They say that the next best thing to traveling is to have travelers visit you. Away from India now for almost 2 years, people ask us how we battle home sickness. Well, in London, a place where finding coconut chutney and Parle G biscuits is not impossible, we could hardly complain about missing India. Having said that, the one thing that helped us survive was having friends and family from India visit us every other month.
The idea of hospitality in Europe is a bit weird. When I mentioned to someone at work that I have friends staying over, they look puzzled and throw the why can’t they stay in a hotel look?It is rather difficult to explain Indian hospitality and how it extends to family, friends, friends of friends and friends of family. I’m reminded of the Bengali film ‘Agantuk’ (stranger) about a distant unknown uncle who comes to stay. I’m also reminded of Santosh Desai’s book Mother Pious Lady where he beautifully captures the phenomenon of never ending guests. Mi casa Tu casa of the world very much applies around where we live in London. Anyway, apart from one instance where I actually had to tell a girlfriend of a friend of a friend to find out what cheap hotels are available in London, Caledonian Road B&B has been running full in 2011 and 2012. Thanks to all the friends who came to visit, I’ve become an unofficial tour guide and gotten to know the city better.
So.. keep visiting!