For Smita Thakur, a Mt. Roskill resident, the summer is not a season she looks forward to. For when most people enjoy the great outdoors, camping trips and relaxing beach holidays, she is coping with double the amount of work. For it is the season of house-guests in the Thakur household.
As per government statistics, India is one of the top ten source country for visitors to New Zealand. The Tourism Strategy Group (Ministry of Economic Development) expects visitor arrival numbers from India to continue their recent rapid growth. By 2016 visitor numbers from India will reach 41,000, representing a projected annual growth rate of 7 percent.
“It’s not that I don’t enjoy having people over, I really do,” Smita says. “But I just wish house-guests were not so much work and a bit more understanding. I always feel exhausted and like I have to take a holiday by myself once their holiday is over.”
Another Aucklander on the condition of anonymity says, “It is really hard to be tactful and communicate with guests, they can take offense so easily.”
For all the harried hosts and the clueless house-guests, help is at hand. Indian Weekender brings you an essential guide to becoming the happy host. We can guarantee you will share this with your guests.
Dos and Don’ts for House-Guests
Offer to help out with the house-work
Unlike in India, house-help is not easily available in New Zealand. Every family member is expected to pitch in with the chores around the house – the hovering, dishes and laundry. So, offer to help. It will earn you another invitation to visit next year.
Don’t expect to be ferried around
Be independent and do your research on how to get about. Granted, public transport is not very efficient everywhere in the country, but then again, you’re on holiday. So, take the scenic route; use buses and trains.
Give your hosts a break and the space they need to unwind
Even if you’re staying at a close relatives’ or a friend’s place, be sure to break your stay into smaller stints and travel out to other places or relatives. You get to see different parts of the country and your hosts get their own space to unwind.
Get something nice for your hosts
It’s less about the money you spend, but more about the value of the gesture. It could be something as simple as a scented candle to a gold-coin, but, it will let your hosts know that you are not taking them for granted. Take the family out to a meal if you can afford it.
Listen, don’t offer unsolicited advice or become judgmental
You are not going to spend your whole life with your hosts. You will return to your life as they will to theirs. People change and everyone is on their own journey. You might be meeting them after years, so be realistic and don’t expect to meet the same person you knew in the last century.
Don’t run up the telephone bills
Buy phone cards that you can use to make overseas calls. You don’t know the financial situation of your hosts, so making expensive long distance calls might put a strain on them. You don’t want to be remembered for your insensitivity.
Don’t fuss, respect house-rules and clean up after yourself
Leave your room and the bathroom tidy, observe meal times and steer clear of any sensitive topics.
Mind your kids and don’t fob them off on your hosts
You’re on a break from your routine, not from your kids. Don’t forget to bring along anything that your children are used to, like toys or the favorite blanket. Keeping them entertained, safe and out of trouble is still up to you.
Whatever you do, don’t say how something is so much better back home!
If you feel something is better back home, you’re probably right. Just don’t say it out loud. In all likelihood feelings will be hurt.
Say thank you
Saying thank you nicely, the old fashioned way will be remembered for a long time to come.
Dos and Don’ts for Hosts
Be considerate, jet-lag is real!
You may have forgotten the exhaustion that meets as you land in New Zealand. It will take your guest a few hours to adjust so provide extra bedding and keep the TV volume low to allow them to recuperate.
Show them around the house
Tell guests where they can help themselves to tea or coffee, share the wifi password. Showing them around also includes explaining the shower settings and pointing them to the iron.
Ensure that guests have clean bed-linen and a clean, well-stocked bathroom
It’s really the little things that can make a big difference.
Prepare your kids
They may not be used to sharing. Set down some ground rules to be followed while the guests are around. Children can unwittingly say rude things that may be perceived as disrespectful; especially if the your guests are older.
Be as honest and upfront as you can
This will only make your life easier, so set realistic expectations. If you work a full time job (or not) and would rather not cook four meals a day, then tactfully mention the dining times and your daily routine. If necessary, be as candid as you can about your financial situation – you will be surprised at how understanding guests can be!
Be generous with your time and effort
Being gracious would go a long way in making the visit memorable for both you and your guests. Ask them beforehand the places they want to visit; offer to help where you can.
Being tolerant of quirks and habits comes with the deal of having guests over. No host can escape this.
Create a tool kit
Maps, list of important contacts, emergency phone numbers help in feeling oriented and empowered. Make useful information handy for guests to use, this will empower them and make their stay less stressful for you.
Plan activities that can be enjoyed together
Use this time to bond with your house-guests… they’re family or friends and such opportunities are definitely to be cherished.
A gift at the end
Giving your guests something simple like a framed photo of all of you having a good time or a souveigner will remind them of pleasant things later. It’s a nice touch.
Names have been changed