The visit

I had gone to visit the family of a friend I had met casually at a temple function back home in the USA. We had struck up an interesting conversation and when I mentioned that I would be going to Bengaluru for the winter, she said, “My folks are in Rajajinagar. I know it is a little far from where you live, but if you could visit them, they would be very happy. They really like to see any friend of mine from here.”

I would be going back in a week and I felt I must make this visit, especially since I would be seeing that friend again many more times after my return. I made that visit and what a visit it was! It was like glimpsing the sun shining on a snow-covered Himalayan peak, not in the passing, but lasting a couple of hours, then on forever. Thrilling it was when it happened, turning eventually into an experience to be treasured for life.

My friend’s mother was about my age and she welcomed me warmly when I introduced myself. Overjoyed would be an understatement of her reaction during my entire stay. She even told all about me to the servant maid who was cleaning the floor.

A young man came by on his daily visit to check on his mother. A granddaughter on her way to school, another son whose office was nearby, and another granddaughter’s baby with her nanny who would spend the day here — all came one after the other and I remained the centre of attraction to them all. Basking in such genuine hospitality, I enjoyed the coffee and tiffin that was offered and continued to talk about the daughter far away whom I was representing now.

Noticing I was a little drowsy, my hostess asked, “Are you all right?” I said I had woke up at 2:30 last night and couldn’t get back to sleep.
“Why don’t you lie down on the divan for a while? I will get you a pillow.” I was made so comfortable that I fell asleep in no time.

When I woke up, lunch was ready and I was taken to the table. Nothing special, but a hot delicious meal laced with papad and sandige. I enjoyed that, too, thanking my luck on meeting this wonderful family.

Being far away for such a long time, I had missed this kind of traditional hospitality offered to an utter stranger. Now I would remember for a long time that this age-old social grace is alive and flourishing!

 

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