Hospitality is special. It is expressed in such a variety of ways and in a whole range of locations. It has been my incredible privilege, over the past four decades or so, to experience hospitality in many places internationally.
Being welcomed into uncomplicated homes in Africa and Asia. Every effort is made to make one feel at home and is a special experience. Often, such hospitality incurs a high level of personal expense on behalf of the hosts. One would never know about that directly of course. The friendship shown and the rich variety of cuisine provided made such occasions memorable ones.
Meals are special occasions in many cultures. They often last for several hours. In the Pacific Islands, traditional, communual cooking can take around 3-4 hours. The end result served from inside the “mumu” – a banana-leaf-earth covered mound – in which the food is steam cooked, is absolutely delicious. Each family gathers and prepares their food. This is then stacked in the mound and covered with banana leaves. It is sealed with soil while the steam-cooking takes place inside. The steam is precipitated by pouring water onto specially heated stones through a long bamboo pipe in the centre of the mound.
I was in the city of London. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the contemporary business world. Just a couple of steps from Fleet Street, I experienced an amazing quality of generous hospitality. A welcome that was generous, kind and of quality. I was attending an evening function in a new – to me – venue in the city. Thus, I took the option of arriving early to ensure I knew the building. I then planned to explore the area for a couple of hours before the programme commenced.
The building was massive and housed a large advisory company to the business-world with offices in 14 countries and a staff of 30,000. The entrance was spacious yet quite plain in some ways. The welcome at the foyer counter sparkled with friendliness. Having checked my name as a delegate, the officer recommended that I have some refreshment before I explored the area. He indicated a creatively and tastefully designed coffee centre. He also hinted that there may well be some strawberry gateaux on the menu. While enjoying this complimentary refreshment, one of the public relations staff came over to ensure that I was having a pleasant break.
The foyer staff had already arranged to place my travelling case in their security room and had given me a receipt-tag. Such thoughtfulness was so refreshing. The welcome continued in the same generous-style when I returned. The staff were so thoughtful of the one’s needs at every turn. I later discovered that some 3 or 4 events were taking place that same evening in that building.
In the midst of high-tech and business efficiency, one experienced a very family-like welcome that included thoughtfulness, refreshment and professionalism. This indicated a very serious commitment to make every guest feel welcome. Generosity at its best…..
It was thousands of miles away from the warm friendliness of the Pacific but it was the business-world’s replica of Pacific hospitality and much appreciated.
Image courtesy of The Hospitality Show