I really really like it here in Portugal that everybody is so keen on saying hallo. In the street, in the store, through the car window, whether it’s to someone you know or to a stranger. It’s just everywhere, and I like it. Probably cause I do the same.
Its extremely obvious when out walking or running since you see so many strangers, the people you meet nearly pause in their activities to greet you. They may be gardeners carrying tools from their vans into the gardens, women carrying groceries from their cars parked outside their houses, people getting into their cars to drive away, but it’s like they wait up a little for you to come into talking distance and then they say hallo. And I like it. It gives me energy. It’s even kind of funny because I can see how the Portuguese noting that I’m a foreigner (yes, they spot that immediately) actually don’t expect me to have to say hallo back but when I do, I can tell it makes them happy. And I feel a sense of belonging and understanding. What makes it more certain to be a Portuguese trait is that on certain places the saying hallo is less common. When running through the golf course nearby, that is mainly frequented by foreigners so the Portuguese working there don’t expect a Portuguese hallo, I’ve noticed they actually do not look up to greet you in the same way. It’s as if they’ve gotten used to the fact that they won’t be greeted anyway so they’ve adapted. So when I say hallo they stir. It’s interesting.
I know I’ve touched upon it before, how friendly the Portuguese are (for example in this column) and the amounts of hallos you get is probably the most obvious and superficial sign of that, but it’s worth repeating, because it’s so true. It’s like the Portuguese are constantly seeking out their vicinity to find the next receiver of their coming hallo. You see them looking up and down the street, looking around them in the approximate height of where you’d likely find a set of eyes. And that’s not just any hallo, but an upbeat, friendly, happy hallo, like they are really genuinely happy to meet you. It’s from the heart.
I am definitely not out to condemn a nationality, because that would both be unfair and untrue, but, such is not the case in Sweden, which is my natural frame of reference. In Sweden it’s more common that passers by look down on their feet or the road, into another direction, looking busy. Which I guess they are, busy not saying hallo. And if and when you get a hallo it’s a murmuring, down beat, not wanting to disturb one. I don’t know why. It’s for sure not because Swedes are unfriendly, they’re not. But maybe a bit shy and self aware, maybe that’s got to do with it. In Sweden me and my likes who constantly go about saying hallo when passing people, going into stores, waving at a distance, well we probably are viewed as a bit intruding, in your face. But it’s changing, there’s becoming more of us and the world is opening up. And seeing how Swedes take so much influence from abroad, it’s bound to keep changing and the hallos to become more common.
I don’t know, it’s again not saying that the one country or culture is the better, but I do like the fact that people around me here are so into saying hallo. Why not share and give energy when there’s a chance?
How do you feel about it? What’s the difference in saying hallo where you live versus where you spent your last holiday? And even more interesting, do you change your way of saying hallo when spending time in another culture, on holiday?