Atithi Devo Bhawa (Guest is god)
All of you from India or of Indian origin know the meaning of the post title. As you know, I am talking about house guests. I read a post at 'Musings' which inspired me to ponder and write this post.
Over the years since my marriage, hubs and I have been entertaining house guests in myriad size, shapes and attitudes. Even living in this phoren land, there have been very few months when we did not have a guest. It has been wonderful to have friends and relatives dropping in, even if it is just for a day or two. In India, families of friends and friends of friends have stayed over to avail of our hospitality i.e. free lodging and boarding. I am not
complaining folks, it was easier in India when you had someone to cook and clean and do other household tasks for you.
In UK, similar to other western countries you don't have a butler or a maid helping you out with chores. It all falls down on your shoulder, you become the official toilet scrubber, trash collector, dishwasher and cook. In this situation 'Atithi Devo Bhava' phrase can sometimes grate on your nerves when guests are inconsiderate.
Though I am well practiced at entertaining guests, I get nervous jitters many a times when guests are about to land in. The thoughts are rushing in my mind, I get self conscious about the house and am busy scrubbing, cleaning, chopping, grocery shopping and what not. I am aflutter with emotions and activity and hubs thinks I am acting crazy.
I sometimes wonder, does the same thing happen when the situation is reversed and I am the guest and not the host.Do people really take similar pains to make their house habitable for guests?
I have my share of horror stories while visiting people over, even if it was just for dinner. Being too finicky about having a spotless loo (I think I inherited my mother's genes) I cringe at an unkempt bathroom. Always praying, that I do not come out having contracted some life threatening disease after using that darned hole in the floor. I know that not everybody is so particular as I am, but for me, hosts lose points in their hospitality ranking when I feel like a jedi after having used their facilities.
I remember an incident when we had gone for dinner at an aquaintance place and I went in the kitchen to help the host in setting the table. I saw a gigantic cobweb hanging over the stove. I would have chucked up at that instant but a firm hand on my mouth stopped the deluge from pouring out of my guts. I hummed a song in my head and dreamt of fields of sunflowers for the feeling to subside. I picked at my food trying to find an army of spiders and spiderlets in my Pulao. The poor suckers must have been mashed to a paste, cause I did not find even a spindly leg. I looked over at hubs and he was busy tucking in (I am sure most men would not lose their appetite over a cobweb).
The dessert served was my favourite 'Rassagulla' (Milk balls in Sugar Syrup). I looked lovingly at the white balls nestling in the syrup. Just to be polite, I restrained from grabbing the dish and chucking them straight in my gullet. To avoid my obsession, I looked around, gave a few smiles and lo behold!! I saw a fat chunky green house lizard precariously balanced on the wall just above the dish that held my salvation. My hopes were shattered, I excused myself and ran to the hole in the floor. That was the jewel on the crown. A public lavatory would have been cleaner except for the smell. Suddenly, I was transported to my school days and the chemistry lab, the smell of ammonia was quite over powering, since I had no option, I did use the facilities. I came out and understood how people feel after experiencing hurricanes and other natural disasters, I was all shook up. After reaching home, I scrubbed myself raw under a hot shower.
I understand that people have busy lives and sometimes do not get time to throughly clean up their homes. I don't mind a bit of dust and untidyness. I am untidy too, when it comes to my closet and taking care of the mass amounts of junkmail. What I don't understand is, being totally oblivious about hygiene. It is something which has been imprinted in my mind since childhood, scrubbing the loo and the kitchen are things which cannot be ignored. Keeping them as if they are souvenirs from some natural disaster is totally uncool.
Many of you might find me to be nit picking and overtly judgemental. But hell, that's the way I am (imagine what hubs has to put up with). Don't get scared after reading my post, I am not such a bad guest even if I seem like one, here. I will help you in setting the table, picking up the dishes after we finish eating and if I feel particulary charming on that day, will not pick at my food, search for lizards in your house or come out looking green to my gills after having used your restroom.
So, when do I get an invite?