Monday, 5 November 2012

When the spirit weathers the storm...

Over the last 27 years Surendran and I have always kept our home open to friends and family; to visit and be with us as house guests despite whatever crazy schedules of work we have.  This has provided us with some wonderfully rich experiences and some treasured memories. It also taught our son Mithun the ideals of sharing, and gifted to him the spirit of generosity that places others before the self.  However we have also had our share of rather bizarre experiences that have equally been spaces of learning for as a family, when those  invited into our home have  transgressed the lakshman rekha of hospitality extended to them, and become inquisitive, invasive, demanding, judgemental, opinionated,  and often down right rude!

It is interesting that people who declare themselves to be private and who insist that they value their own privacy often ask the most invasive questions. In a recent instance of such transgressions with house guests,  not only were the immediate family subjected to crass inquisitiveness, but so too were our artists in residents in the Collective Studio, our adopted grand-daughter and her mother,  as well as our friends who would drop by! It became hugely embarrassing when petulant temper tantrums erupted as we attempted to explain the boundaries we would like respected,  and it took all our dignity as a family to insist of ourselves that our personal etiquette didn't falter as hosts in the face of such provocation.

Indian hospitality is special and unique; and it is something within our cultural traditions that I hope we never lose, either collectively or as individuals. But often ones patience is sorely tried; and it is such moments where one begins to question whether the true spirit of giving within the areas of hospitality received, is completely understood by the recipient. It is also essential that the art of receiving love and generosity with the appropriate comprehension of its true value, is a lesson learnt. Because the casualness with which anothers efforts are sometimes viewed, and the ability to take for granted the thoughtfulness of gestures received indicates how selfish and insular people can be when attention is focused on them. The training we give at The Collective Studio includes an emphasis on inter-dependencies that are about respect and acknowledgement at all times. Egos are a fragile commodity but so are egg-shells.....! The long and the short of it is that sensitivity can be claimed if it is given in equal measure.

Our home retains its spirit of inclusiveness by choice.  And though we are faced with some occasions that test our patience and the collective ideology that guides our lives; where we are disappointed that  our energies have been squandered -  we still continue to hold fast to the traditions of Indian hospitality that have for generations been the social practise of both the rich and the poor equally, and which in many ways is the hallmark of what being Indian is all about!

1 comment:

  1. Having undergone similar experiences, I understand quite well your dismay when the ones to whom home and heart have been opened in a warm embrace, are unable to respond with the same finesse as would be expected of them!