Thursday, June 4, 2009

Athithi Devo Bhava!

I wanted to write a post on guests who visit home without prior intimation. I was thinking about an apt title and got 'inspired' by our Incredible India! campaign; now that Aamir Khan too endorses it. Hence the title.....

Last week sometime, I went home a bit early from work and slept away. I slept like a dead wood. And out of the blue, I sensed as if someone was knocking my head off with a club....Bang...Bang...Bang.....And soon, it was a loud unpleasant music...."Ting Tong..Please open the door". Trust me, I don't like that lady's voice. She is monotonous, the same voice modulation all the time. She was screaming now, literally pulling me out of the bed, towards her; as if I want to hug her! Oh! I am talking about the door bell.

I forced myself out of the bed. Luckily, I wore "acceptable" attire, unlike most times. I struggle my way to the door and opened it. My relatives and my nieces - 6 altogether. They were all smiles that they managed to give me a surprise. Yeah surprised I was! I welcomed them inside while my head was being nailed from all sides. I could visualize scary looking witches nailing my head. I asked them to make themselves comfortable while going into the kitchen to retrieve water for them to drink. As I wobbled, I hit my toe to the adjacent wall of the kitchen....

aaaaawwwwwwwwwwwww aaaahhhhhhh......................I rubbed my mistake. I should have splashed some water on my face so that I could well be active; now that my sweet nieces have come. As I rubbed my eyes, I went to the washroom and splashed some water over my face, wiped it off, yet my eyes wouldn't budge. I forced myself and got back to kitchen and served water to my guests. I open the refrigerator door and oops!! milk.

Well....things are going from bad to worse. I run to the neighborhood shop to get a packet of milk. And yes, the witches were still nailing my head. While a couple of naughty goblins playing head was spinning.

I got back, prepared coffee for my guests while I burnt my palm as I was still trying to come out of my sleepiness. I was not able to talk to them with much attention. I could not play with my nieces. The moment was not a pleasant one, it was not that I was not happy seeing these folks, it was just that the moment was wrong.

I can tolerate anything but not being interrupted while I sleep!! I sensed they started feeling uncomfortable. But I could not help. My body gave away and I wanted to be left alone!!

What happened to "Athithi Devo Bhava". We have been imbibed with values deeply rooted in our Indian culture to treat guests like GOD. Am I treating my guests as GOD? My inquisitiveness made me think otherwise.

Does ATHITHI mean "guests"? Or is it A-THITHI? Someone who drops in without a THITHI?

If so, am I not supposed to treat them well and make them happy? Make them feel at home?

At that moment, only one question crossed my mind -


In West, guests arrive by prior intimation. People visiting notify well ahead about the time of visit and such details so that hosts can plan and be prepared. This also means hosts get time to choose what outfit to wear, what food and drinks to serve, entertainment options etc. When everything is planned, the hosts are happy and the guests find the experience fulfilling.

Oh, but wait, isn't this sort of orchestrated?

But here I was, sleepy headed, no proper outfit and I was doing my best to entertain them while I was getting my very own piece of entertainment. (Remember the the witches were still nailing my head. While a couple of naughty goblins playing violin)

But again, the same question....What if no one were at home?

The guests would have come all the way with their kids and others with a genuine idea of surprising the hosts, but would instead return back as the hosts were not at home. Or now that someone was at home but was sleepy or sick, they didn't get the expected treatment. Would they complain and take offense? Would they bad mouth about me and accuse me of showing disinterest?

I am confused. But whatever, I lost sleep and it took me considerable time to drive away those witches and goblins!!!


  1. Nice blog. I have heard and witnessed stories about guests arriving without informing ahead. This happened when I was living with my parents. My mom goes to sleep at 9 pm. The others were about to go to sleep. One night, there was a knock on the door at about 9:45 pm. Six of my dad's distant relatives showed up. They said they have some work in the town the next day and therefore wanted to spend the night here. My dad asked if they had dinner. They said: Illa, konjam uppuma pannina porum (No. It is enough if you make a small quantity of uppuma.) My dad woke up my mom, she went to the kitchen and made uppuma and went to bed around mid night. The next morning she had to make breakfast for 6 additional guests. Fortunately there was enough idli batter. You think my mom was happy!! ha ha ha

  2. Ha ha.. though you might have found it painful, it was a funny read! ha ha ha!

  3. Thanks for the comments SG.
    That was so very sad...

  4. Thank you Gautam. Glad you enjoyed reading it

  5. yaar u have hit the nail
    some of my dad's cousins are similar pests. they used to come and stay for months ans save on their official reimbursement and as if living in a hotel. this was when i was a kid. finally my mom had to put her foot down and stopped this non sense.
    i hate such parasites

  6. AS,

    That was so very sad. How could anyone commit such cheap acts. Sorry but disgusting!!

    Your mom was right in stopping such behavior


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