Sunday, January 28, 2007

Indian etiquette

I remember one of the first times a family dropped in on us for the
Sunday afternoon visit. We served them tea and some homemade
goodies. I offered the goodies to each one personally, but i did so
only ONCE.

My husband was so irritated with me that I stopped at one offer. He
pulled me aside and urged me to offer the goodies twice more. Two
more times, but they already declined once! He told me that offering
only once was like a half-hearted attempt, that you really could not
care less if they ate the item or didn't eat the item. A well-bred
hostess will offer the same item three times to each guest and if
they decline on the third attempt, then you can give up. You've done
your part and they feel good that you really cared that they eat
something but they just didn't feel like it. So I went back and sure
enough some did eat when prompted for the third time.

So the next time we had people over, I offered three times in a row.

Do you want this?
are you so you don't want this?
Not at all?

My husband was livid - it seems you have to pepper it thru the
evening, otherwise you're just being pushy.


i guess my ancestors really were barbarians. :(


Anonymous said...

Thank you firangi mama.
What you are doing is l;earning a new culture not being inpolite.
I must as a sister and a.llos someone married to a Pakistani, tell you that it is not easy to adapt to all the nuances that each culture brings along.
Offering one in our culture is ablout initiating the ritual of the "meal" food" and therefore anyone can help themselves afterwards....
So my dear you did the right thing the first time but the second time I must agree with hubby you tried too hard to please.
Etiquette is about politeness and kindness in any culture and they( your guests(would have realised that obvioulsy you are Firangi and not expected to know .
I am involved with Etiquette training in Australia in a College for professionals and also school kids and could not help feeling a little sorry for your genuine attempts to please and you husband intolerance .
I have to bring my hubby into line about our cultural diferrences to bring about mutual respect. I hope you do so with yours.AZ

Indie Mama said...

= ) When I used to visit family in India, we'd try to visit a bunch of different houses all in one day...and then we'd be soooo stuffed! My parents always said that we had to eat 2 things at each house, otherwise we'd appear impolite. So finally, at one house we wolfed down 2 sweets and glowered that we were DONE and we did NOT want anything more - and boy, my parents were LIVID!!!

Anonymous said...

i cant stop thinking about my trip to india when i was 15. we went to 10 homes in one day and i had a glass of lemonade at each one. that night i had a horrbile stomachache.
my family no longer does the three times thing. we ask once and that is it. funny how i think i americanized them all over the years. i would swing over to teh living room, ask who wanted tea, took a head count and served. none of that Indian custom...LOL