How to Know If You Are Really Welcome
It’s kind of an odd title for a post, but I’ve had to ponder this exact thing many times here in the Middle East. In my home culture, a friend might say, “Hey, you guys doing anything Friday night? Why don’t you come over?”
I say yes or no and then we go from there. That’s that.
It’s not like that here. In Middle Eastern culture hospitality is huge. I can’t overstate this fact. One local friend joked, “If you do not let me pay the restaurant bill, I will divorce my wife!” They are serious about taking care of their guests. So much so that it has worked into their everyday conversations and greetings.
For instance, as I walk through our village I will greet one woman by saying, “Good morning. How are you?”
She will respond, “I am good. Praise be to God. Come in! Come in!”
I then say, “How is your family? Are they well?”
She says, “Yes. Yes. They are well. Come in and drink tea.”
Here’s where it gets tricky. The first two invitations are usually just a polite gesture. It’s at the third mention of coming in that I have to now consider actually going into her home.
If my friend says something three times, then it’s a genuine offer to come into her house. They do this with food also.
That’s the proper polite dialog. It took me a while to figure this out and I had a few meals (large, time-consuming meals) that I had cooked which went uneaten because I had not invited the family three times. They didn’t take me seriously and John and I sat listening to the tunes of jazz cafe music and eating 2 pans of lasagna.
We’ve learned albeit slowly at times.
So what am I saying? I am glad that you are here. I’m glad that we share life together. I’m glad that you’re interested in what happens in other parts of the world.
Please visit often.
Please visit many times.
Please visit all the days.
See? I’m serious. I said it three times. There can be no doubt now. I like you. You are welcome here. We’re friends.