Thursday, October 18, 2007

Is there such a thing as over-hospitality?

These days, I feel that most of our lives are centered around food. In the US, if you want to meet someone who doesn't belong to your close friends' circle, then it usually ends up over food. You can't just drop by to anyone's place without scheduling it.

"Hi, I was wondering if we could just drop by this evening.."
"Oh, then why not make it dinner?"
"Come on. We haven't seen you in a while. Let's do dinner."

Okay. So the next time you want to meet them, you'd have to ask them over for lunch/dinner/breakfast or whatever. This being golu season, your golu invite is usually clubbed with dinner/lunch. There's no just dropping by someone acquaintance's place in the evening around 6-ish, having sundal, chit-chatting and just leaving. I guess people are just trying to be hospitable and take care of the guests. But is there such a thing as over-hospitality?

This time in India, I was plied sumptuously with coffee/snacks each time I visited someone's house no matter what the time of day! Morning, evening or night, you're supposed to have something.

"Have some coffee.."
"No..I just had some at Kripa Aunty's house. We stopped there before coming here.."
"Oh, you should taste the wonderful new coffee powder we got at Andal Cafe! Just a little bit.."
"No, please. I'll have some water.."
"Then have some juice. Mango ok?"

Usually, by the time I got home I'd feel like an over-stuffed party bag with all sorts of food items sloshing around in my tummy.

Besides, I think Indians have this special niche for coming up with creative dishes. For almost any festival/function in the house, we have sumptuous meals served on banana leafs. I like eating on banana leafs but then, you lose track of your portion size on them..:) So the cook plies you with liberal servings of sojji appams, 2-3 kosmalli varieties, vazhapoo vadais, sambar, morkuzhambu, rasam, 3-4 poriyals and koottus, payasam and you're left panting just looking at your banana leaf! People don't take "No. Enough" for an answer when they serve. They think it means we're being shy to ask. So they ply you with even more food.

"Tsk..these days kids have shrunk their stomachs in the US. See, she's struggling to finish her lunch and I've just finished two servings of each dish! Tell your daughter to eat well!"


Besides all this, there are those working lunches, working dinners etc..If you want to meet a colleague outside of work, you do it over dinner. If you want to talk to your realtor about something, you go to the nearest Starbucks or Krispy Kreme and down 2 donuts before you leave. Why can't we just meet anyone somewhere in the park or the library or the nearest museum? Why is food the central point of all congregations?

I have nothing against all those people who feed me good food..:) But personally, If I want to meet a friend to just talk, then I'd like to be able to do that without scheduling a mealtime for it! Besides, hasn't mommy said that talking while eating is bad for your health? :)

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Zeppelin said...

Besides, hasn't mommy said that talking while eating is bad for your health? :)

Exactly! Two words - Non-Verbal Communication. :)

if there was anything to talk in the first place, there wouldnt be food to fill up the void.. hehehe..

RS said...

This whole funda takes on new avatars when parents/in-laws live with us. Our Smoky mountain trip planning started with an email thread between b&p,k & me - what do we plan for food for our folks?! And then the rest of the trip planning...

prabukarthik said...

Having food with somebody is a safe social acitivity.

For e.g i dont know who you are, your interests your likes, dislikes but i still need to engage you in some way.

Practically anyone from a child to old age person enjoys a good food..
is there a better way than inviting for food?

SamY said...

zep has a point ... I snack something if & when am too bored not knowing what to do :D ... with food on the table, gaps in conversation seem fine. It wouldn't be so otherwise, sitting and staring at one another, would it?

Zeppelin said...


sitting and staring at one another could possibly be fine when the two staring at each other are EXTREMELY smitten.. of course, (hopefully) by each other..

onleeeeeee the laaaaauuuuuuuuuvvv.. :DDDDD