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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hospitality

I and hubby absolutely love having people over to our place for hanging out and no visitor is allowed to leave without a meal if we have our way with them! :) Even before we were married , we had decided that our married house would always be open to everyone and I am glad we have managed to keep that going. Much of it we inherited from our own parents especially our respective fathers who loved entertaining and yes, even unannounced guests were welcome to sup with us anytime of the day.

From how we look at it , is that extending hospitality to guests is a part of our heart, our ministry as a couple, if you will. We love to serve. We cannot imagine saying no to anyone, no matter how inconvenient it could get. So we have entertained and provided for people even if it has meant cancelling our own pre-planned appointments, driving out of the way to pick up folks who dont own a car or are lost, staying up really late at night, cooking with dietary needs in mind and the like. When we invite people over we take great pains to clean, cook and serve with great joy and excitement. Hubby spares no expense in getting the best produce, especially if arrival is expected, but, even if it is unannounced, I ensure that I produce the best I can. We make sure our house looks neat and welcoming, the towels and the toiletory laid out in the guest toliet, colours and books for any kids expected, good music, good lighting, comfortable ambience and of course as good a menu as I ,with my limited skills can manage. Mostly we dont even notice if we have been thanked and appreciated although almost everyone always does. I know we have friends who love visiting us, who enjoy our hospitality but ever so often I also notice that it tends to overwhelm some folks. They either get embarassed or plain ignore our efforts-eat and just leave!! Or what about guests who have abused our hospitality blatantly? I cannot go in to detail about this misusing our hospitality part because it calls for a seperate post. I have had family members and friends who have been invited with great love and who have in turn left us cold with absolutely no show of any feelings once the party's over! I am not saying my guests need to gush and go on about how lovely everything was , even if I say so myself :) , but come on show me some manners!!

If I have been invited to someone's place I would be atleast polite enough to thank the host and compliment them on the food offered to me. I really have no idea how to react to people who come and leave with not even a small thank you! Has anyone come across this kind of weird behaviour? One very close relative was visitng us with her family, it was a surprise visit but I managed to cook up some nice stuff for all of us. Laid the table with my best plates and napkins et all. All long as I was cooking, she kept commenting why was I getting so bothered, why was I cooking so much -which is fine, I appreciate her concern, maybe she was embarassed having dropped in unannounced. But not once did she offer to help me out and when she fnished eating, she got up and walked off from the dining room. I was left to clear all the plates and dishes. Now in the Indian culture, we dont really expect our guests to remove their plates etc, but she was family!! I feel she could have offered at least! Later, when she left, no thank you nothing. See, my point is ?Ofcourse I didnt expect her to go ga-ga over my cooking, which is nothing to write home about anyway, but it is all about remembering our social graces! I will continue to have visitors because I love it, but once in a while an insensitive guest leaves me hurt and bewildered!

Then the other week we had overnight guests from out of country. Again, we went all out. I made sure the guest bedroom and bathroom were spic and span with pretty linen, flowers and accessories, basically the works. I should have probably not bothered because these folks trashed the guest room before leaving! I couldnt help but think that my house was literally used like a cheap hotel room! The bed was left dirty and unmade, towels and scraps of paper, plastic bags from their shopping left on the bed, pillows thrown around somewhere(?), the bed side lamp left on, toliets wet and messy with shampoo bottle left opened, toothpaste gone (somewhere?) the bed side accessories like candles and stuff moved away and left on the floor to make space for their personal belongings like specs,loose change etc....the curtains drawn and windows open inspite of me warning them of dust storm outside....topped off with no thank you as they left our home. Is this how we behave when we visit someone's home? I take great pains to keep a neat and a pretty house. That is my pride and my calling and I am taken aback when guests like the one's I described cant figure it out and dont seem to care! It is a simple matter of being considerate! Goodness the number of times I must have checked and re-checked the guest room for any signs of dust, dirt, clutter and discomfort! And I would like to add that I am heavily pregnant amidst all this. I tried not show my dismay to my husband , but I think he knew it and even before I could say anything at all and he immediately apologised for his friends' behaviour. The friends in question are not bachelors although why should that be an excuse for living like a pig in someone else's house pray tell? They are married and I wonder are they not learning anything from their wives? My mother always used to say that I could teach a lot to my husband around the house. Just like we teach our children, husbands too have a lot to learn or shall I say un-learn from their bachelor days. Like, taking a small gift for the host, offering to help the lady of the house, not being loud and obnoxious and bossy in a social gathering, complimenting the hostess on the food etc.

Thankfully my husband is very well groomed, but yes, there have been so many changes that I have brought in to his life and his lifestyle....he appreciates a clean house, a pretty house, a fridge that always has food for visitors, a guest bed which is always ready to be used, fresh linen, a willingness to cook and serve no matter how tired I am, a pot of tea and snacks always available, these are qualities which we always expected of each other and so I also know he wont be behaving like some of our guests have done :) when he does visit without me, because trust me, I am not letting him get away with teen like behaviour such as that! Not that his mother did not have all of the above qualities but he shows me his appreciation that I as his wife , also carry on the important tradition of hospitality. How about some folks doing their bit as guests when they visit us? Cant help but generalise that we women do add that extra bit of sensitivity and chivalry to our men folk eh? But on the other hand what about my rude female relative? So really, this must be about our hearts not our gender maybe? Some of us just dont get it !!

''As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord'' Joshua 24:15 reminds me that I must carry on, whomever we serve , in whichever manner, we must as if we are serving the Lord!

Excellent...feeling better now.

2 comments:

Homecooked said...

Nice post :) Staying in Bombay our place was the hub for all international travels. Dont even get me started on ungrateful realtives. It hurts but now I dont go out of my way to do things. I only do things which I can manage on my own. But since you enjoy entertaining dont let that stop you from doing what you love for a few undeserving people :)

what can I say?! said...

I totally feel your pain. Been there done that!