Candid, not Candied

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Day 4 : Where's the guest room please?

It’s time to take out some extra bed spreads, fancy dinner sets, teacups and hangers from the store room because you are expecting guests. And you are happy. Happy since it will be a welcome change from your monotonously drab life. Who doesn’t like a house full of people chattering, laughing, gossiping and having a good time? The answer is “me”!

Guests are always knocking down your door if you are a kind of host that makes them feel welcome, at home, at ease and be courteous to them. You are gracious, hospitable and tend to their every big and small needs. Rather, you are expected to be so.

Throughout my childhood, I remember my family playing host to so many guests that I have lost count of them. Like my mother always puts it “Our doors are always open, like that of a temple.” We have seen them all. Long term, short term and visiting guest; of which, visiting guests were the most frequent ones. We had a string of families that would just drop in to say a ‘hello’ and the ‘hellos’ would usually last from 6 in the evening to 11 at night.

Visiting guest were my personal favorites. I was always expected to carry countless trays of water, tea, coffee and food items made by my mother. This often meant a couple of hours respite from a gruesome task of studying. And also, the guests always had word or two of praise for me. Our neighbours were accustomed to see the ever growing pile of footwear in front of our main door. That was only after we riff-raffed their belief that there was some religious function at our place.  

My key role here was to help my mother in the kitchen with assembling and arranging the various plates and teaming them up with teacups. Sometimes I would be allowed to carry the tray to the honorable guests. It is a surprise how you enjoy doing something during your childhood and determinedly despise it when you grow up. After I grew up I underlined this to my mother “I don’t like to be a waitress with a silly grin on my face!”

Excuse me, for I tend to digress every once in a while.

Other than disrupting my study timings, these guests also turned our dinner time upside down. Me and my elder brother would often stuff bhajiyas in our hungry mouths and forget about the dinner. This was another advantage, which allowed us to flout dinner rules for a valid reason. However, as time passed by; and we grew up; and the uncles and aunties got caught up with their own kids’ college and higher studies plans, the number of guests dropping in started dwindling.  

Then there used to be guests who would stop over for a day or two. Our house would usually serve them as a temporary stop before embarking on to their onward journey to their final destination. More often than not, they never “made the room reservation” in advance. They would call up at the 11th hour to announce their arrival, and before we could get our mattresses out, they would ring our door bell.

Since ours was a two-bedroom house, me and my brother would often be kicked out of the room and made to bunk in the living room. Unless if it was too hot, we would sleep in our parents rooms for the sake of air conditioner. I pretty much disliked having to give up my room, even if for a night, but I knew better than to complain. Of course, the guests were always at an advantage. Where else would they find a room for a night with comfortable double bed, breakfast at any time, laundry and phone service - everything “complimentary”?

Situation would be fairly complex when these guests would be your obligations to past favors. Some close friend would call up and say “Hey, s/he’s my friend. Would you please...?” The question always remained unfinished, for my parents never thought twice before helping out someone in dire need. Their answer was always “Yes”. Our parents would brief us some basic details about the guests in order to avoid any kind of faux pas by us kids. But one thing was for sure, with such unacquainted guests, even my parents soon reached a cul de sac.   

The last category of guests that stepped into our house were usually the relatives and very close family-friends. Some relatives were perennially fun to be with, while some were a royal pain in the... let’s just say, all the wrong places! Free stay and service is already assumed. Only it turns ugly when they fill the house so much with their presence that you hardly feel it is your home and not theirs.

It all begins in the morning when they wake up. That is, if they actually do, without you having to bang down your bedroom door. In desperate attempts, we have had to even call them on their cell phones to get them out of their dreamland! Their taste buds do not suit that of yours. So instead of declining politely before being served, they empty the plates into the trash bin. This time when your heart breaks you can actually hear it shatter into trillion pieces and those splinters prick too.

You have to show them the attractions of the city even if they comment later “Is this all your city has got?” Those who are sensitive enough not to do that will generally park themselves in front of your idiot box and browse everything from new channels to daily soaps. You lose all your rights and controls over your remote.

Then you will see them scurrying around the restrooms trying to find a pair of paragon chappals. Why? Because they are used to wearing them in their own house. Naturally, it never occurs to them that you don’t use them. It is not your house policy. On negative response, they will grimace. Many a times I have had this urge to scream “Get your own stuff, we don’t rent them out here. Or better still stay at home!!!”

Blood pressure reaches at its helm when insensitive guests will hang around despite your subtle and/ or strong hints of your upcoming exams. They enjoy at your expense. Literally too. No less than any royalty, they expect highest standards of hospitality from their hosts, while you, pressurized under the “Atithi Devo Bhava” tag line, pull through all this with a smiling face. Their expectations may not necessarily be expressed, it is implied, nevertheless, through their actions.  

Not every guest is as insensitive. But we have had our share of such ones too. During all this time, we have smiled and given them a fair treatment without much expecting returns. Although I admit to having criminal thoughts some times but they were always won over by my parents’ devotion and patience to bear the most difficult of them all.

I still love having guests over. How else can I entertain myself apart from this routine life? ;) :)


  1. hehe..nicely written..Ya, I can imagine the pain of always having someone at your house. can be depressing..My first thought when I am having (non-visitng )guests is, OMG! the house will be do i cook for so many..and so on...:-)

  2. :) god, i used to love them and i used to hate them!


Go on, say it! I will not sue you... pinky promise!


Related Posts with Thumbnails