It is not about quantity, but quality, and make every meet-up counts!

My uncle and aunty from Canada are spending some time in Penang right now, and this is the time when I think how nice it would be to join them in Penang. It would be great to rekindle the bonding and connections with them, and most of all to enjoy the Penang street food with them.

Right now, there were emails going to and fro about when to meet, where to eat, who to organise, whose house it should be etc.  Looks like it is going to be a fun gathering over there…

While soaking in all the fun gatherings from a far, I asked myself the question – why do we travel such a distance to our home town? What is the purpose of our visits?

Is it to rekindle our relationships with our birth place? To reconnect with our relatives? To reconnect with ourselves through our cultural food and to revisit the places that we grew up in?

In another words, what is the purpose of visiting our birth country?

Have you ever thought of that?

I think this is a good question to ask ourselves every time we board the plane heading back to our birth country, don’t you think?

For me personally, it is to reconnect with family and friends, while at the same time, to reconnect with all the food, and places that I grew up with – in other words, to reconnect to my roots.

One of the highlights of visiting relatives back home is they tend to cook up a storm when welcoming us with a round of sumptuous array of Penang’s delicacies. Most times, they will ensure many relatives come together, aiming to reconnect and to catch up with us.

However, while the guests enjoy the food and the company, there will be somebody busying themselves trying to get the food ready for serving, tables to set, drinks to serve etc., all while trying to entertain the guests and feed the hungry children at the same time.

This is not an uncommon situation. There is always potential for overdoing with the cooking and hosting, and by the end of the day, the host will feel overwhelmed and tired, and the guests could possibly feel bad about the process.

As a result, there is one very important element that many have been missing – the purpose of the visit.  It is to spend QUALITY TIME! with them in the first place, right?

Secondly, normally when we make an appointment with relatives to meet up for a meal to catch up, the chances of them coming in a large group is very high (Asian way). The group may consist of their children, extended families, sometimes even a domestic helper etc. We know they meant well, as they may assume that we may want to meet everyone.

This process also defeats the purpose of the catch-up, as instead of an intimate and meaningful catch up, it may turn out to be very casual meet and greet, thus losing out on quality time connecting and bonding with each other.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that you have made the time and travelled long distances to reconnect and to bond with them, you may only have a few days to spend with them. So do make it clear that you prefer to have one on one time with your relatives (and not with too many people).

How do you overcome these issues?

  • Do take-aways as an alternatives.
  • Find comfortable eateries to make the meeting more pleasant.
  • Go for quality smaller group meet ups.

These intimate gatherings are very special; it is not about fancy food nor it need to involve too many people getting together … It is about spending quality one to one time with the special person.

That’s what is all about right?

DEEP connections and bonding take time to build; it takes more than just a quick hello or busy ourselves slaving in the kitchen. It is about making that special one on one connection with the people you care about.

So the next time when you are back visiting families, set the tone on your ‘meetings’ and really make each meeting counts!