What hospitality really is?

If ever you go out of your home, its secure surroundings and provided comforts; many of your definitions would change forever. Recently, on my camping trip to rural areas changed my definition of ‘hospitality.’ What do you think is hospitality? Aatitya? Atithi Satkar?

It is an unfortunate fact that in the modern world, under the shadow of urbanization; on the hearing of the word ‘hospitality‘, the first image to spring up in my mind is a hotel with its well trained staff receiving its ‘guests’ with politest of words or a glamorous uniform clad air hostess helping me with my luggage. The point is, would any of these people even give a second glance at me had I not been paying them?

Now have a look at another scenario. In front of you is a cafeteria of some high end club. Same people visit it every single day. Same people order the same food and beverages. They sit on the same places. It’s likely that they would know who is who. And yet, at the end of many years they wouldn’t have talked with each other nor would have shared a cup of tea.

Until now I had been witnessing such scenes, when on one fine day,

amreli host
My curious host, peeping out of her gate.

I bumped into this lady. I was walking on foot through the lanes of Amreli, Gujarat; turning my head around and clicking pictures of an old building with wooden structure. I was walking along with many other such travelers. But the rest were in a hurry and I, as usual was walking leisurely, enjoying every moment of it. It was then that I saw this lady peeping out of her courtyard door. She looked at me with her kind and curious face. I looked back and smiled. She then asked me about the place we were heading to. I informed her. She then asked me the place from which we began our journey. I informed her about that too. And then she did the most amazing thing, which I will remember for years to come. She invited not only me but many other fellow travelers to her place for the breakfast!

Just imagine! There were hundreds of us. And in her kitchen, this lady had prepared morning tea for her family. To how many people her kettle was

selfie with the lady
A selfie with my host.

capable to serve? Probably to all of us. Her heart was so large that her kettle would certainly not get emptied had she started serving us one by one. I am certain about it. She said, ‘Tea is ready. Come inside and have breakfast. This might not be suffice for all of you, but have it until it lasts.’

Would you offer even a cup of tea to a stranger passing by your home? How much tea do you offer to a customer who is visiting your shop? How much tea do you offer to a guest who has informed you in advance? How much tea do you provide to your domestic help? What do you feel while offering all these people that cup of tea?

And this lady, not knowing my name, not knowing where had I came from, what my caste is, how would I benefit her; is offering me and my co-travelers everything she had prepared for that morning!

This is how our idols of humanity should be.

A middle aged housewife,

standing in her doorway,

welcoming hungry travelers,

without any intentions,

to the warmth of her home.

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