An old one from my field notes:
There is a group of Eritrean women who come to the choir I attended for a period of time, one of whom halfway through a song takes a call, which later on it transpires is from her two friends whom she was inviting, and who turned up a little later. They are all seemingly good friends, the shared language is no doubt a huge help for this particularly in a group (and a country) whose language they do not yet speak much of.
In the 5 minute break we are allowed, they are huddled around a plastic bag outside in the corridor, tucking into some food one of them has cooked and brought with them. I walk through the door, coming back from the toilet and they see me and smile and beckon me over, fingers red with food. “Come come! Have!” “Oh!” I say, going over to them, “are you sure?” “Of course!” they reply, with that facial expression that says ‘why would we not offer you our food?’ and I move towards the plastic bag (I’ve never eaten food out of a plastic bag before and it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten with my hands, especially something which is being shared by many people, and so there is an initial uncertainty in my belly which is a result of my long history of learning individual, utensil-centric habits). But I tear off some of the bready pancake (injera I later find out is its name, from going to an Ethiopian restaurant in manchester and attending a talk about food from around the world, one of which was about Ethiopian food) and wrap it around some of the orange stuff, and try and mop up some of the red stuff as well. “Potato”, is all I am told, and it’s totally delicious. “More, more!” They say, happy to be sharing it with me. “That’s so kind” I tell them, as I tear off some more pancake and wrap it round some more delicious Eritrean morsels. “How long in Glasgow?” I ask them, as we chew. “7 months”, they tell me, “6 months, me” say two of them. “Same as me!” I say, “7 months”. “Ah!”, we laugh at this shared newness and unfamiliarity with the city. I go to say more, but we are called back in to the room, so I squeeze one of the women’s shoulders in thanks and go and wash my hands.