Hospitality

A text from a resident of Slemani describing the life of a young woman as she welcomes guests into her home

“Hi,how are you. my name is Awaz. I’m a ‘house-girl’. [1]

چۆنی، من ناوم ئاوازه‌. کچی ماڵه‌وه‌م.

Today I’m going to talk to you

ئه‌مرۆ باسی پێشوازی

about welcoming guests in Slemani.

میوانتان بۆ ئه‌که‌م له‌ سلێمانی.

Some guests call me before they come,

هه‌ندێک میوان ته‌له‌فۆنم بۆ ئه‌که‌ن پێش ئه‌وه‌ی بێن

but sometimes they don’t call.

به‌ڵام هه‌ندێک جار ته‌له‌فۆنم بۆ ناکه‌ن.

If they come suddenly, it’s not a big problem,

ئه‌گه‌ر له‌پر بێن، ئه‌مه‌ کێشه‌یه‌کی گه‌وره‌ نیه‌

because I can immediately prepare tea,

چونکه‌ ئه‌توانم یه‌کسه‌ر چا ئا‌ما‌ده‌ بکه‌م

and after that, food.

دوایش نان ئاماده‌ بکه‌م.

But if there are many guests

به‌ڵام ئه‌گه‌ر میوانه‌کان زۆر بن

or if men are with them,

یان پیاویان له‌گه‌ڵ بێت له‌وانه‌یه‌

it will perhaps be a little unpleasant

تۆزێ نا‌خۆش بێت

because preparing food for a group isn’t easy and takes time.

چونکه‌ ئاماده‌ کردنی خواردن بۆ کومه‌ڵێک ئاسان نیه و کاتی پێویسته‌‌

If guests come without warning,

ئه‌گه‌ر میوان له‌پر بێت،

I go straight away to another room and change my clothes.

یه‌کسه‌ر ئه‌ڕۆمه‌ ژوورێکی تر و خۆم ئه‌گۆڕم.

I wear a pretty house dress,[2]

ماکسییه‌کی جوان له‌به‌ر ئه‌که‌م،

not something old or short.

نه‌ک شتێکی کۆن یان کورت.

Normally it’s not necessary to wear outside clothes,

پێویست نیه‌ جلی ده‌ره‌وه‌ له‌به‌ر بکه‌م

just something simple.

ته‌نها شتێکی ساده‌ له‌به‌ر ئه‌که‌م له‌ کاتێکی ئاسایدا.

But during feast times,[3]

به‌ڵام له‌ کاتی جه‌‌ژناندا

Kurdish people wear something special at home.

خه‌ڵکی کوردستان جلی تایبه‌ت له‌به‌ر ئه‌که‌ن له‌ ماڵه‌وە

When guests come to my house

کاتێک میوان بێت بۆ ماڵمان،

I say,

پێیان ئه‌ڵێم

“Welcome! Welcome! Please, come inside! Sit down!”

به‌خێر بێن! به‌خێر بێن! فەرموون، وه‌رنه‌ ژووره‌وه‌! دانیشن!

They reply,

ئه‌وان ئه‌لێن

“May you live! Thank you!”

بژیت! سوپاس.

By my happy face I express respect to the guests.

من ڕێزێکی زۆر له‌ میوان ئه‌گرم ڕوخۆشم له‌گه‌ڵیان.

All at the same time we say to one another,

له‌هه‌مان کاتدا به‌ یەکتری ئه‌ڵێین

“How are you? Are you well? How is your health? Why haven’t I seen you?”

چۆنن؟ باشن؟ ئه‌حواڵتان چۆنه‌؟ بۆ دیار نیین؟

We reply to each other:

وەڵامی‌ یه‌کتری ئه‌ده‌ینه‌وه

“We’re well, thank you. We are all well, may you live. May you be healthy.”

باشین، سوپاس. هه‌مومان باشین بژیت. سه‌لامەت بیت

I take them to the guest room[4]

من ئه‌وان ئه‌بەم بۆ ژووری دانیشتن

or to the same room that we are sitting in.

یا له‌ هه‌مان ژوور دائه‌نیشین یان له‌ حه‌وشه‌ دائه‌نیشین

I say,

ئه‌لێم

“Sit down!” or “Sit down![5]” if there is more than one person.

(دانیشه‌!) یان (دانیشن!) بۆ زیاتر له‌ یه‌ک که‌س.

We start to talk about their family or their health.

