Agam's Gecko
Sunday, May 28, 2006

here are some changes to the menu column which I haven't yet noted specifically, mainly cleaning out a few defunct sites and adding some great new ones. You should particularly check out one of my newest favourites, Blue Crab Boulevard, whose author Gaius Arbo consistently finds some pretty cool stories and links. And I shall wai him again today, this time for noticing our find of Dr. Wang Wenyi's Press Club speech, and for reminding me to explain, "Why do we wai?"

That's something I've been meaning to do for a while, and it's now illustrated with short explanation added to the menu bar as well. I'll elaborate a little bit here, lest readers think the wai is only for ritual occasions such as wai khru. Not at all. The wai is the common, everyday greeting which would be used on any occasion that a "westerner" might shake hands, only more so. Not just formal introductions (of the kind where handshakes are usual procedure), but for instance, meeting a friend after not seeing him since yesterday, and yet again when you say goodbye. A wai also has great range -- you can spot someone you know across a crowded room and exchange a wai. Or even with a friend you see on the opposite sidewalk, across 6 lanes of insanely dangerous traffic. Wai's like this are more like a friendly wave, without the head bow we see with the more ritualised wai of the nak muay Thai at right. Efficient, effective at great distance, and it's hygenic too!

But the wai is also used to say "thanks" -- and this is of course its purpose here. If someone gives you something nice, even a compliment or offer of help with something, it's entirely appropriate to respond with a wai, and no need for it to be a serious, solemn thing by any means. It may look like "praying hands," but it can carry an air of playfulness, or solemnity, and anything in between.

So since I don't wear a stetson, or a bowler (or a fedora, if you're Roger L. Simon) with which to "tip," our acknowledgement to fellow bloggers is done with a respectful, but playful wai. And that's why.

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