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Tuesday, November 12, 2002

GUESTBOOK - Be an ideal guest, dont be a pest.



In most Indian families, house guests are a part and parcel of life. They could range from close relatives to distant cousins, friends, colleagues or even acquaintances. On the other hand, you could be forced by circumstance, to be a house guest at someone’s place. Needless to say, the host-guest relationship is a delicate balance, which has to be maintained. Today very few people are invited and even lesser people are inviting. Social life as far as visiting each other to stay over is almost zero. With the man and woman both going to work, they don’t have time for themselves, so how will they have time to entertain others. Inflation, is another reason that people have become less hospitable. The saying, “Atithi Devo Bhava” (means guest is equal to God, or God comes in the form of a guest) doesn’t hold good any longer.

Today’s woman walks a tight-rope balancing multiple roles in a 24 hour time frame. In this over-burdened, overstrained scenario, entertaining unwelcome house guests may disturb the fine balance between work, family and social pressures.

I would love to call this article “A guestbook”, If everyone follows this guestbook, life would be simpler and our social life would be good.


  • Remember you are in someone else’s private domain.
  • Begin by finding out the most convenient time to visit.
  • Take a gift for the host’s children – a box of chocolates, ice-cream or fruits is a nice gesture.
  • Once invited, don’t expect to be waited upon
  • Try and be helpful as much as possible- tidy up your bedroom, help the hostess in the kitchen, answer the phone or door-bell.
  • Identify the established norms of your host’s household. Then try and fit yourself into the general household routine.
  • If u are held up somewhere or are deciding to have a meal outside, be sure to call and inform your host.
  • If accompanied by children, make sure they behave well. Teach them to put up with small inconveniences, to tidy up their room and run errands whenever needed.
  • Never over-step basic limits, especially with servants. Behave kindly towards them. Do not order them around. Do not forget to tip them when u leave, as they’ve to handle extra work-washing utensils, clothes, etc.
  • Offer to buy groceries, fetch the milk, drop the children to the school bus-stand, walk the dog and so on.
  • Be careful while handling the daily newspaper. Don’t crumple it or change the order of the papers. Don’t grab it before your host could read it. They may be habituated to reading it first thing in the morning while sipping tea and may not appreciate their routine being disturbed by you.


Some hints to impress your hosts :

  • Show kindness to their pets.
  • Don’t help yourself to food from the fridge or drinks from the bar without permission.
  • Don’t insist on non-veg food when the hosts are vegetarians.
  • Make your own tea if the hosts are late-risers.
  • Take the host and his family out for dinner.
  • Bring flowers for the hostess.


