Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hospitality vs courtesy

Amongst the things that strike the western mind when we come to asia, is the difference in values.. to not say the total inversion of values!

For instance, tibetans are extremely friendly and welcoming. Anywhere you go they yell at you the only few english words they know, so it usually goes "Hello! I love you!" (sounds almost like Jim Morisson!)
They stop you and invite you to join their picnic, invite you to their house, to their tent.. have a tea here, some tsamba there (tibetan breakfast/snack consisting of flour mixed with salted tea and some yak butter).. from comfortable modern homes to more modest dirt houses.. the nomads tents are an incredible display of food and drinks; tea, sodas, biscuits, fruit plates, nuts... all nicely arranged on the central table.. they give you everything they have, and it's often very difficult to not accept at least a little something!
Communication is always extremely limited but smiles and generosity come by the truck load!
You got the point; hospitality is a must, and far more important than anything we know in europe.. bring a gipsy looking tibetan to a french village and everyone will rush home, closing doors and windows until the "danger" has gone by!

On the other hand, the "courtesy manners" and other "rules of life in society" that we usually take for granted, seem to have no correspondance here! Without a second thought will they spit right on your shoes, blow their cigarette smoke in your face in restaurant or buses, stare at you while you take a shit (thanks to their "voyeur friendly" type toilets), fight for a seat in the bus...

Go figure!.. it's just another world!

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