Have you already finished your lunch?

If you ever have an experience of visiting a Burmese friend’s house in Myanmar, you will remember that you had been asked a particular question. “Have you already had your lunch/dinner?” is the question that we Burmese always ask our visitors whenever they happen to visit us at meal time. This is not because we are inquisitive of our visitors. This is a simple gesture of good will. We Burmese believe that it is rude to have your lunch/dinner alone while there is a visitor. We always offer our visitors to join our feast, and we really mean it. Some foreigners might think it is rude to ask somebody whether he already has his meal; one of my foreign friends already asked me this question. The fact is, we Burmese people are always generous to our friends, and really want them to join us at our lunch/dinner. This is more obvious in rural towns and villages, where the host will try his best to make your stay as comfortable as possible. I have been traveling a lot in the rural areas of Myanmar, and many times, I was obliged to stay overnight on the way either because of bad weather or broken bus. I just knocked on a stranger’s house in a strangers’ village and ask for one night’s shelter. I was never turned down. They gladly offered me a clean and nice lodging with nice food, although they have never known me before. This is a true spirit of Myanmar which is starting to be disappearing in the cities.

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