Actually we Chinese don't say 'Ni Hao Ma ?' when we meet
It's very interesting and funny that so many foreigners start to learn Chinese with the first knowledge of a very English Chinese greeting 'Ni Hao Ma ?' just like many English speakers' 'How Are You? '.
But actually not many Chinese would say 'Ni Hao Ma? ' when hanging out with each other daily. If you say this, you are considered to be a little bit strange. hehehe... so ? what we say? Well, that depends on the situations and people's ages also their backgrounds.
'Ni chi guo le ma?'
In my opinion, my father and my father's father, many years ago , when I was still a little child, they often said one 'greeting' when meeting neighbours and friends. -----'Ni chi guo le ma ?' (Have you eaten already?/ Have you had your meal?) . hehehe...eehh, this is even stranger than 'Ni Hao Ma ?' , I bet you think so, yes? hahaha..
But we have reasons. Just like the weahter in the UK couldn't often be sunny, the Bristish often talked about the weather as they met. In China, in my fahter and grandfather's times, they could hardly have one good meal which could make them not go hungry soon , so having meal was supposed to be such Imporant matter during those years. But right now if we get to know that they even asked their fellows 'Ni chi guo le ma?' rught after getting out of the toilet, we would lol, hehehe...
'Ni hai hao ba?' (Are you still okay?)
I don't know when we started to use this greeting, but it was quite popular among young lovers and those who cared much about others' feelings years ago. and especially those college students who were born in 1980s. It is considered to be a very Warm greeting and sometimes really made your friend feel comfortable.
'Ni hao a~' (Hello!)
I always say this to my friends in order to start talking. It's a good way to be more friendly while we use 'a (啊)'
I think these three ways are my memories of changes in Chinese greetings around me. And.. I am 17 years old, my dad was 30 when I was born.
I'm happy to remind you that 'Ni hao ma' is really not popular used in China. Wish you have some understanding of the Chinese we are using, or in another word, the Real Chinese. ^^
Hope you all find Chinese Beautiful and enjoy your language study in italki.
God bless you,