Lessons I learnt from Bedouins
Bedouin. Till the time I visited Jordan, this word had conjured an image of mysterious desert-bound nomad, dressed almost like a Sheikh.
About 40% of Jordanians are Bedouins. I met few of them in Petra and Wadi Rum … some had camels or donkeys to take us around, some were guides and some other were businessmen. Their way of looking at life while still connected to roots are things to learn for anybody.
Here’s what I learnt:
1. Modern Jordanians have a strong connection to their culture, heritage and ancient code of conduct. The men proudly wear Keffiyeh, the red checkered scarf locally known as the Shemagh mhadab, indicating they are Jordanian.
2. In the past, the Bedouins used to be nomads, traveling through the desert looking for food and water. Now some of them live in small settlements in the deserts. In Jordan it is compulsory for every child to go to school till grade twelve, and so now we see that the entire present generation is educated, if not the earlier.
3. Bedouins are famous for their hospitality. If you happen to visit a Bedouin tent, the first thing the host would do is to offer you a cup of hot aromatic Arabic tea. Coffee is also traditional but tea is considered to be more social. A fire always keeps going … for the next pot of tea or coffee.
4. If you are crossing the desert and pass by a Bedouin settlement or even a tent, a Bedouin will offer to host you for three days and three nights. Only at the end of this period, he would ask you about your business. Isn’t it a noble way to treat your guests or strangers? Just for the record, you cannot stay in his family’s tent as this is a private area. Strangers are welcomed, but staying over in host’s personal tent is not welcome. You got to sleep in a separate tent.
5. If you set up a tent in desert near someone else, you must invite them to dinner. If you are new to your Bedouin neighborhood, then you must introduce yourself and invite your neighbors to a feast. After all, good relations with one’s neighbors means happiness. 🙂
6. The three elements essential to Bedouin living, namely, water, food and fire must be shared. Of course, camels as well. Even if you do not have plenty of them, it’s still your duty to share them with others.
7. Bedouin are not gypsies, most of them have permanent houses and they are affluent. But they enjoy camping and often bring in their families, pitch tents and live out in the desert for a few weeks.
8. Bedouins are fun loving people. They have their own quotes, with some of them having deeper meanings.
What is the secret of happiness? “Life is short, don’t make it difficult.”
Bedouin compliment for a woman? “You look like a camel.” Hint: You can see how much they love their camel.
As a host they feed you well, placing across meals much more than you can ever eat. So much so that they themselves joke, “You are our guest; you are our prisoner.” 😀
Have you ever experienced Bedouin Hospitality? I would love to hear about your experiences!
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