One of my best friends in Khartoum is Paul, or as someone people like to call him “the other PhD student”. Paul has been in Sudan for ages and has really mastered the art of Sudanese greeting. I am too lazy to fully engage… But this is how it goes,
Hello Laura! How’s your condition?
My condition is fine. Thank you God! How is your condition?
My condition is fine. Thank you God! How is your family?
My family is good. Thank you God! How is your family?
My family is good. Thank you God! Everything good?
Everything is good. Thank you God! Everything good with you?
Yes, Everything is good. Thank you God! Anything bad?
No, nothing is bad. Thank you God. Anything bad with you?
No, nothing is bad. Thank you God. Are you a hundred percent?
I’m a hundred percent. Thank you God. Are you a hundred percent?
Yes, I am a hundred percent. Thank you God. Where have you been?
I have been around. Thank you God. Where have you been?
I have been around. Thank you God. What is the news?
Everything is good. Thank you God.
Yes, thank you God! Good. Well, I will see you later… if God wills it.
Yes, I’ll see you later… if God wills it.
Now I know this seems comical in English, and slightly annoying when Paul and I insist on doing it every time we see each other, complete with multiple shoulder pats and serious facial expressions… but now that Paul has made it seem like a game, I am starting to be less lazy in my greetings with others. I have also noticed the difference it makes in people’s attitudes with me.
I used to try and get by with the bare minimum,
All in one breath, not waiting to hear their replies. But I have found the longer you take in greeting someone, the more friendly and helpful they are with you.
So now, whenever I see someone, I know I am about to kiss goodbye to five minutes of my life.
Good bye five minutes!
On the other hand, what’s the rush? I think that this drawn-out greeting came about because Sudan is so bloody hot and people do need to occasionally take a compulsory chill out. We might even say that saying hello is a form of Sudanese verbal yoga… You have to stop in your tracks, forget your haste and be overly polite to someone you may or may not like. It calms you down and shows that you are not too busy to say hello.
This is just one reason why Paul Fean is my PhD fieldwork guru…. Thank you God for putting Paul Fean in my life…