Monday, May 5, 2008

Do you and your family get invited for dinner ?

by KParthasarathi Monday, May 05, 2008
I am a loner not given to making friends easily and am also a poor conversationalist. I had a few friends in the office but the friendships did not extend beyond the office precincts. My wife on the other hand had a large circle of friends-the other moms who had gathered at the school for taking their children home, the housewives of the apartment complex and the neighbouring flats who met in the afternoons, ladies whom they met at the music classes where their children learnt and so on. She had grown to like one lady in particular and my daughters were friendly with her children. She had invited them one day for a dinner after making sure that I would return home early. The friend’s husband was working in an engineering firm. He seemed a nice fellow but pot bellied, garrulous and talked on every subject as if he was an authority on it. He was however friendly in disposition and humorous in conversation interspersed with loud laughter. He must be an affectionate father as his children fell over him and hugged him at intermittent intervals. He reminded me of a bull in China shop. The lady seemed quiet and talked in whispers. They had one boy and two good looking girls. They sat in the sofa quietly for the first few minutes till the introduction was over and soon in the company of my daughters had a free run of the house.
My wife had large spread on the table, more than the normal, possibly to impress her friend at her culinary skill in Punjabi cuisine. There were the parathas with stuffings of gobi and muli ,fried rice ,palak paneeer ,dal makhni flavoured with spices and rounded off with malai, channa pindi, sarson ka sag, a couple of vegetables,raita,papad,achaar, kheer and icecream..When we all assembled at the dining table, one of the girls exclaimed, ”Ma, see how large a quantity aunty has made unlike you in our house..“ The lady’s face fell as she gave a cold stare at her younger daughter. Meanwhile the boy wailed to everyone’s embarrassment ’Ma, I do not like muli roti and channa pindi, There is also no khadi.” The elder one who appeared quiet reached for the glass tumbler to drink water and spilt it on the table. The lady guest scolded her “you butter finger, did I not warn you in advance to be careful? See what a mess you have made.” As she rushed to wipe the water, my wife said “do not worry. It happens with children. I will take care of it.” I could see my children giggling with their hands on their mouths till I gave an admonishing stare.
Even before my wife indicated that we can start eating, the boy started picking the salad and eating it noisily. When his mom asked him to wait, he said with his mouth full that he was hungry. To assuage the feelings of the embarrassed guest, I said that I am also hungry. The dinner started and there was the usual chatter. They seemed to relish the food from the way they helped themselves by repeated scoopings.It was then the gentleman blew his nose loudly and fumbled with his hankie in one hand. Though all these did not make a favourable impression on us, I could see the embarrassed look in my wife’s and her friend’s faces. As if to crown all these, there was the loud belching from the satisfied guest. The boy said he will have ice cream as kheer is not nice and too sweet for his taste. The girls helped themselves to a second cup of kheer that compensated for the rude remark of the boy. The father with a couple of paans in his mouth and with a tooth pick in his hand was picking unmindful of the others.
Little do some families know that table manners can break or build friendships. They do not realize that some basic etiquette is to be observed to make everyone comfortable. The children should be trained and taught in their homes that and such courtesies are to be observed even in the homes. Table manners are not about the way we eat whether with forks and spoons or with fingers. One can do what one is comfortable with. The main thing is that at the end of the dinner or lunch, one should have left a nice impression. A little care, a little concern for the host and other guests would go a long way in getting invited again and again.Loudness,noisy eating or slurping, licking the fingers, over eating by repeated helpings without seeing whether there is sufficient quantity left for others on the plate, blowing noses,belching, talking with full mouth and picking teeth are strict no. Unpleasant comments on the food served, wasting food on one’s plate and leaving the plate cluttered with uneaten food are not desirable traits. It will be nice to make some small comments of appreciation of any item one liked to make the host happy. My wife may think twice before inviting this friend of hers again for dinner though the family was nice and friendly.


  1. Little do some families know that table manners can break or build friendships.
    Very true...

  2. Some families do not train their children and sometimes they themselves do not adhere to basic courtesies.
    Thanks for reading

  3. very sensible writing. good choice of words too.