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Friday, November 13, 2009

No Bread Needed...

You might find this funny, but many were not laughing when this happened. What seemed like an innocent meaning of words is actually a cross cultural dilema.

A few days ago while sipping coffee in a cafe, a friend told me a story about his friend who worked for an international company who was recently promoted. He invited his colleagues and boss to a home cooked dinner to celebrate. His wife was so thrilled and grateful, she tried her best to prepare everything, knowing that some of her husband's colleagues are expats, she tried to cater to everyone's desire. She was being 'very Indonesian', trying too hard to please everybody and being polite.

The dinner was a hit. Food was excellent. She prepared Indonesian spicy dishes and European dishes so that none of her husband's weak stomach colleagues woul d get ill. She even provided wines and beers which she her self never drank in her life.

After the dinner, while everyone was having deserts, one of his husband's colleagues stood up, raised his glass and said; "Everyone, I'd like to make a toast to our promoted friend!"

The wife suddenly was supprised and stood up. "No, no, I'll make the toast", she said. She then hurried off to the kitchen, leaving everyone's jaw dropped.

"My wife just misunderstood", the man said to his colleauge, the was a small laughter and the toast continued, that is until they heard something fell from the kitchen and a woman sobbing. The husband quickly excused himself and ran to the kitchen to find his wife on the floor crying with an empty breadbox.

"There's no bread" she said while crying.

Laugh all you want, but this is a sample how avoiding other people's culture can cause such awkward moments. Indonesian are not accustom to any tradition of toasting, and so it is best avoided or if you really need to make one, do tell everyone what its all about.

On the other hand, the wive tries so hard to understand her husband's colleague's culture and try to provide everyone with what they need that it over stressed her. Okay, she's really a prefectionist, but in this case you need a to make understanding other people's culture and your own on a level and equal ground.