Sunday, July 15, 2007

Athithi Satkara

I disembarked from the Kinetic and looked at the house. It seemed remarkable. Spacious front patio with a swing. The twisting granite steps at the left front corner to the first floor gave the overall house a good look. I went up the stairs, wondering what lay ahead.

There was more spacious patio on the first floor too and then a big main door. I went near the door which was open. My attendance was noticed and there was a shuffle of feet. The Father was on cordless phone, gave a quick nod, indicating I was welcome. The living room was exquisite. Clean and tidy all around, it was decorated suitably well and was very pleasing. The Mother asked me to take a seat on the couch in the living room, and she would join soon. She was just finishing her breakfast. She was kind enough to ask if I had had my breakfast, which I replied in affirmative. The Father went out to the front balcony to finish the call. I then sat on the couch, in awe.

Awe is an inadequate word. Stunned, was much more like it. Staggering, too. The reason lie just beside me. The entire wall beside the couch was made into a show-case consisting of innumerous, awards, medallions, certificates of excellence and recognition and unbelievable achievement. On top of the whole show-case was a medium-sized, beautifully smiling picture of the person to whom it all belonged. Till date, I had just heard of extraordinarily talented people, at the most, had met them, but had never envisoned how their house would be! Such an impressive collection of medals and certificates, on top of the equally innumerous monetary awards, would make any parent proud. If one has to live, one should live like this, I felt.

The Mother joined me a few minutes later and I came out of the reverie. She was a pleasant looking woman with a pair of eyes that seemed remarkably young and vibrant and soothing, all at the same time. We spoke briefly on the purpose of my visit.

Just then the Father joined us. To be on ‘same page’, I felt it adequate to introduce myself, with a little bit of my academic background and my subsequent professional life (both in India and US), and how I ended up coming to their house. This took a good ten minutes.

Back to the topic, the Mother gave a brief response of the question that I had raised. She seemed acutely intelligent and was very precise and clear-cut in her thought process. With clinical precision, she laid out the step-by-step process that was involved and the juxtaposing red-tape. Apart from that, there were the different avenues that were open with their share of crests and troughs. For every question of mine, she had a reassuring and fulfilling answer. She invited questions with an open and welcoming attitude coupled with a pleasant countenance which made it all the more easy.

The Father too gave important bits of information at necessary intervals and the various ‘How-to-go-about’s which only an experienced person can delve in details. Being in such a great position professionally, he was remarkably soft-spoken and charming. On a more personal note, the first word that comes to me when I think about him is ‘Geniality.’ He was affability personified and put in a good measure of humour as and when required.

What struck me most was the way each of them complimented one another. There was clearly immense respect between them and they were mentally on the same frequency. While a joke from the Mother invoked a hearty laughter in the Father, a serious line of thought from the Father was vehemently consented by the Mother. While the Mother was explaining in detail about the intricacies and how life to the forefathers was far easier compared to current policies, the Father brought me a cup of coffee. The ability to reverse roles as and when required without the slightest ado nor communication is something which I hadnt seen often in families. They were both so down-to-earth and it was such an ease to be with the two and strike a conversation!

Without my knowing, the time had jumped by an hour! After a couple of digressing topics, like on the medals on show-case (which wasn’t so hard to digest, now that I knew the caliber of the Family!), and their owner, and about my own future and professional life, the conversation seemed to have come to a logical end.

It isn’t always that one feels so much at ease in a strange house. I only felt it once before when I had gone to a junior’s house. The hospitality extended in that house affected me for days together (the how-can-anyone-be-so-good? feeling) and I am sure it’s the same case with the hospitality extended today in this house.

I felt thoroughly satisfied in visiting and most of my questions were answered. Although the situation didn’t seem to be in my favour, at least now I knew lots of stuff that I heretofore never even thought existed.

As I departed, I informed what a nice time I had had and termed it ‘Enchanting and enthralling.’ It was even inspiring and exhilirating, but I swallowed the adjectives. I begged the Mother to involve me in any grand enterprise she ever ventured into. We exchanged numbers and, with a gratifying smile, I bid adieu to both of them. Although it took me some time on the Kinetic to get the bearings, the Father waited on the front balcony to wave me a goodbye. I have always felt, that that final wave of goodbye, waiting till the guest truly goes out of sight, firmly belongs to a supreme class of etiquette in treating a guest (Athithi satkara). It is an exquisite gesture on the part of the host.

We don’t generally mean it when we say ‘It was a pleasure meeting you,’ but this time, I really felt it was indeed a true pleasure. Wow! What a family!!

1 comment:

Deepti said...

Woooo... Woooooo... Woooooooooooooooo..
I especially liked the description and praise on the lady of the house! And also the usage of "supreme class of etiquette' ..may this satkara happen many times to you!