In the arab culture, it is customary to greet each other by shaking hands and kissing on the cheek.
Well, not really "kissing", more like cheek brushing.
Here is the tricky part though, there is no right way to do it, no rules to follow. A major challenge to someone not quite familiar with the practice.
Some women kiss twice, some three times and some four. You can get a kiss on each cheek, two on one cheek, and a whole myriad of combination. If you are a math head, think about the different combinations of kisses and knock yourself out.
As the westerner I let the Arabic person take the lead.
Here lies the dilemma since each person does their own thing depending on their mood, or feelings toward you or whatever other conditions apply.
Picture this scenario..
I returned to work after Christmas break. I am greeted in one of the many ways by all the Arabic staff. Everyone does it differently, my poor brain is confused by the end of all this. Just when I thought I had it down, someone changes things up and there I was again fumbling to make cheek contact not sure which way to go with my head.
Ok so this one teacher comes over and we get through the first cheek, then the second. I think she is gonna go back to my first cheek (try to keep up) so I turn my head, big mistake....we practically end up locking lips because she wants to repeat a cheek. I had NO clue of course so there was no way to prepare myself to make the right move. AWKWARD.
How is it I ended up feeling like a fool even though I can't read minds?