In any friendship, there must be give and take. A two-way street. This is especially true in cross-cultural relationships that are genuine. It is also more difficult to develop cross-culturally and I've learned not to expect very many reciprocal relationships.
But, in January, just when I was a bit discouraged that we seem to be "giving" so much and not seeing much feedback/response, there was a flood. A friend asked me out to lunch, and then insisted on paying the entire bill (which was 5% of his monthly salary). Then another couple brought us dinner. And yet another couple came to our house and cooked dinner (one of my favorite meals in the world: India's dosa).
This all happened in the span of about a week. We were really encouraged. Sometimes work overseas is hard to measure. But we do look for deepening relationships that, just as in the West, are mutually respectful. When there is dignity on both sides, there is reciprocity.
(originally posted on Sunday, March 14, 2010 as "Reciprocity" at http://spottsfamily.blogspot.com/2010/03/reciprocity.html)