دەست ده‌که‌ین به‌ قسه‌کردن له‌ باره‌ی خێزانه‌که‌ی ئه‌وان یان تەندروستیان

If a man comes on his own, I say,

ئه‌گه‌ر پیاوێک بوو ته‌نها، ئه‌لێم

“Where are your wife and children?”

(خێزانه‌که‌ت و منداڵه‌کانت چۆنن؟)

Or sometimes I say,

یان هه‌ندێک جار ئه‌لێم

“How is your mother?”

دایکت چۆنه‌؟

If a woman comes without her children, I say,

ئه‌گه‌ر ژنێک بێت به‌ بێ منداڵه‌کانی ئه‌لێم

“How are you husband and children?” or

مێرد و منداڵه‌که‌ت چۆنن، یان

“How is your mother?”

دایکت چۆنه‌؟

If a girl[6] comes, I say,

ئه‌گه‌ر کچ بێت ئه‌ڵێم

“How is your family?”

ماڵه‌وه‌تان چۆنن؟

We all say to each other,

هه‌مومان به‌ یەکتری ئەڵێین

“Why haven’t we seen you? Why haven't you asked after me?"

Then, I go quickly to bring them water.

بۆ دیار نیین؟ بۆ له‌ که‌س ناپرسنه‌وه؟

ئینجا ئاویان بۆ ئه‌هێنم

If it’s summer,

ئه‌گه‌ر هاوین بێت،

the water needs to be very cold,

ئه‌بێت ئاوه‌که‌ زۆر سارد ‌بێت،

or I bring them juice or soda.

یان شه ربه‌تیان بۆ ئه‌هێنم، یان ساردیان بۆ ئه‌هێنم

If it’s evening or if they stay a long time then

ئەگه‌ر عه‌سر بۆ ماوه‌یه‌کی زۆر مانه‌وه‌ ئه‌وه‌ هه‌ندێک جار.

I sometimes bring tea[7] with culicha,[8] or sunflower seeds.[9]

چا له‌گه‌ڵ کولیچه‌یان بۆ ئه‌هێنم، یان گڵۆبه‌رۆژه ده‌هێنم.

If those things aren’t ready then fruit

ئه‌گه‌ر ئه‌وانه‌ ئاماده‌ نه‌بو، ئه‌وه‌ میوه‌

(watermelon, cantaloupe, apples),

شوتی، کاڵه‌ک، سێو...

if I have it, I bring it.

ئه‌گه‌ر هه‌بوو ئه‌یهێنم‌.

Afterwards, they sit and talk.

دوای دانیشتن و قسه‌ کردن.

If they want to go, I say,

ئه‌گه‌ر ویستیان بڕۆن پێیان ئه‌لێم

“Sit down, stay here tonight.[10]

دانیشن، ئه‌م شه‌و لێره‌ بن.

I would like you to stay.”

حه‌ز ئه‌که‌م لێره‌ بن.

They say,

ئه‌وانیش ئه‌لێن

“Thank you. It’s very late, we must go.”

سوپاس. زۆر دره‌نگه‌ ئه‌بێت بڕۆین.

Sometimes the women say,

هه‌ندێک جار ژنه‌کان ده‌ڵێن

“We left our children.

منداڵمان به‌ جێ هێشتوه.‌

It's better to go home.

بڕۆینه‌وه‌ ماڵه‌وه‌ باشتره‌.

It’s better that we go home. Good bye.”

ئه‌بێت بڕۆینه‌وه‌. ماڵتان ئاوا بێت. خوا حافیز

If they want to stay the night,

ئه‌گه‌ر بیانه‌وێ بۆ شه‌و

then we need to prepare food and we need to know how many people there are.

بمێننه‌وه‌ ئه‌وه‌ ده‌بێت خواردن ئاماده‌ بکه‌ین، ئه‌بێت بزانین چه‌ند که‌سن

If it’s many, we must prepare lots of rice and shla,[11]

ئەگه‌ر زۆر بوون ئه‌بێت برنج و شله‌ی زۆر‌ ئاماده‌ بکه‌ین

and, if there is any, chicken or meat.

ئه‌گه‌ر هه‌بوو مریشک یان گۆشت ئاماده‌ بکه‌ین.

If there isn’t, then just rice and shla.

ئه‌گه‌ر نه‌بوو، ته‌نها برنج و شله‌.

After the meal, the guests sit and I make them tea.

دوای نانخواردن میوانه‌کان دائه‌نیشن، چایان بۆ لێ ئه‌نێین

After they drink tea, they talk.

دوای چاخواردنه‌وه‌ وقسه‌کردن.

Sometimes we go to [watch] TV.

