To be hospitable comes naturally to some people. It is a trait which my mother possessed in abundance. The love and affection with which she would welcome any friend/relative visiting our small home in Bombay, is still talked about in our family circles . Though our family was struggling to make both ends meet during my student days, no guest ever left our home without partaking a simple meal that she would specially cook and serve with genuine affection. Proving the old saying that your economic status has nothing to do with being hospitable. It’s a matter of attitude which needs to be cultivated.
The other day I was visiting the wedding reception of a friend`s son at a prestigious marriage hall. It was a society wedding with the who`s who of Chennai in attendance. The reception table had a couple of ladies in uniform ( employed by the event management firm) welcoming the guests with the mandatory sprinkling of Rosewater and a ‘put on’ smile! There was no member of the family, who were teeming all over the place, to say a word of welcome to the invitees.
Even when I went on stage to wish the couple, my friend just shook my hands as a routine without any recognition and let me go. I felt miserable like an unwanted guest. I made a quick exit without having the dinner. Later I learnt a few other common friends also had similar experiences at the wedding. It was an excellent event, efficiently managed by the event managers without the personal touch of the hosts. The spirit of true hospitality was missing.
On the other hand, at another society wedding, there was a big reception committee consisting of friends and relatives standing at the entrance. There was someone or the other standing at all vantage points welcoming the guests with a smile and guiding them to a chair. On the stage, my friend - the father of the bride, was so happy to see me that he hugged me , introduced me to the newly weds and requested me to have dinner without fail before leaving. Though I found that he was giving this treatment to every guest, I still felt like a VIP. He made every one feel like a special guest. That was hospitality at its best.
We Indians are generally known all over the world for our hospitality. But there are always exceptions. You can feel it in the air when somebody is not being hospitable to you. The plastic smile on their faces or their body language or the tone of their conversation will clearly indicate their unfriendliness. In many homes that I have visited, the husband may be very hospitable but the wife would be cold or vice versa. Even if one of them is inhospitable, you feel very uncomfortable staying in that house.
Hospitality can be communicated through small acts, gestures, and nice words. It reflects genuine affection for others, a quality that a truly hospitable person displays, is worth emulating by all.
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