Friday, April 20, 2018

Insight to get understanding of cultural differences (1)

Joining a wedding party in the rural part of Laos, and having more and more insight of countryside life in Northern Thailand as well, once more made me clear that cultural differences have a lot to do with our programming. And because of this, the understanding of cultural differences with our willingness to open our mind(set) and to be curious instead of judgmental. Our truth is not the truth but only a truth.

One of the things that strikes you when you visit or live in rural Thailand and Laos is how many parties start at the crack of dawn, and the duration of these events. Some parties last three or more days! (Songkran, Thai/Lao New Year, we just celebrated, took 4 – 5 days at our place).

Parties tend to be huge, the wedding party in Laos we joined had over 1000 guests. Catering for hundreds of people, all requiring food and drinks (the whole day(s) in the West is a huge organization as well. Several companies are ‘specialized’ in that.

At our places Thai and Lao families and villagers show something about the remarkable nature that catering for guests on such a scale is done without any of stress, worry and nervous breakdowns that would accompany such a task in the West. No specialized companies involved in that. Family, friends and neighbors all pitch in to help, and the spirit that prevails in the planning, preparation and duration of the event is one of fun and enjoyment.

Food and drinks are shared. Bottles are for sharing amongst a group of drinkers and not for solo consumption. Therefore, for instance, if there are three people and three bottles of beer, the etiquette is that one bottle of beer is opened first and shared out with the other two people. When the first bottle is finished, the second bottle is opened and shared before opening the third. You do not open all three bottles at once and give one to each person. The host adds ice and beer to each glass and tops up the glasses regularly.

Going to a restaurant you order food you like. No problem. You only need to be aware that everyone joining the dinner can (and will) taste ‘your’ dish that will work out not to be ‘your’ dish but only one of ‘group dishes’ provided on your table (or sitting mat).

While heavy drinking is common on party occasions, loud or overly exuberant behavior is not. Although the people here are very fun loving, a number of very important values dictate acceptable behavior. Boisterous drinking behavior in public shows both a lack of politeness and consideration for others, as well as a lack of discipline and order. Consequently, social drinking tends to be a quiet reserved affair compared to some of the more rowdy drinking we see in the West.

Next week more,

Gangey Gruma (Frans Captijn)

Captijn InsightCatalyst in developing tranquility & in-sight to get in a sustainable way real connection, purpose, pleasure and flow in life, love, family, business, career and work again.

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