Long long ago, 9 years ago to be precise, I came to this city to join my first job. Completely clueless on how to find accomodation for myself and most important, where to stay while I looked for accomodation. I was told in no uncertain terms at my office that I need to find a place to stay on my own when I come over to join or atleast find (unearth) some relatives to accomodate me. Which I finally did- approached the relatives, stayed with them, moved over to another set of relatives, spent my first salary on them in gratitude until finally outstaying my welcome and moving over to my own Paying Guest accomodation.
That was the time I made a pact with myself. I will always keep my doors open for any guest to Chennai and if it has not been already asked, I will make the first move to open my home and heart to them.
Because I know how tough it is in a new city, how expensive a decent short term accomodation is and how little it is going to cost me to accomodate them.
So whether it called for approaching my landlady for providing short term accomodation for friends who were in town for an entrance exam or having friends looking for a job as house guests even when I was pregnant or never refusing whenever someone expresses a wish to come home.
I may not be the perfect hostess, I may not cook large meals- I may just serve Maggi or bread, I may not be able to provide a proper bed but lay out mattresses in the living room even or may not be able to provide an exclusive bathroom and I may not even be home if I am unable to get leave of absence from work- but my doors are open for my guests to make themselves comfortable in my home.
I have never been able to refuse people when they want to come over, no matter how much it may inconvenience me. It might be bedtime for my kids or a lazy weekend with family or I might be going out. But I have faced situations when I have called up friends or even relatives just to check if they are home and if it is comfortable for them if I come over, I have been outright refused without an alternative meeting occassion being suggested. Somehow, everytime this happens, my faith in warmth of relatives, friends and society takes a beating.
Once upon a time, before the kids were born, Hubby and I made it a practice to host atleast one dinner every month- for us it was a chance to call people home, socialize, take out the new crockery and cutlery, show my cooking skills (?) off and generally have a good time. The motto being, if you want to be invited, invite first! Well, I can finger count how many times we got invited!
A lot of people complain when they come to a new city especially a city like Chennai where language is a problem- I know nothing about this place, I only know my office and home and Gemini Flyover. I wonder, why they hell did they not even feel like picking up the phone and giving me a call? A few minutes into the conversation and I would have been calling them over to my home or planning to meet during festivals or weekends or I would have definitely offered to help them shop! Only a shopaholic like me will know what it is like to go to a city and not be able to shop or explore and as much as possible, I make it a point to help my guests to shop!
Enough said- the point is that this is no shameless self promotion but just a statement of facts that I have not forgotten my past- the desperation I felt when I had to "ask" for help and to wait with bated breath until I get an answer and this nagging feeling that there is a shade of reluctance lurking somewhere. The helplessness I felt when I knew I had no alternative and I had to make do with it until I could find a roof of my own over my head and them hold my head high. I have faced hesitation, reluctance and refusal and have been scarred for life and even now I am uncomfortable about staying in someone's home and try to ensure that I give as less trouble as possible! Wonder where the world is heading towards- we dread it when people come home to see us!