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Signs that cross cultures

2015-07-31 07:15

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Signs that cross cultures

Holidays can be great learning experiences if we are ready and willing to learn.

Passing through Birmingham recently, a friend and I felt hungry. We were surrounded by takeaways and small eating places owned and run by people from Asia and the Middle East. We chose one establishment simply because it was nearby, looked inexpensive and promised my much-loved Biryani, a spicy food made from rice with meat or vegetables.

Biryani is a typically Muslim food in India, so the Muslims cook them better than anybody else. What I had not expected was to experience the genuine pleasure of the staff when I, obviously English, a woman and a Christian, sat down in a Muslim establishment to eat typically Muslim food. They did better than their best to make sure that I felt welcome. Suddenly a delicious snack became an amazing experience in inter-faith relations without anybody speaking a single word about our differences in religious belief.

At a time when understanding between religions and culture is an urgent need, we do not always need to undertake elaborate projects in order to make a difference.

We do not always recognise the enormous significance of food. If I am willing to accept and eat food from your hands, it is a wordless sign that I trust, accept and understand your gesture of goodwill and friendship. It crosses all cultures, nationalities, religions and languages.

A smile has the same effect, doesn’t it?

Isn’t it easy to build a new world through our readiness to smile at each other?

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