Arab Hospitality: The art of giving and receiving
Where – P21 Gallery 21/27 Chalton St NW1 1JD
When – Saturday June 29 at 4 pm till 5 pm.Everyone welcome and especially to join in the discussion.
I’ll be talking about the great hospitality I have enjoyed when travelling through some Arab countries including Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Western Sahara.
In some cultures, we have lost the art of receiving gracefully. In Souk Saruja, in Damascus, for intance, I bought a bag of olives and being in a hurry, asked the stall holder to give them to me quickly. However, noticng the oil was leaking from the bag, he took it back from me and put that bag inside another bag. Then he tied not one knot but two in the bag. The delay was almost unbearable. Another delay. But as he handed the olives to me he smiled and I realised how ungracious it was to be in such a rush to get what I wanted when he was going about his job in such a mannerly fashion.
In Palestine, I was invited to lunch during my lunch break. (I was a volunteer teacher in Hebron.)
Lunch went on quite a while and each time I got up to go the hostesses begged me to stay and have some more, while I in turn begged to be allowed to leave and get back to my class. But without success. Then, when I was becoming anxious and slightly annoyed another teacher (from Hebron) stood up, shook his little coffee cup a few times and left. So that, I learned, was all you had to do.Simple – once you knew.
There are lots more of these small cultural behaviour clues so if you can please come along on Saturday to Gallery P21 and share them with us.