miércoles, 15 de septiembre de 2010

Random Acts of Kindness

There is something very intriguing about hospitality in Lebanon. I mean hospitality here is taken to a whole different level.

I am sure I could do a historical, sociological, or psychological analysis of the whole thing, but I really don't feel like it. I have been doing way too much reading today. So I will just stick to my experience this time.

Since I got to Lebanon I have been surrounded my random acts of kindness. Here are some examples:
I am sitting outside of the building where my yoga class takes place. I am reading a book, standing by the door. The concierge approaches me and offers me to come in and seat on his chair. When I do this, he brings me a coffee. Then he leaves (this is without words, I don’t speak his language, he doesn’t speak mine).

Other examples: I am in a taxi; the driver doesn't have any change. He tells me I can leave, without paying (impossible scenario in NYC!). I am in another taxi, the driver asks me if I am comfortable, and whether I prefer window or AC (yeah right Boston cabs). I am out with friends, someone pays for my whole meal without me even knowing the person that well. When I offer to pay the person categorically refuses. I am in the street, waiting for a cab, next to a guy who is waiting for a cab too. A cab comes, he doesn’t take it but lets me go instead and helps me negotiate a price… I can go on.

The most interesting part is my reaction to the whole thing: first mistrust kicks in ("what do you want from me?"). Second, paranoia ("Am I about to get robbed?"). Third comes skepticism ('yeah, how much is THAT going to cost?"). Then comes doubt ("Naaaah, this is not right. Am I being too naive?"). Finally, vanity ("Is this guy hitting on me?")

When I think about it, I realize that I have become so accustomed to look out for myself that I find it difficult to accept with an open heart these random acts of kindness. Could it be that people are just being kind? Could it be that I could just stop "being careful" without fearing for my life?

I feel the barrier dissolve and me accepting this kindness. Then I get scared and I put it right back up. Then I relax, then it comes up...

But I can't simply ignore the fact that in Lebanon people are just incredibly welcoming and warm, regardless of what goes on in my head.

4 comentarios:

  1. Nice article :) .. Imagine the completely reversed scenario where you grew up in Lebanon, and moved out only to find out that people are not that nice everywhere else, and any time you try to help someone, they get offended... I once asked a person who was carrying a large bookcase if they needed help with that, and they refused saying I'm trying to get a reason to sue them... Enjoy Lebanon!

  2. welcome to lebanon.. I'm glad that you feel comfortable here, true we are different but thx GOD we do care.. life is much easier in lebanon..

  3. I'm from Lebanon but live in the Netherlands and I'm happy you experienced good things in my country.

    There are good things and bad things in Lebanon, but luckily, people still care about one another. Hope that doesn't change or at least not so soon.

  4. Hola!

    As a response to this post, I have written an article about Lebanese kindness. I hope you don't mind that I used parts of your post in it. I got many interesting comments so far and I'd like to know what you think.