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Name: modgurl
Location: Singapore

New mom. New woman. Born in Singapore. Raised in the World Wide Web.
Monday, October 29, 2007 @ 4:55 am

Dear Blogger,

Hari Raya house visiting is coming close to the end. I hope! What have I got to say about it? If I have to decide between 2 invitations, one from an older generation and one from the younger folks, I shall choose the former. This is simply because the younger generation fails completely as a host!

I don't expect them to be as warm as the hospitality we are used to when visiting our aunts, grandma, etc. Basic etiquette as introducing the other guests to you upon arrival or inquiring you on the common pleasantries is enough to pass my standards of a decent host.

I attended an "open house" earlier somewhere in the north. Even before I got there, I knew that this would be a waste of time because when I called up for directions, the hostess didn't even know who I was and she couldn't give me clear directions to her place.

I gave her the benefit of the doubt nevertheless. When I've finally reached her doorstep, she asked me if I was so and so and that was the last I've heard from her. I tried introducing myself to the other guests, but it was not reciprocated. In typical Malay (or is it Singaporean?) style, nobody asked me who I was!

It was bad enough that I came alone. The least the hostess could have done was to not make me feel like I was alone. Simple conversation would have been appreciated. Ask me about the weather even! Maybe her throat hurts what with all that smoking that was going on.

Well, what about getting me a drink? It was one of those buffet-style function and we were expected to self-serve. But it wasn't like she had her hands full with her lack of hostessing duties. She wasn't even flitting from one guest to the other!

My point was, if you can't be a decent host, please save the home invitation until you're comfortable to be one. Your guests came from all over the island and your home wasn't exactly convenient to find. So after all that effort, the least decent thing to do was to make all of us feel welcomed.

It wasn't entirely her fault. Our generation was not trained in this sort of thing. Our parents didn't exactly impart on us the basics of hostessing. Even I fail at it! But I'm learning to open up! I try to be present when we have guests around. Not just physically though.

I try to chit chat with the guests as much as I can, starting with mundane questions and answers. This despite me wishing that some of these guests would just disappear from the face of the earth!

I have to start somewhere right? It's inevitable that I will become my own home's hostess one day! Looking at all this positively, we could all learn from mistakes. The ultimate goal of a hostess should be to make all guests feel like they're in their own homes but not behave like they're in their own homes. There are a lot of differences.

Even if the atmosphere has the slightest tinge of tense, you're failing as a hostess. Of course the guests have a role to play too. But it's the responsibility of a host to set the pieces first before the guests can move in whatever direction.

As a guest myself, I shall be more forthcoming next time. Somehow, this was easier when I was in a club. The drinks help relaxed the atmosphere, thus, the camaraderie comes naturally. Perhaps she should have served housepours instead of some carbonated drink! That will make everyone feel like long-lost brothers and sisters!


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