Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hello, Hello, Hello

I recently attended a conference in the heart of Whitehall. For a brief period, I felt that I had stepped back into a place frozen in time (I am into cheesy phrases currently) with large pictures of William Gladstone and Thomas Babington MacCaulay staring down at me (I know that blogtiquette necessitates a link here but they are old fogeys. And I am being lazy). The place even had a proper powder room (such a pity that I didn't have my camera with me). I could just picture the flawed high society women from Oscar Wilde going upstairs to powder their noses. And all the proper balls at the function room which was draped in regal, damask curtains and an ornate chandelier.

The conference however was very much about the present: development and poverty and all those things we think can be solved by discussing (maybe not?). It was all about talking, sharing, disagreeing and networking like crazy. The thing that struck me later after the whole conference was the hellos that were exchanged.

Hello. A word that punctures your life with a new person.

Hellos that make you laugh. An esteemed legal theorist who thinks Superman is better than Spiderman as a cultural concept. A whole new juxtaposition opens.

Hellos that introduce you to new thought streams. A centre-left wing, European hello gelled with a loud American right-wing hello over lunch. As the neo-liberal hellos fill me with a genial disbelief (can there be such a thing? Its all in the nice hello that started the conversation I say). Strange insights ensue. Hellos that agree to disagree.

Some hellos mean nothing. You know after leaving the room, you will never meet the person again. But there are nicer hellos that will seek you at the end of the conference, group a few others and go for a drink afterwards. Hellos that get slightly tipsy together and promise to meet up again.

The best hellos are the ones remembered later. When we become really good friends and recollect how we had first met.


Last weekend, we were joined by friends of friends for lunch. It was later, when they stopped by at our place, that M and I knew this would be a hello that would blossom into a long, proper friendship.


With regards to the all out war in Beirut, this diary-note by a Lebanese artist particularly struck me:
"I would have to leave behind all my artwork in my studio.
What about all my brushes and paints and glitter and books? (All my books!) What
about our photo albums? Our family pictures? What about the doodles I drew on my
balcony a few summers ago when I was suffering from a bad break-up? What about
all the love letters I have saved? Letters that document my youth that I wanted
to someday give to my daughter."
The destruction of ordinary lives as political chess games are waged.
The most sensible piece I've read about the problems in the middle-east has been by Ahdaf Soeif. Although I never liked her fiction, her non-fiction work is scintillating.


UglyButAdorable said... it me you're looking for?? *wink*

the war...*sigh* where are all the giants when we need them..

Anonymous said...


one of my favourite words. You never really tire of it.

Anonymous said...

hello! I wish I could've said hello personally to you when you were back here a few weeks ago on holiday... sigh!

I'm not giving up... someday... soon!

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

what an interesting post! lovely way at looking at such an oft-used word!

Blabarella said...

Hello! What a wonderful observation of those 5 congenial letters and of the people who say it.