinn said...

Oh, grunt!

I AM sorry, but because of your interest in a "peace be upon/with you" greeting, I am now stuck with visual and olfactory memories of full-dress hippies flashing two fingered salutes.

Nothing for it but to open another Eel River Triple Exaltation.

http://www.climaxbeer.com/

 
At Wednesday, October 18, 2006 11:03:00 AM, Anonymous Correia said...

Hey Matt,

With all of these various cool people starting blogs, I'm never going to get anything done.

-Correia

 
At Saturday, October 28, 2006 4:17:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Larry, think how I feel-- many of 'em are commenting on mine or even linking to me. How's a man to get anything done at that rate?


Huck, I look forward to finding a bottle of Eel River.
--Matt

 

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