One thing that you, as a foreigner, notice immediately about Buenos Aires is that men kiss each other on the cheek all the time. I wrote about this in my Week 3 Random Observations and noted how it takes some getting used to. (Ok, it takes a lot of getting used to.) The Denver Post just published a travel story from Elliott Hester titled Adjusting to the Man-Kiss, where he recounts his own experiences with different cultures, from Europe to the Middle East to South America. The whole story is entertaining, but the part about Buenos Aires immediately caught my attention:
… Cairo might get my vote as a hand-holding capital for men. But when the subject turns to man-kisses, Buenos Aires is arguably the world’s most lively city.
In Argentina’s bustling capital, men can be seen kissing everywhere: on the street and in the subway, at soccer matches and tango clubs, in neighborhood cafes and high-end restaurants, during weekly protests at Plaza de Mayo and at presidential press conferences at “la Casa Rosada” (the Pink House).
If an Argentinean walks into a bar to greet five amigos, he’ll approach their table and systematically kiss every guy before taking a seat among them.
Having spent nearly a year in Buenos Aires, I no longer cringe when my friend Esteban opens his arms and plants a fat one on my cheek. Each time I greet Claudio, my tango teacher, we trade perfunctory kisses. It’s as normal as breathing.
Such cultural assimilation can create awkward moments among fellow Americans, however. Whenever I see my friend Greg, an expatriate from San Diego, we hesitate, unsure of how to greet each other.
But in Rome, we do as Romans do. Even if it takes a couple of clumsy seconds.
That awkward reaction is still definitely there for me. Maybe after a year, I’ll be completely used to it, but we’ll have to see. Definitely check out the whole article for an interesting read.
Adjusting to the man-kiss [Denver Post]