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.