Before coming here, I really didn't know that bowing would be such an important part of my everyday life. Well..it isn't really bowing, it's called wy-ing (sp?)and it's done by placing your palms together and holding it right in front of your face, then making a slight nod or curtsy (You can exaggerate these actions as necessary depending on the importance of who's involved). Before I started working at I Can Read, the only time I would be wy'ed was after receiving change at the supermarket, but now I get wy'ed quite frequently by students and their parents after a class. The problem I've been having is 1) I'm never really expecting it(not everyone does it), 2) this catches me off guard and it takes me a split-second to remember to do it back, and 3) my hands are usually full with something (book, folder, my change, etc) which makes for a very awkward and I can only hope un-embarrassing gesture. The reason I'm writing this is to announce that I've not only wy'ed successfully once but twice in the past 5 days! Pulling off a wy nice and smooth is very satisfying, probably because I struggled so much before. I'm getting more and more aware of scenarios with an impending wy and make sure to prepare myself.
As a side note, there are 4 different types of wy. The first is the low one, for people who are equal to you or not as important. This is done by placing your hands near the bottom of your face. I typically put my thumbnail to my lip. I think that you can put your hands lower than that too if you want (like, on your chest) but I haven't seen that too much and don't wanna risk it. The next level up would be for superiors or if you wanted to be very formal. For this one, I put my thumb right on my nose. This is the one I go to most often so there's no risk of offending. The next two I'm kinda unclear on. I've asked around but the reaction I mostly get is just to not worry about since it's unlikely that I'll use them. The third one is for the king and you put your hands right in front of your eyes. and the fourth is for prayer and you put your hands so high that you see underneath your wrists. I think you can even do this one on top of your head like a shark fin but I'm not sure. If anyone has any corrections or input, please feel free to leave them as comments.