Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bonjour, Ciao, Nĭ Hăo, Hello… walks and manners…

White Beach, the Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
I have just returned from a lovely walk along the beautiful Swan River foreshore near my home. It’s Wednesday morning, with bright sunshine and lots of people taking advantage of the autumn (fall) warmth to walk with their dogs.

My two little dogs, Ruby and Cindy, firmly believe that the foreshore is their territory. They bark with excitement, sniff all newcomers and play with their familiar furry friends. The regular walkers all acknowledge each other with a smile and a greeting before moving on. And most of we same regulars also greet those we don’t recognise with some sort of acknowledgement.

Ruby delights in collecting sticks
And so it was today when I walked and smiled and said “good morning” to a solitary and unfamiliar walker. He stopped and said “thanks…that’s nice of you”. I must have looked puzzled, because he added “You know, in Sydney no one walking in my area even makes eye contact any more”. It reminded me of the walks I have taken myself in Sydney, mainly around the Eastern Suburbs and noticed that people don’t acknowledge each other at all. 
                                                                                    
I’ve lived in large cities and small cities,  both here in Australia and abroad. And certainly the comfortable personal isolation that seems more prevalent in larger cities is not as obvious in the smaller ones. Perhaps it is the pace of life, the necessity to be so “busy” that the pleasures of greeting even with a smile is a distraction.

In speaking with a dear girlfriend of mine who lives on the Gold Coast, she mentioned that people there do tend to greet each other, but she also made a valid point that perhaps it’s the community of early morning walkers, who do get to know one another. Certainly the pace of life is slower and more relaxed.

Whatever the reasons, I think we should acknowledge our fellow walkers. With our lives so increasingly dictated to by the electronic media, where eye contact is an unknown quotient, the ability to say “hi” invariably leads to a feeling of wellbeing…if not a quiet inner smile.

4 comments:

  1. I live in small villages both in the UK and in France. On a walk it would be normal to greet everyone you pass whether you know them or not.

    Its a good way to be. In the city I'm not so sure. I think it would depend on how many people are around.

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  2. I agree Gaynor. There is nothing more pleasant than an acknowledgement...but in a big city, I think people these days are more wary. More is the pity!

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  3. Hi Louise ... I live in an area where a lot of walkers greet each other with a smile or some comment about the weather or the terrain ...but there are some tracks which are used by the more serious in training and they never acknowledge anyone ... Their mind is on revs per minute!!
    I find beach walks the most relaxing ... One can pause along the way and drink in the wonderful scenery.

    "Adelaide and Beyond"

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  4. Hi Dianne, thanks for your comment. I agree with you, we more sedate walkers, whether along the beach or Swan River for me, are more likely to stop and "smell the roses"...I long ago gave up counting the revs per minute!

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