Over-staying one’s welcome is just not done. It has been rightly said,



  • Always inform prior to coming about your plan, how many people are coming? how many days you are planning to stay? and ask them if it is convenient for them if you have to stay for a longer time.
  • A week is the maximum one should stay as a house guest (it helps to keep good relations, don’t u agree)
  • If you are staying for a longer time you need to contribute towards the expenditures of the house.
  • If u are a house guest for a longer time ensure that u help the hostess in the household chores; especially if u are going to stay as a houseguest in a foreign country where there is little or no help available in the form of servants, help the hostess with washing vessels, cleaning the house, cleaning the bathrooms and toilets used by you.
  • Always flush the toilets after use and ensure that your children have done the same too. Please enquire with your hostess how she disposes of sanitary napkins /used diapers and do so accordingly.
  • Never ever put your laundry to the hostess or host for washing. It is very bad manners to put your undergarments for washing. It puts u in the strictly unwelcome category and gives a very bad impression about u and your upbringing.
  • Don’t expect to be served hand and foot by your host/hostess. Instead of your hostess coming up to you and giving you your teacup, just go to the kitchen and take it from her. Incase she brings it up to you, “Tell her why did you take the effort, you could have called me, I would just come and take it from you”.
  • If they don’t have the practice of eating breakfast or an evening snack, don’t trouble them to make a breakfast for you. Don’t lecture them on the benefits of eating a good breakfast. You can always go outside and have a decent breakfast in any restaurant or alternatively buy bread/biscuits etc from a shop for your morning breakfast. Either ways offer your host as well. Incase your host has been kind enough to rustle up some thing for you, don’t be fussy and if your kids are fussy, promise to take them out for whatever they want to eat. Don’t encourage the tantrums thrown by your kids and trouble your hostess.
  • Don’t ask for cups for oil for taking hair and body massages in your host’s house.
  • If you are going to stay in someone’s house with kids, be extremely careful and don’t let the kids touch anything expensive. Keep a watchful eye on them. Offer to buy extra milk etc. for the babies. Don’t encourage kids to argue with the host/hostess. Incase your kids are fighting with the hosts kids, reprimand your kids. If anything is broken accidentally due to your kid’s mistake, either buy a new one to replace the broken one or atleast offer to buy a new one by apologizing for the mistake.
  • Don’t expect your host to keep u company at all times. Learn to amuse yourself – read, watch TV or go for a walk, catch up on your sight-seeing or shopping.
  • Respect your host’s privacy and don’t ask for his car. Apart from petrol being expensive, many people don’t like lending their cars to other drivers. Hire a cab or auto-rickshaw, or use the public transport system.
  • Be flexible about your food habits. Do not expect your host to feed you your favorite dish every second day.
  • If you are invited for dinner, don’t open vessels and peep into what’s been cooked for dinner. If you have a problem and are allergic to certain foods inform the host at the time you have agreed to go to their place for dinner.
  • While eating see if there is enough left for the host/hostess to eat. Don’t hog as if you haven’t eaten in years and the hostess has to cook again for themselves.
  • Incase u are late don’t expect your host and hostess to wait for u for dinner, ask them to go ahead and say that u will manage on your own when u are back and they must not get up or trouble themselves to serve u your dinner. Ensure that u eat the dinner cooked and kept for u on the table, it is bad manners to waste food, and also clean up after u finish, don’t keep the utensils for your hostess to wash in the morning, and ensure that leftover food is neatly put in small vessels and kept in the fridge.
  • Don’t wake your host up, to make requests for a hot/cold cup of milk or cocoa at night. Milk is expensive and they may need milk in the morning to make a cup of tea or a bottle of milk for the baby. They have to stock up on the leftover milk until the milkman arrives the next day morning.
  • Make your own bed. Don’t leave your room in a mess.
  • Never go to judge something or interfere in their personal lives or support an argument, even if they involve u in it.
  • Never make comments on their families or friends.
  • Incase there is an occasion at home like the birthday party or wedding anniversary of either of them and even if they invite u, humbly apologize for not going and let them celebrate it in private. Get them a gift for the occasion.
  • Don’t open their refrigerator/kitchen cabinets and curiously look in. Don’t make comments on its contents. That’s bad manners again.
  • Never use their PC, fax machines or telephones without prior permission.
  • Incase u are a long time house guest and u need to use the PC, don’t ever open personal documents, don’t play games through the internet, as the host may have to bear the expense of the internet, use the host’s PC for a necessity not for a luxury.
  • Don’t make STD/ISD calls and if u need to make a call, pay for it.
  • Never demand to see the channel of your choice on TV, incase u need to see a particular program make a request.
  • Never criticize your host about the décor, food, the kid’s behavior, even the erratic power or water supply.
  • “Open Your Mouth Only To Appreciate Something.”
  • Remember u are a guest whether u are living with your hosts for a short time or a longer time, u are not going to be there for good, so make adjustments, then, your stay will be pleasant & peaceful.
  • When u go back to your own home u can always live like a “King”.
  • Make yourself welcome and make your hosts feel good about you.

They must not wait to drive you out and then think that it was, “Good riddance to Bad Rubbish”

A little tact will get u invited back


  • Try to be a pleasant person, so that your host and hostess feel like inviting you again to their house.
  • While leaving, tell them that you had a lovely stay and invite them over to your house as well.
  • Maybe buy them a small gift as a token to appreciate their hospitability.
  • Make your stay with them a memorable one for both u and them.

Following these rules ensures that our social life will still remain good, following the guestbook will definitely make your hosts say “come again”.

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