Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Taken for a Treat – Cultural Shock 2

“Come let us go and have a bite mate”, Said Charles.

I came for the work after having dinner and said, “Thanks mate, but I had my dinner”

He insisted that the burger served in the Hungry Jacks is very yummy, so I followed him. The Hungry Jacks was nearby only and there were so many people eating there in the restaurant. We managed to find an empty chair somewhere in the middle of the room and the table was not cleaned because the cleaners seemed to be very busy besides the chair was just vacated.

There were remnants of bread crumbs, half eaten burger and half empty cola paper cups. I thought that the remnants if not thrown would easily satisfy a poor - hungry man. Charles ordered for me and as well as for himself despite my saying that I do not want to eat. The burger was very yummy just as he told me. I was eating slowly because firstly, I was enjoying the taste like that of a connoisseur of the wine and secondly, I was not hungry. He finished eating and left. I thanked him for the treat and told him that I will come after I finish eating.

As I was leaving the place I was told to pay. I apologized profusely and said that I thought it must have been already paid. Luckily the price of the food was only $3.75 and I was carrying $5 in my pocket, just in case. I paid myself and later shared the story with my friends from Bhutan. They told me that in Australia unlike Bhutan the individual pays for his/her own food whether one’s friend invited you for a bite or not. Many of them had a similar story to share but a bit late for me to take the lessons.

Here in Bhutan if a friend takes you to the restaurant, it is taken for granted that one who had invited you is going to pay for you. If it is insisted more, the guarantee for paying by the inviter becomes even more. Isn’t it? But not in foreign countries, I guess.

It happened due to the cultural difference and I promised myself that if I do not feel like eating I would stop accompanying a friend to the hungry jacks or Mc Donald or Sub Ways.

After few weeks, again during the night shift I was working with Andy; he asked me whether I would like to go for a bite or two. I denied and told him the story of me and Charles and how five dollars that I carried for ‘just in case’ saved me. He was surprised by my story and told me that it is him who should be paying the bill for he was the one who took me for a bite. His reply surprised and puzzled me even more because now I had the feeling that it is not an Aussie custom, but I think that it depended on the individual and his surroundings during his upbringings. Australia is a big multicultural country with people from all around the globe settled there.

Andy and me went to the hungry jacks and had a nice dinner. He cleared the bills. But this time I had $10 in my pocket – just in case. Later, I learned that he was the proprietor of the company that I was working for. He offered me for a job in Sydney because I worked too hard not because I m hard working, but when you are working at night it is better to work hard and keep the sleep at bay, as such your sleeping time is getting screwed even if you do not do anything. He must be impressed by that.

It is better to ask from the beginning – who is going to bear the bills if you are invited for a bite, mate.