Traveling around the world, the face and meaning of hospitality changes with every crossed border. Just when you’re still reveling in the royal treatment from a Greek family, you get brought down to earth by a rude Parisian. Let’s focus on the good ones here, though.
I read from a friend, Shannon, who had just been to Georgia. Shannon happened upon a group of people singing under the Kartvils Deda, the statute of the Mother of Georgia. One of the singers broke away from the group and joined Shannon.
Offering her food and drink, the stranger made conversation with Shannon, asking her about her reasons for visiting Georgia. That was the beginning of a night of eating, drinking, singing and storytelling.
For Georgians, this is a way of life. Theirs is a culture where much is given and nothing is expected or even wanted in return. In his work, “In the Mountains of Poetry”, Peter Nasmyth said that the old Georgian doctrine of perfect love or cult of friendship, linked with the convention of hospitality is still evident in today’s Georgia. It’s worth reading.
I’ll certainly give Georgia a go. I may not be good at singing, and I don’t drink, but if great hospitality really is a culture in the country, I’m sure there’ll be something for me.
To the Greeks, a guest is a gift from God…or the gods, depending on whom you’ve visited. These guys were skeptical about the reasons for Greek hospitality. But Greeks don’t get cozy only with tourists and foreign guests. They spoil each other with food, drink and gifts on every local visit.
Markus Stolz writes “If you plan on hosting a dinner party, do not ever prepare desert, as you will receive the finest sweets money can buy from every second guest. I am seriously considering buying a larger freezer, as it is not possible to eat all the cakes we receive when inviting friends for dinner. When you have four children like me, you are tempted in opening up a toyshop, as my children cannot possibly use all the presents they are given”.
Maybe it started with a fear of the gods, but it has obviously become a way of life for them. I, for one, am planning to visit Greece soon. Although when I see the riots and economic crisis in the country on the news, I start to wonder if I’m not too late.
Hospitality in China is a paradox much like the nation itself. If you visit China, not through an arranged tour but free and wild, you’ll see a country that puzzles and amazes, depending on where you’re coming from.
When you visit a Chinese family, you are free to do as you like. Smoke, drink, and go to any part of the property without a chastening look. And as a tourist, you’re a guest of the whole nation; everyone treats you specially. You’ll be shown sights for free and fed at many places.
The word friend is used very loosely: for the Chinese, friend is a word used where an actual friendship is hoped for. Which brings me to the other side of Chinese hospitality.
The Chinese can get friendly with you for the sole purpose of getting help from you. The help may be in form of business (no surprise there), or travel to your country. For them, networking is a necessary part of life, and they’ll spoil you to get some favor later.
But, that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are very friendly people, with a simple nature, and many just want to practice their English.
Hospitality in China is a bit complex, but you will thoroughly enjoy every bit of it.