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In Home on May 26, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Guests are great aren’t they? Aren’t they?

Like (it seems) pretty much everything else in my expat life guests are a mixed blessing (although more good than bad):

I have enjoyed the sheer relief of the presence of someone who knew me ‘before’ and the joy of closeness that I simply cannot share with people I have known less than a year, however much I like them.

I have also enjoyed seeing India through someone else’s eyes. While none of my guests have shaken my entrenched view that there is so much wrong with India that it is an improbability that it exists at all, they have given me an alternative view: The heady life of an expat looks, of course, appealing, and India is nothing if not interesting, whatever else I may think of it.

I have also experienced my husband’s enthusiasm for our ‘Indian adventure’ in a new way. To our guests he has revealed India from his perspective and in these moments I have understood again.

On the other hand, house guests are demanding in terms of time. This is not an intention, simply the nature of the situation. In Twickenham guests stayed for lunch or dinner, overnight as an exception. When you live overseas forget that; start at days and run to weeks. And of course when you have guests you entertain; think sparkling wit and dazzling tour-guiding. Over a period of time this takes its toll.

And what can I do? No more guests? – of course not. (Please, please come!)

Having entertained two sets of wonderful guests to date, I have learnt some lessons and I am ready for the (I hope) autumn and spring onslaughts:
1)    Firstly, fewer excursions and more ‘down-time’: India is ‘full-on’ so coming back to somewhere relatively mellow and CLEAN between excursions is a needed break.
2)    Secondly, more self-directed excursions. Besides the fact that there really are only so many times you can see the Taj Mahal (it’s not that great anyway) guests can look after themselves, particularly now Dean and I have done some ground work.
3)    Thirdly, self-directed, down-time: I need to make clear that when we are at T-25/7, even though I don’t have a job, I am still busy. I will be sitting in front of the computer for large amounts of time, so guests will need to entertain themselves (this is a tricky one as I don’t want bored guests!)
4)    Fourthly, when not setting guests off into the wilds of India unaccompanied or ignoring them, I will be my normal charming, hostess self.
5)    Fifth, let’s face it; I’m sure guests what to get away from me too! With a bit of luck everyone’s a winner!