Another wonderful episode of life in Afghanistan from Mary Smith, about the intricacies of etiquette at dinner parties and the fellowship of women… As always a wonderful post and I am sure you will enjoy.
Islamic rules, and the traditions of the country, dictate that hospitality is shown to guests. People, therefore, felt obliged to invite the foreigner round for dinner. Some would have felt easier fulfilling their obligations had I been a man, unsure as they were of the etiquette in dealing, on a social footing, with a foreign woman. Hussain, and usually, at least one of the others from the clinic would accompany me to the dinner party – mehmani.
Some men would greet me with a handshake, although often this was the merest brushing of palms – as though the touch of a woman may necessitate some kind of decontamination procedure to be carried out later. I soon made a policy decision not to offer my hand unless the man offered his first after several embarrassing situations in which I would extend my hand, realise that the man did…
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