Houseguests not welcome

Big mess
Last Updated 28 January 2010, 14:21 IST

Benjamin Franklin once said that fish and houseguests smell bad after three days.
Whether you're saving money and pooling resources or just visiting to enjoy family and friends, being a houseguest can be a tricky proposition. It doesn’t matter if you are staying for a few days or for an extended period of time. The important thing is to avoid being compared to a smelly fish by your exasperated hosts and overstaying your welcome.

So if you do want to visit friends or family and hope to stay with them, how do you ensure that your visit is enjoyable for everyone and you will be invited back in the future.

Joseph and Shobha Rasquinha say that they avoid imposing on relatives and friends as far as possible. “The days of large joint families and plenty of household help are long gone. With most families going nuclear and family members juggling demanding careers, any houseguest, however unobtrusive, will disrupt the household. The stress is worse when it is a close family member who cannot be taken to task,” says Joseph. While Shobha adds, “Try not to disrupt the normal schedules of your hosts. If they have to go to work early, don't expect them to cook you a big breakfast. Make your stay as short as you possibly can. The general rule is to stay a maximum of three days. End your visit while they're still enjoying your company and don't even think of leaving behind a big mess for them to clean up!”

Rajesh and Ritikaa too feel that it’s best to avoid being a houseguest as far as possible. “But if you have to be a houseguest then the least you can do is, be a sensitive and thoughtful one. We often tend to take friends and relatives for granted but we should remember to respect their privacy by spending at least part of the day doing something on your own and giving your hosts some space. But also make sure you won't be needed or that others will have to spend time waiting for you while you're gone,” says Rajesh, adding, “reciprocate your hosts’ generosity by treating them to dinner out at least once during your visit, or offer to cook a meal for everyone. Use your cellphone or a calling card to make long-distance phone calls and do not monopolise their computer for work or to check your e-mail.”

For tension free stay
A good houseguest can make a delightful addition to the family for a few days, while a bad one can cause unwelcome tension. Here are a few tips to becoming the houseguest everybody enjoys having:
Nail down the dates of your visit before you go — and stick to them.
Don't show up with a friend, a dog or your kid, without clearing it with your hosts first.
Bring a gift for your host or hostess.
Follow the ground rules of the home, if any, like no smoking, drinking etc.
Make sure your kids are neat and mind their manners.
Don't forget to make your bed, keep the toilet clean and pick up after yourself.
 Lend a helping hand by doing simple tasks like vacuuming, washing dishes or making a trip to the grocery store.
 Remember to thank your hosts for their warmth and hospitality. Preferably follow it up with a brief thank you note or even a small gift.

(Published 28 January 2010, 14:21 IST)

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