by Cdr. Bud Slabbaert
PHILIPSBURG:--- No, it is not gobbledygook. And it has nothing to do with the car brand Kia. “Kia Purotu Koe” is how people say “Hello“ on the Island of Mangareva in Southern Polynesia. It means “May you remain beautiful”. Oh, I tell you, it makes you feel so good. Give it to me 24/7 and this reminder would make me start believing in it, since it is a potential compliment! Don’t you think it sounds better than “How are you today?” day in day out, all year long? It beats a howdy and a handshake big time. Mind, when you do common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world
If I would try on anyone saying it, they would think that I’m off my rocker and put me on the critical list. Say it to a lady and one may get into a fight with her companion, and he will threaten to take your teeth out one by one, especially when he’s got muscles in places where others don’t even have places. Yet, it is so innocent. I would like to be able to hear my heart and the response with her eyes. But one always has to be aware of the possible consequences of the words that one employs. Like diplomats do. You know? A man who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age! Their words are like Teflon, they don’t stick. And he never misses a good chance to shut up.
“Kia Purotu Koe” has the flair of a certain “je ne sais quoi”. You may even go further than “May you remain beautiful” by adding the words “May your shadow never diminish.” It will initially take some courage to do it, but courage is being afraid and doing it anyway. The people that you approach this way may think that there is something about you, that reminds them of a fairy tale. It can give them the feeling that you are taking them to the brink of relief and liberation. It is common knowledge that the word of mouth is of great value. This may be a different interpretation of it. However, there is never anything wrong when you can make a person’s heart flutter with warming words, with flavor in your voice, and eternity on your lips and in your eyes. It brings up anyone’s pulse a beat or two. Wow!
There is another thing that may flabbergast when greeting someone! A hand kiss, also known as Besamanos. A kiss on the back of a hand can convey appreciation or a deep sense of respect. And sometimes like there is more in the package. It may express so much drama, almost like saying, “I am at your behest”. Nothing wrong with that in a customer service department environment or the hospitality industry in general. It is a gesture like a promise. In the modern world, wherein people may be accused of appropriation and even mockery, people have shied away from this old-age tradition. Nowadays people are not accustomed to the brilliance of chivalry.
The hand kiss is symbolic and shows that one is courteous. It will come over as being considered a person of a high ecclesiastical position. There may be a fear that the meaning will be lost or misconstrued. It certainly will be if the hand kiss is followed by the words: “Don’t I know you from the Golden Globes Awards celebration?” It may create an unusual and surprising miracle in communication. But then again, the response may come in the form of a blessing for communicating so much admiration. Where did the age of chivalry go where the combination of knightly qualities was expected, namely courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak?
“Kia Purotu Koe” doesn’t get out of my head. In my idle time, I dream a lot. Maybe it is just the meaning “May you remain beautiful” that intrigues me. Wouldn’t you want to remain beautiful? Well, if anyone intends to get rid of me, give me a one-way ticket to Mangareva and I’ll be on my way. How about creating a collection for it? Want to come along too? Just to remain beautiful? You may not be committing a mistake! Beauty is never a mistake. Ask a beautician.