Atithi Devo Bhava:
It is not an unknown fact that Indians treat their guests royally.. We firmly believe that “Guests are Gods in disguise” and hence we treat them better than our own family members. It gets better when there is a “potential” bride-to-be in the house.
I had a few such guests over yesterday… A very decent, well to do family, who had been specially invited by my parents for dinner. And then the conversational clichés began.
What I failed to understand was that my parents (who I thought I got my logic from) became vehemently enthusiastic on meeting the guests. It looked as if they were meeting them, for the first and (hopefully) the last time. Strange mood upswing, this one.
These are also occassions where you are put on a pedestal, whether you like it or not. Especially, in cases, where parents do want to project their daughter with her ever growing “Bad girl” image as someone who also manages home well.. So, when “Aunty” (you dont have many names to address relations in English..So even if she looked like a Grandma, I had to call her Aunty) proclaims that “The food is sumptuous”..The very obvious answer from my mother would be “Ahh! A cooked it! I only helped with the chopping of vegetables”… There was a time I used to get bewildered with such statements.. for now, I only look at everyone and flutter my eyelids a few unnecessary number of times acknowledging the dudette I am for having working and cooking at the same time.
Once you become the quintessential “Everybody’s Baby girl – Volume 44” , the Vanity Fair begins. Sentences like, “I spent 40 grands on my new hometheatre system” and in retaliation, “Ah, I just spent that much on my trip to Kerala!” make you think whether this is what Shakespeare’s stories feel like.
After all this and more, when the guests finally began moving out of home, the formality extends to “I wish there was more time.. We have so much to talk about” (As if, we were talking World Peace so far) till the time the hallway is reached (the lift precisely..move inside it,lock the door, yet keep talking )..Post the pleasantries, the attitude came back to the normal.
Have you ever felt the pain when an elastic band stretches itself to the maximum and is then let loose to come back to its normal shape? That is how the post meeting family bashing session is. The smallest nuance is brought up and is unanimously criticized till the time there is no other reasons to find faults.
I gathered the guts to ask Ma, that if there are so many faults with the family that left, why did we invite them over in the first place? The answer? “Well, A, you have got to understand that these people aren’t as bad. They are just weird in parts. More importantly, if guests don’t come over to our place, how will we ever socialize?”… Of course, this also answered my question of why they wouldn’t go to someone else’s place as guests. :-S
From my point of view though, I think people are infact good. Whether they are customized to our way of living is what decides whether we would want to be with them or not. I am sure, if the guests who came over had appreciated and not retaliated to anything and everything that my folks ever mentioned, the post meeting family bashing would’ve turned into post meeting family appreciation sessions.
It is only human nature to criticize things that don’t appeal to us, isn’t it?
The meet however was good.
The outcome of it? Let’s keep that away for a few more days now 🙂