Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Atithi devo bhava

- on the presumably well-intentioned but often painful, forceful, even self-righteous, 'hostliness' of many, resulting in praise from parties not in the direct line of the fire of their hospitality, and to a sort of terror in some of their guests

Never may it be said of you
That a visitor came and departed your scope,
Without meandering out like a sated python,
Or tottering out in the manner of a dope.
If a guest tries to adhere to a diet,
Perish the attempt with a hostly frown.
They should need to be shaken not stirred
To settle all the victuals you hospitably shove down.

If someone’s already eaten and so politely declines
Rely on strong arm tactics to ensure your win.
Let them pay the price for visiting you;
Persevere and shovel food in.
Their personal health plans? Not on your time;
It is only meet to render them replete.
Cuss at the parsimony of the host
Who respects a guest’s wish not to overeat.

Fie upon the host whose torrent of hospitality,
The ingenuous guest can contrive to ford.
If the spread features simple, “healthy” fare,
Smirk at the absence of grease on the board.
Scoff at people’s concerns over their bulk, and
Offer them your own shapelessness to ponder.
“Entertain” away sparing neither kith nor kin.
Plaques might make the heart grow fonder.

When, stuffed to capacity with your largesse,
Hapless victims take on an aura porcine,
Dismiss their protestations, unveil your motto –
“Once in a while” is perfectly fine -
For delicacies, with nothing delicate about them,
And mind-numbingly sweet somethings slithering in ghee,
As well as for lipid profile tests and gall stones,
Diabetes, and the occasional bypass surgery.

That it’s called Hospitality is no coincidence;
The indication towards Hospital is clear.
Your acquaintances can make do with digestive pills;
But naught less than the ICU for your near and dear.
Why confine them to human life when the heavens beckon?
From their mortal existence grant them liberation.
Live by the maxim “Atithi devo bhava”
Accelerate your guests’ divine transformation.

1 comment:

Gita Madhu said...

Lol! But you know what? Being out of India I miss that and for all I know shall soon be one of those "hosts".

In fact do visit
to see what fate is in store for you.