May 14, 2011

Dwindling Art of Hospitality


As I walked along the European bank of the Bosphorus, a small group of fisherman were coming to the end of their dinner. They called me over, offering me grapes and traditional drinks and I explained in my smattering of Turkish what I was up to. "Londra, Istanbul," slap legs, mime walking. "Sekiz ay" (eight months).

Throughout my whole journey I had been offered hospitality to an extent I could never have imagined before I left. I had been invited to sleep in people's homes, in bars, in barns, in churches and in mosques. I was fed in restaurants and at mountain passes. I was given friendship and support at times when I really needed it.

Yet I assumed I would have been anonymous in a city of 13 million people. But as we finished eating they told me proudly that the only way to see their city was from the water, and invited me out in their boat. For Muslims, they told me, the duty of hospitality is not a duty only to the stranger, but one to God.

Read more on Gulf News: Dwindling Art of Hospitality

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