Indians are some of the most hospitable and generous people you will ever meet. This may come as a surprise to many who have heard the ongoing jokes on the thriftiness of the Indian people (which is true),but hospitality is one of the true hallmarks of the Indian culture.I will not speak for all Indian people but by and large those of us who have been foreigners and interacted closely with Indians have a different story to tell.
In Hindu philosophy- the guest is god and this is taken to heart by most people. However, being a very conservative society, I have learnt that this trait may take a while to be expressed because Indians have to trust you, or develop a ‘sense of comfort’. I personally think that’s the reason they ask so many questions, as they want to understand (at least in their own way) how you fit in the equation.
In the beginning of my stay in India, I was always shocked that people in the office would share their home cooked food with each other, with me too- plus sharing whatever snacks they carried to work. And it’s true that Indians fight for the check if you go out with them. They fight amongst themselves for who will pick the tab and I kid you not, it’s the norm- every damn time.
I thought food was a private matter before India, now I have had people place a piece of home cooked chicken or biriyani or such on my plate and later shared chocolate bars and sweets (every Indian has a sweet tooth) with workmates for dessert.Imagine that,everyday! Pardon me but I think I come from a very mean and individualistic society.
When visiting a friend in those early days, her mum who spoke no English packed food for my dinner that day! I tried to let her know that she didn’t have to, but without success. This kind of kindness used to leave me speechless because at home, no matter how much we love each other, this kinda stuff just seems like going way out of someones way!
The first time you visit an Indian person’s home you are supposed to leave with a gift. I have been given clothes, fabrics and gift vouchers by people who are meeting me for the first time. Of course I know a lot of this generosity is also because they know my husband and/or his family, but I still experienced the generosity before I met him.
Remember my stay in that Indian village? Hospitality at its best.
Ps: am told that South Indian people are the ones I describe in this post. Well, my heart is in South India 🙂