Today is ‘World Hello Day', a time for people to forge new relationships

Strangers are aplenty, and as we go about our mundane duties, we can't possibly connect with all of them. However, greeting 10 of them — on just one day in a year — is realistic. Welcome to ‘World Hello Day' (WHD). Brian McCormack and Michael McCormack instituted this day as a response to the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

Observed every November 21, WHD was at first a purely political act. By striking up friendship with rank strangers, propagators of WHD were proving to world leaders that people could be friends, despite their differences. It was aimed at encouraging world leaders to resolve conflicts through dialogue and not through force. Over the years, WHD has become a tool for people to widen their circle of friends and enrich their lives.

Entrepreneur Agni Sharman believes every day presents opportunities for connecting with great people, but only a few make use of them. During a recent train journey from Thiruvananthapuram to Chennai, Aurel Fischer, a German teenager and his mother travelled by train standing because they had open tickets in a fully-packed reservation compartment. Sensing their predicament, Agni shared a sympathetic word with the youngster. The two settled into an easy conservation. “There was no dearth of topics. We discussed the E63 Nokia model — which we shared, and the highlights of tourist and tradition-bound places in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. I found out he and his mother were backpacking through South India, and that he knew more about my hometown Varkala than I did,” recalls Agni.

Striking a chord

“Our conversation struck a chord with the rest of the travellers. They made adjustments so that the German and his mother could sit. They also began to talk to them.” Agni and the teenager are now friends on Facebook!

Kiruba Shankar, founder of Cerebrate, which links up achievers and brilliant minds across the world, says how a few ‘hellos' changed his world view dramatically. Chance meetings with groups of people from Pakistan in different settings changed his views about the nation. “They are paragons of kindness and hospitality. They are among the sweetest people I have ever met,” says Kiruba, who believes couch-surfing is an extension of the ‘hello movement' and that it helps people see those from other cultures in a fresh light.

“The ‘hello movement' is present in many forms. Before the advent of the Internet, people connected with strangers through pen-friendship. Social media is the new face of the desire to connect with the unknown.”

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012