"I translated them, rather than just putting the original Arabic phrase in italics, because I wanted readers to get the poetry of everyday speech. ... When someone gives them a cup of coffee, they tell them `May Allah bless your hands.' Isn't that beautiful?"Struck by that everyday poetry, I decided to try it myself this morning, and I wished the waiter who served me breakfast يسلم يدك ("Yislamu eedayk."). From the smile and the profusion of words that followed, I suspected I had said the right thing, but who knows? The man could have had a sense of humor and been calling me a dog and the son of unworthy parents.
But he also placed his right palm on his chest, which was the clincher, because
"Placing the palm of the right hand on the chest immediately after shaking hands with another man shows respect or thanks. A very slight bow of the head may also be added."and
"Placing the palm of the right hand on the chest, bowing the head a little and closing one’s eyes connotes `Thank You' (in the name of Allah)."This was the greatest and most gratifying effusion of good feeling I had received since I wished the locals "Eid Mubarak" in Tunisia. So who says crime fiction can't be educational? Thanks, Matt.
(Learn about Arabic gestures including the ones described here at a Web site that bears the evocative name www.bellydanceuk.co.uk.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2012