Of Kuwaiti hospitality and Swiss CG’s innovation

Salahuddin Haider

AN aura of warmth and traditional Arab hospitality pervaded the vast banquet hall of a local hotel, hosting a national day reception by the Kuwaiti consul general Mohammad Al-Khaledi, an occasion, graced by the Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah, and quite a big majority of guests.
It was in fact dual celebrations, of 55th national day, 25th anniversary of Liberation of Kuwait from an unwarranted Iraqi aggression on the Gulf State in 1990. The Consul General was icon of hospitality, greeting everyone at the entrance of the hall with a disarming smile.
Attired in traditional Arab dress, called the “toap” he and three of his other colleagues posed for photographs with everyone without discrimination to high or low,, important or unimportant. But that is Arab tradition, which makes us proud. The occasion was simple, yet impressive. Speeches were avoided. Mere playing was of national anthems of the two countries were relied upon, and then the guests were treated to a feast.
Prominent among present were the consul general of United States Brian Heath, the deputy high commissioner of UK John Trucknott, his deputy Steve Crossman, the Chinese consul general May Yaou, and the consuls generals of Bangla Desh Noor-e-Helal Saifur Rehman, Japan Akira Ouchi, Russia Oleg Avedeev,Indonesia Hadi Santoso, Bahrein Ebrahim Hejazi, the new consul general of UAE, Afghan consul general Ahmed Saeed Shah, former senator Jam Karam Ali, his son Jam Farouk Ali, elite businessmen, leading media lights, and a several others.
A few days later, the Swiss Consul General Emil Wyss, and wife Arie, played host to a dinner, henceforth unknown for style to Pakistanis. It was called Raclette evening, dating back to considerably long history. Its background was interesting. Because of the extreme cold climate, snowy, and rainy in Switzerland from October to March, people used to store ration in houses to avoid being uncomfortable with the vagaries of weather.
Because of dark right at 5 O’clock afternoon, the Swiss had early dinner, cooking meat or chicken, vegetables, cheese etc right at the place of dining. That tradition was revived by Emil, a trend-setter diplomat, whose efficiency in discharge of official duties is superb, but his extremely humane nature drives him for lectures to academic institutions, to orphanages, to clumsy and smelling places where mixes up with people to convey a message to them that Swiss are different people—hospitable, lovers of human values and traditions, and extremely kind— a fact which I noticed myself during my visit to Switzerland. In this modern age of technological explosion, Emil and Arie had placed three electric hot pots right on the table, where cheese pieces were melted in the lower tier of the cooking gadget, and vegetable pieces of onions, cucumber, Simla green chili , chicken pieces, screwed to mini sticks, were bar-bqued at the upper level-. Melted cheese were spread on items in the plate, eaten with green chili, and pickle/ That gave it a delightful taste, and will perhaps remain long in memory.It was unique dinner in character and style.
Emil has held a series of such dinners for his friends in smaller groups. But since he is leaving for home opn 29th February to be at the funeral of his father, wife Arie will play the host to the last of such dinners.

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