Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Come In, Come In (NOT)

One of the down falls to travelling this year over the vacation was not getting to go visiting like I normally do. It is tradition over the Heyt season to spend the day going from house to house catching up with friends and family and eating more food than you can imagine.
This year we really didn’t have any friends in the city where we were staying, but that didn’t stop us from getting invitations to come in. We met these ladies sitting out on the side walk and actually joined them for a while, after twenty minutes of chatting they invited us over to their home. We sat for a little while drinking tea and eating from their full table before politely leaving. However they followed us out of the house and down the street, all the time insisting that we go to the second woman's house. Later that day a woman was walking down the road beside us, guiding her elderly mother. We nodded politely as we passed and said hello. Immediately there was an invitation to join them in their home. They weren't even at home yet, and seemed to be going the opposite direction from where their home was, but they invited us in none the less.

This is pretty normal. My teacher and I will often walk home from class together, as we are walking she will expand on how busy she is and how she is headed straight to the store. Yet when we pass in front of her building she feels obliged to invite me in. The funniest is when she extends the invitation as she continues to walk right by her house on the way to the market. Uyghur culture demands that they invite others in, but a lot of the time they don't really mean it. The other day some of my expat friends and I were sitting around sharing some of the insights we've gleaned over the years as to when it is a really an invite and when it is just lip service.

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