A Lesson in Awkward Handshakes
Finally, something good came of all this TV watching. I don’t know if it made an impression on any Azerbaijanis, but maybe someone, somewhere, is now commencing shorter handshakes.
Handshakes are a big deal her in Azerbaijan. Everyone does it, the men especially. It’s not uncommon at the credit union office for me to have to get up and shake someone’s hand at least a few times an hour. Walking into the office in the morning is like a handshaking ritual, sacred and inviolable, observed by all comers. I think it’s somewhat excessive. Certainly a polite gesture, but here it’s over the top, and overdone.
Which is why I was overjoyed to see a TV program called Just For Laughs yesterday. It looks like it’s taped in Canada, and is just a jolly mix of candid camera gags. The gag most appropriate to the state of handshaking affairs in Azerbaijan just slayed me, because it teaches a lesson that Azerbaijanis need to learn: sometimes, a handshake can go on for too long. The gag was set up with a man as a politician running for office, and he wanted to shake your hand and take your picture. Once you thought this quick gig was over, he wouldn’t let go of your hand, no matter how hard you tried. This is how Azerbaijanis sometimes shake hands. They hold on for just too long, or they do something strange, like repeatedly, softly squeezing your hand. It’s really awkward. It should be accepted that a handshake lasts just a few seconds, and that there is no funny business. Maybe I’m not adequately acculturating, but awkward handshakes, be they long-lasting or dead fish or whatever type, need to be excised from this population.