I had tried to contact my host on multiple occasions, but he did not answer. I wanted to see if he was cooking for me and I wanted to find out where some liquor stores were to bring some wine. He never answered, but I had a feeling that he had cooked something.
I walked in the door to find him and his roommate sitting on the floor with two big plates of rice and two glasses of coca-cola. With a big smile, my host said he had cooked some Arabic food for me. I walked in the kitchen and looked inside the pot and saw something that looked like wings. I figured it was chicken wings, but after looking closer I realized it definitely was not chicken.
I knew that I was in trouble because I knew it was something I did not want to eat or try. I am not open minded when it comes to meats at all.
He kindly respond that it is pigeon. I think to myself of the disgusting pigeons in New York and how much I can not stand them-let alone eating one. I sincerely apologize to him as I feel so bad that he prepared this nice meal and I am declining it.
He feels just as bad as me and says that he will take me out for some nice seafood. I tell him that it is not necessary as I will just go do some swimming and I already ate a few things. He insists on taking me out. We stop and pick up some wine for later and we order a whole fish with 5 different sides. It was the best fish and best meal of Malaysia. I can not believe how sweet he is and I realize from this interaction and my other ones how amazing the Dubai/Middle Eastern hospitality is. He tells me I really should go to Dubai as people would take care of me and they have genuine interest in learning from me and do not care about money because they have so much already. His warmth and kindness makes me want to visit Dubai. We address the fear that many Americans including myself grow up feeling towards the Middle East. And rather than feeling fear, I now feel open minded towards traveling and exploring these countries.
These are the beautiful moments of traveling: addressing your stereotypes, cultural biases, and learning and growing from them****