Today I went to the bazaar to buy Christmas presents for ___, ____, _____, and a few others. (Hey, those friends and family read the blog! I can’t give myself away!) At first I had a horrible time finding a gift for ____ and _____ – everything was too _____. My first purchase ended up being (as usual) for myself. Hah! Still, it was a lucky pick. I wanted a track suit to wear on the plane. Loose, stretchy, accomodates my belly, comfy, etc…. I found some nice looking ones and immediately got in a conversation with the salesman. Because he used to sell clothes at a tourist resort, he knows enough English, German, and Russian to sell clothes. We talked about life, rent, George Bush, family — you know, the usuals over here. Long story short: He introduced me to his wife, they asked me to stay for tea, and they gave me their phone number. Her uncle works for the mayor of this city. He told me that if we ever have any visa problems or issues, to call him. Then, I showed him the long list of people I was shopping for and told him I was looking for a ______ and a ______ for my cousins. He took me to another vendor, introduced me, and promised me that this guy sold quality goods at a fair price. When I left, he and his wife assured me that we were no longer visitors, that my husband and I instead are their brother and sister.

And all I could think….. would I have ever welcomed a foreigner like that in the States? This was beyond polite. This was welcoming and genuine. (I’ve been here long enough to figure out who is genuine and who’s only offering polite tea. Let’s call that potea. Good. New word.)  Anyhow, it challenged me to think of how I live my life and how I can be more open and welcoming to people I encounter.

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