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Explaining the Head Bobble

Compiled/partly written by MELVIN DURAI Email Compiled/partly written by MELVIN DURAI
March 2012
Explaining the Head Bobble

Anyone teaching a course in Indian culture could devote an entire class period to the head bobble and still leave students confused. Writer Mahesh Nair tried to decode the head bobble at CNNGO.com, stating that it “can be a nod, shake, slow turn, raise or spasm of an Indian’s head. It can be vertical, horizontal or circular. It can be one or many. It is as simple as that.” Depending on subtle movements of the head and facial features, it could mean ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ ‘maybe’ or even ‘wassup,” he writes.

“It is important to note that in southern India, the No Bobble can often be mistaken,” Nair writes. “Multiple shakes or wiggles of the head side to side can also be used to appreciate something. So if you were to say in Chennai that A.R. Rahman’s music is mind-blowing and the man sitting opposite shakes his head, it does not mean that he disagrees with you.”

Ah, so simple.

Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.
[Comments? Contributions? Please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]

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