Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Hows of Hospitality

With my grandmother's passing just a few weeks back, it did have us all thinking back on the fun times we all had when we were younger in the kopitiam; from hopping over specific wooden floorboards to avoid waking up the elders to the crazy shenanigans we got up to whilst working in a coffeeshop. You really never know what's going to happen when practically anyone can walk into the shop.

One thing I did realize after all this time is the fact that our dining table generally had an unfamiliar face every time we sat down for meals. Though we used to think they were some random relatives that my grandparents used to call over - or even old customers of the shop who dropped by, they mostly turned out to be long-lost friends and even total strangers sometimes that were invited over. As shy young children, it did embarass us to have such relative foreigners at the dining table, frequently staring unashamedly at us and blatantly commenting on how we looked. Certainly wasn't ideal for an impressionable child of any age. 

Turns out calling randoms to the table is a family trait since my own parents did the same, much to our consternation. 

Come join us for a meal!

But as I grow older, I realized those were some of the most important life lessons we had, though we didn't know we were being ably taught even then. What we learnt was the importance of friendship and hospitality. Till now, my table - and by extension my home - is always open to friends and family no matter the time of day. 不客气!

Although if you come banging on the wee hours of the morning, you might get a grumpier response than usual... but still my door will be open.

So much to my horror I found out recently how simple hospitality seems to be an archaic tradition. Certainly not something that's taught in most other households. 

Paul : So you're heading over there for a while? 
Miz Grundy : Yes. 
Paul : Staying over with your friend? 
Miz Grundy : No. 
Paul : You fell out with her? 
Miz Grundy : No. 
Paul : What gives?
Miz Grundy : She didn't offer her place to me. 
Paul : She's not squatting under a staircase? 
Miz Grundy : No. It's a double storey and she lives alone. 
Paul : How accommodating. Yeah, she's not a friend. 

It's as simple as that so let's just leave all the lame excuses that followed. A friend comes over to your place and you can barely offer a night's stay, much less a hearty meal? How ungenerous for a supposed friend. Hell, actually that's so much worse than a complete stranger. 

By her feeble responses, I assume Miz Grundy wouldn't have offered the same so I figure that's one 'friendship' that isn't going to last.

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