And when you enter the house, a cool breeze --such as you never hoped for in the face of the blazing sun – ravishes your senses. The lady of the house – her sari changed – greets you with a gracious smile, hands outstretched to catch you before you can drop to the traditional prostration, one that would hardly match her charm anyway. Namaste – slightly lingering and delivered with serenity will quite satisfy her. You slip off your chappals and feel the cool of the marble, soft as the surface of a lake. It is perfectly clean, not a speck of dust bothers your bare soles. The lady sweeps you away into the chambers of her mansion where a cup of spiced tea is served. Its liquor meets your tongue with strength and sweetness. While you go through the ritual objections, she dutifully ignores your pleas and calls for a few barfis. The servant – never far away – carries a silver tray while keeping her eyes fixed to the floor. You get up, take the tray and set it on the polished table so the servant can be relieved of her duty. Your eyes secretly wander from tapestries to seating cushions to oil lamps on the walls. Alas, what solace to live in a country where no one ever loses touch with simplicity. Talk of weather, of saris, of cooking and when the exchange has produced enough friendly bonds to satisfy the customary hospitality she turns her full face and quietly asks: “What has brought you to my house?”
Irma Walter 2010

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