• 08 . 04 . 04
  • On bowing, which is to say bending at the hips. Nothing to do with violins, ties or boats.

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Everything bows here. The Japanese are known for bowing when they meet somebody, but this doesn’t go any way toward describing how often people bow. From a slight nod of the head when passing anybody in the street, to a two second bow when being introduced for the first time to bending almost double to say goodbye to your boss. If you walk into a Mister Donut for example, the shop assistants will bow and shout to you. When they have finished serving you they will bow. When you leave, they will bow again and shout at you again. Many old people I see out and about are bent almost in half and I’m not surprised. They seem to spend a large proportion of their adult life like that anyway. The newscaster bows before and after the news report. So does the weatherman. Roadworks and construction signs are pictures of workmen bowing for the inconvenience caused to you. Telephones have an animation of a woman bowing after you have made a call to thank you. Bowing becomes pretty addictive, like yawning, and you start to feel rude if you don’t bow when somebody else does. Any western sense of seeming stupid, or worries about doing it the wrong way are soon dispelled, as you begin to realise that only the rudest people don’t bow.

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