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Jason Holliston
 
Thursday, August 12, 2004  
Embarrassing Kindness

Michael Totten has been back from Tunisia for a while now. If you haven't read his two long posts he wrote when he was in that North African country, go to his blog and read up -- it's really great writing. Yesterday, his essay about the incredible kindness of the Tunisians was put up on Tech Central Station. It's definitely worth finding some time, getting a cup of coffee and absorbing. To sum up, now I want to go myself. Here's a short excerpt:

It was then that I made my mistake. I paid the bill. It was nothing. Food in Tunisia is cheap, especially in the south. But I seriously -- and unknowingly -- messed with the Arab code.

I heard about it the next day. "You embarrassed me" M'hamed said, "when you paid for my dinner!" It wasn't a show. He really was cross. I felt like an ass and apologized, told him in my country he who invites pays. "You are not in your country," he said.

It came up again the following day and again the day after that. He just couldn't get past it. Finally, I put my hand on his shoulder and said "M'hamed, I'm sorry. I promise not to pay for you ever again." I could never say that to an American friend. But it made M'hamed feel better.


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