هه‌ندێک جار ئه‌چینه‌ ‌به‌ر ته‌له‌فیزیۆن.

Afterwards, if we have it, I bring them fruit.

پاشان ئه‌گه‌ر میوه‌ هه‌بێت میوه‌یان‌ بۆ ئه‌هێنم.

When it’s time to sleep, I set out the beds.[12]

کاتی خه‌و جێگه‌ دائه‌خه‌ین.

The women [sleep] apart [from the men] if there are a lot of them.

ژنه‌کان به‌ جیا‌ ئه‌گه‌ر ژما‌ره‌یان زۆر بوو.

If it is one family then all of them sleep together in one room.

ئەگه‌ر یه‌ک خێزان بوو ئه‌وه‌ هه‌مویان پێکه‌وه‌ له‌ یه‌ک ژوردا‌ ئه‌خه‌ون

When they need the toilet, the women ask,

بۆ کاتی ته‌والیت ژنه‌کان پرسیارم لێ ئه‌که‌ن

“Where is the toilet?”[13]

ته‌والیت له‌ کوێیه‌؟

And I show them.

منیش پشانیان ئه‌ده‌م.

In the morning I get up a little earlier [than them].

بۆ به‌یانی تۆزێك زووتر هه‌ڵئه‌ستم له‌ خه‌و.

I prepare breakfast: bread[14] and tea, yogurt[15] or cheese, or eggs.

نانی به‌یانی ئاماده‌ ده‌که‌م: نان و چا، ماست، یان په‌نیر، یان هێڵکه‌.

Then they get up, they eat, and they get dressed to go.

دوای ئه‌وه‌ هه‌ستان له‌ خه‌و، نان ده‌خۆن، خۆیان ئاماده‌ ده‌که‌ن بۆ ڕۆیشتن

Then they say,

دوای ئه‌وه‌ ئه‌لێن

“Goodbye. May your house be blessed”.

خوا حافیز و ماڵتان ئاوا بێت.

I say,

من ئه‌ڵێم

“I want you stay here tonight too!”

حه‌ز ئه‌که‌م ئه‌م شه‌ویش لێره‌ بمێنمه‌وه‌.

They say,

ئه‌وانیش ئه‌ڵێن

“We must go. Our house is empty. Goodbye”.

ئه‌بێت بڕۆین. ماڵه‌که‌مان چۆڵه‌ .خوا حافیز.

And I say,

منیش ئه‌ڵێم

“Ok. Goodbye.”

باشه‌، خوا حافیز.

The guests say again,

میوانه‌كان دوباره‌ ئه‌ڵێن

“Goodbye. Don’t trouble yourself,

خوا حافیز! ئه‌زیه‌ت مه‌کێشه‌،

don’t come outside”.

مه‌یه‌ ده‌ره‌وه!

I go outside to the gate with them.[16]

من ئه‌ڕۆم بۆ ده‌رگه‌که‌ی ده‌ره‌وه‌ له‌گه‌ڵیان.

We say to each other,

به‌ یه‌کتری ئه‌ڵێین

“Goodbye, goodbye.”

خوا حافیز! خوا حافیز!


[1] An unmarried girl or woman who’s work primarily consists of taking care of her family’s home and guests

[2] A long-sleeved, floor-length dress worn at home, often also used as sleepwear

[3] Feast times include breaking the fast each evening for the thirty-day long fast of Ramazan, the three-day celebration at the conclusion of Ramazan, Nawroz ‘New Years’ celebrated March 21st, and Qurban. See National holidays

[4] Kurdish homes often have a special sitting room for guests and a second sitting room for the family

[5] The second “Sit down!” is in the plural imperative in Sorani

[6] An unmarried girl or woman, of any age

[7] Strong, sweet black tea, often brewed with cinnamon and cardamom

[8] Date- or walnut and cinnamon-filled round cookies

[9] In shells

[10] Kurdish homes almost always have extra bedding ready to make any number of guest comfortable.

[11] Stewed vegetables (most commonly beans, okra, or squash) usually flavored with tomato paste, oil, and salt. Shla is served in a deep bowl to each guest which they spon onto their rice.

[12] Thin mattresses that are folded and stored in wardrobes during the daytime.

[13] Using the toilet is to be avoided during short visits. Individuals should ask only a person of the same gender about the location of a toilet.

[14] Either round flat bread or white fluffy bread rolls.

[15] Natural yoghurt, served in small bowls and eaten by tearing off pieces of bread and dipping them into the yogurt.

[16] An act which shows honor to one’s guests