Why we don’t greet our Guests anymore by saying ‘Feel like Home’ – 21 May 13

Ashram

When I yesterday wrote about a guest who had sex with one of our staff members, I remembered how we often joke with friends that we could write a book about our different experiences with guests at the Ashram. There have been quite a lot of funny people among them! Remembering some of them, I thought I could as well write about a few of them here in my diary so that you can have a laugh, too.

Let’s begin with a lady from Eastern Europe who had come to the Ashram after our visit in her country. We had met her but did not get to know her very well. What we did know was that she had the habit of talking to herself. While that may sound very strange, we did not think much about it. A lot of people have funny habits and the world would be a boring place if we were all the same. When I am in other countries, I always give a very free invitation to everyone to visit us at the Ashram and we were happy when this woman told us she would like to come. Well, we did not know what awaited us.

Anybody who came to the Ashram in that time was welcomed with open arms, shown his room and told that he should ‘Feel like home’. While we still welcome everyone with open arms, we dropped the welcoming message, inviting people to feel like home and the reason was this woman. She took this saying much too literal!

We noticed that when she was walking in the garden one day, stopped at one of the bigger trees and reached inside the branches. In that tree, my father kept some strings and other utensils which were needed for gardening. Keeping them in the tree was just practical and the way how my father organized his garden but this guest didn’t like the sight and as she obviously felt pretty much like home already, she started taking it all out.

It was Yashendu who saw what she was doing and stopped her mid-way of picking all the things out of the branches. When he asked what she was doing, she just told him she thought it was ugly like this. Yashendu tried to politely tell her that it was our father’s responsibility to organize the garden and surely not her right to take out things.

Unfortunately he was obviously too nice or just not clear enough – she had another surprise up her sleeve! While she was at the Ashram, there was a day when we all went out to meet a friend. When we came back, Purnendu found his room completely changed: she had been in his bedroom, obviously didn’t like the setting of his belongings and decided to rearrange and clean up. She tidied up his cupboard – yes, inside of it! – made his bed and took out all of his shoes from under the bed, arranging them neatly just at the side of the wall. She then had the idea to wipe the floor, too, but obviously couldn’t find any cleaning agent. The only thing that she saw was the toilet bowl cleaner, a blue acid-based liquid that is normally nowhere else used but inside the toilet bowl. If I now add that all the rooms in the Ashram have marble floor, you may be able to imagine the disaster! The complete floor, previously shining marble, was now dull and the room was stinking of the toilet cleaner!

I have to laugh at the memory and also in that time we couldn’t do much else. Who would go into a person’s private room and just start cleaning up in his most private belongings? I don’t remember exactly how we kept her from doing more nonsense for the rest of her stay but one thing is for sure, we became very careful with phrases like ‘Feel like home!’

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