Atithi Devo Bhava


Again, the birth of this post can be directly attributed to the MiM’s post and more specifically her comments section and even more specifically to her (MiM’s) and smartassbride’s replies to my comment. Is this a pedigreed post or what?

Many, many, many years ago, DH and I were sort of newly married’s. Married, no kids, what else could you call us? I had adjusted to life in the US of A, had resigned myself to cooking for the 2 of us on a somewhat daily basis but was still petrified of entertaining. I was never a 100% sure if my food was edible or if people were just not rude enough to throw up in my face. The food seemed fine to me and DH but a couple of years of sloppy fare can lead to extremely low expectations so we were not very good judges of the quality of my cooking. Those were the days, when DH invited someone over for dinner, I would have sleepless nights and wake up at 6:00 in the morning on the day of, to cook. Just in case something went wrong, I wanted to ensure that I had time to redo things.

Now, it would have been so much easier to order a couple of dishes from a local restaurant and pass them off as my own. Unfortunately, those days, good Indian restaurants did not exist in the city I lived in plus the DH was a typical Indian husband – he believed, the woman of the house should cook if we’re having guests over for dinner/lunch/tea/breakfast. (I have since worked on him and now he’s the more acceptable prototype husband who lets the good wife decide what happens in the kitchen and knows to toss all the takeout containers before company arrives, than question said good wife’s actions)

Back in those days, we never had guests come stay with us except my father who would stop by during his business trips but this was the man that raised me and so he had equally low expectations of  his progeny.

Things were going great until we decided to make our first trip to India. Expectations ran high, we were to go home after 2 whole years. Bags were packed and as a courtesy we asked a few local friends if they’d like us to carry some stuff for their family back home. Most people realized this was just a formality offer and kindly declined. However, one “friend” of DH’s said he had a few packets of chocolate that he wanted to send his nieces and nephews. Said “friend” was a friend of DH’s cousin, DH had met him a few times during college but did not share very close ties. But, we wanted to be nice, so we said fine, we’re travelling via LA, why don’t you meet us at the LA airport and drop your packages off? As long as it fits in our carry on, we’ll be happy to help.

Cut to the LA airport. There’s no sign of the gentleman (I’m going to call him S, since he reappears in this story and I can’t keep typing friend/gentleman, since I don’t think of him as either). DH calls him a couple of times and he maintains he’s on his way but there’s no sign of him. Eventually we tire of waiting and make our way to the security line. The line’s humongous and we’re unsure if we’ll even make the flight. These were post 9/11 days so security checks were nightmares. As we inch closer to the security gate S calls and says he’s at the airport. Sure enough, nice people that we are… we leave the line to collect the package only to find S carrying about 5 kg worth of stuff. There are choclolates, shaving blades, perfumes, cookies and toys. We manage to stuff 3/4th of the stuff in our bags and the DH says that’s about it, we can’t take more. S offers to repack our bags so that he can get all his stuff in. But DH’s firm enough and declines. That we made the flight and were not asked to check in our carry on’s is what I consider, purely good luck. On the other hand, we had a 3 day stopover at Kuala Lumpur and had to lug said packages during the stopover there and on the subsequent trip to India.

Post the India trip S and DH have kept in contact intermittently. He keeps inviting us to sunny California and DH keeps inviting him to come stay with us. 2 years later S starts indicating he’s planning a trip to our neck of the woods and DH invites him to come stay with us. Things have changed a little for us. We’re finally in an apartment with 2 bedrooms and I am gainfully employed. Post the first conversation regarding his trip, we receive no information from S. I ask DH, every once in a while, whether S and family are going to come stay with us and he keeps saying that he hasn’t heard anything, he will let me know when he does. A couple of months go by, DH lets me know he’s going to be taking a week-long trip to Atlanta. We’re excited. DH never travels in his line of work, so a trip is exciting to him and for me it means no cooking and staying by myself for the first time since marriage. I envision long nights of reading and watching my shows without having to wrestle DH for the remote.

The day before DH is set to leave (we’re on our way to work), we get a call from S. He announces, he’s at the local airport, will be taking a rental car to our house. We should then follow him while he returns the rental car and then very kindly provide him with the use of our car for the duration of his 10 day stay with us. We are also expected to take them sight-seeing and introduce them to local attractions, including a trip to a place that’s a 6 hour drive one way. He did mention 2-3 other places his family would like to cover all of which would require us to take time off from work and long, long, long car drives. I have never seen DH quite as irritated. He very politely tells S that we have one car that both he and I use to get to our place of work. He (DH) is leaving for Atlanta the next day and that moi will not be able to entertain guests, particularly if it involves taking time off work. He also suggests that S and family should take the rental car and start driving to the south of the state and book a decent hotel for their stay since most spots they want to cover are in the vicinity. That was the end of that “friendship”.

Another year goes by and DH renews acquaintance with a guy that lived in the same locality as DH when they were growing up. I’m going to call him P. P seems like a nice guy, calls often and he and DH get along well, relive some old days etc. Then P calls and says his parents are in town and they would like to come visit. DH sounds excited. We really like this guy so we say come on and bring your wife and parents. I had, by this time gained a little more confidence in my ability to entertain guests, so I was game too. The night before they’re scheduled to drive down, P calls and says he’d like to bring another family with him. They are close friends, have lived in the States for 25 years but have never visited our great city. Now seems like a good time to make the trip, so they’d like to come visit too and stay with us. 4 guests, I was okay with. 7 seems a little much but I bite my tongue and say Bring it on. They all come in time for lunch. I serve lunch. Suitable compliments are made and then post lunch we decide to do some sight-seeing. We drive them to the local attractions but conversation is stilted. I don’t know any of the people visiting so I don’t know what to talk about. I try talking to P’s wife but she answers in monosyllables. You would think the other family that P brought along with him would have a lot to talk about with P and parents and wife given that they are close friends but they don’t converse either. So the entire trip consisted of long, awkward silences.

The next day, before leaving P’s wife hands me a package and says “Here’s a gift for you.” I tell her it was completely unnecessary but she says “Oh no no, someone gave it to us and I did not know what to do with it, so I am giving it to you.” Sure enough, it was the ugliest piece of ceramic work I have ever seen.

The next evening, P and family and friends take their leave and thus ends the longest 36 hours of my life.

So MiM and smartassbride, those were my guest horror stories. What say? Suitably hair-raising 🙂

If any of you have similar stories to share (although I hope you don’t), please do. I’d like proof that I’m not uniquely blessed to have such guests

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4 thoughts on “Atithi Devo Bhava

  1. 😀 sorry to intrude again, just wanted to say i loved ur post. u know what even i have a post ready where i have mentioned about guests, hope everyone reads mine first. anyway thanks for writing this entertaining post and i have copied whatever i had to :D.

    1. Hey TPL,

      I am lucky in that I don’t have these type of guests/”friends” anymore. Most everybody we know is worth their weight in gold. Btw I love your picture, the candle holders are beautiful.

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