on Saturday evening, i took my dad out for an alfresco dinner at supply&demand, esplanade, while mum was at work. we ran into an American colleague out with her significant other, who were on the hunt for dessert. i invited them to join us, and the conversation was a lot of inter-cultural fun. (great they spoke mandarin, so my dad wasn’t left out of the conversation)
i paid for the meal, amidst much protests from my colleague. it wasn’t something to give in on – it is a matter of ‘face’ for my dad, to treat the guests. this hasn’t been easy to learn though.
i remember this time back in secondary school when my friends came over and we ordered pizza. my parents paid for the food and didn’t accept our offer to go dutch. when they left, i threw one of the biggest (pettiest, too) tantrums in my life. i couldn’t understand why my parents would do that – my friends lived in private housing, their parents earned far more than my parents did, and we always went dutch when we were at theirs. my parents didn’t bother engaging me. they said, simply, ‘their parents didn’t teach them to be gracious hosts. you do not have to be like them.’
this struggle to share has been made easier now that i have a stable, decent income. also, having been the recipient of much kindness and good hosting as well, i began to learn that it really is a joy and a privilege to be able to buy another a meal or two.