"hows things?" "hows your day?" "busy?"
How are you? How are you doing?, the above questions and other variety of them are a big part of the English language and culture. They are great ice breakers and , not asking
is considered rude, like there is something missing...Yes, it is somewhat meaningless between strangers, but I'm yet to meet someone who resented it. :)
It's just a part of the culture and works great.
It is definitely different than in Poland. I grew up without asking this type of questions, so I can understand Iwona's frustration." How are you" question was reserved for friends or family members, I did not see for months or years. When, you asked, you really wanted to know and they were happy to tell you all that happened since the last time. Very warm.
It would be nice to know how it works in all other languages and cultures. Anybody?