I did not use the word "perfect hostess " as that ,I believe is taught only at those expensive finishing schools, but here are just a few of my thoughts after the round of get-togethers that we had during this holiday season. Do we Indians take a lot on ourselves? I am inclined to think that this is a very Indian trait because I have attended some parties of the Chinese and Malay here. They are such casual hosts. Most of them have an open house and they entertain either the whole day or evening where a lot of food is catered from outside. Whereas, a major part of our entertaining is taken up by making sure that there is la lot of food on the table and trying to cook most of it ourselves. Preparations start at least a week before by soaking the channa, half frying cutlets and samosas, and deep freezing them. Then on the day itself, we end up feeling flustered and a little worried whether everyone really liked the food. They have taught me that a host has to be fun, have a good time and make sure that the guests do too. Is there something called too much of hospitality? There is this aunt of my dh's who, bless her, always invites us for a meal when we visit them. She cooks very well and as soon as we sit down to eat (how much ever we insist, she will not sit with us) she serves us, stands near the table with her hands on her hips (now, that is very awkward for me - first of all, she is elderly and I feel terrible that she is standing while I am sitting, and second, the agony of not being left in peace to enjoy her lovely spread) and asks us "eppadi irukku,." We are expected to comment on each and every dish. A summing up of "Superb samayal, mami" will not do. If we do not have much of the curry, she will be really sad and say "ohhh…. romba kaarama irundhudha, pidikalaya?" and we have to assure her that it was indeed yummy. What's more, she will always comment that my dh eats very little. "ohhhh paavam ….he used to eat so nicely before, now hardly anything…Ennachu, strict restrictions from wife-a??? Not realizing that 'paavam' is now a middle aged person leading a sedentary lifestyle, and just isn't the young athlete he used to be. But she is too sweet, and takes our teasing of her "killing" hospitality very sportingly. Then there is my friend here, who cooks really very well and we all look forward to her dinners. In fact, only our well breeding and good manners prevent us from having all our 'do's in her place; we insist on having a round of dinner at each of our places. She cooks for a battalion and all of us are forced to carry back some packed food. Not that we complain, but hearing her talk about the amount of trouble she had to take leaves us feeling very guilty about the whole dinner. My MIL has taught me something really sweet - to keep in mind the special favourites of each relative and try and cook those dishes when they visit me. Isn’t that really nice? So, now about me.…. I seem to need as many days notice as the number of families for dinner, isn’t that funny? I cook quite well in the sense that I follow verbatim the recipes of my mom, MIL, tarla dalal and more recently our chithvish and WOW, there is a spread on the table that gets quite a few appreciative comments. My mom has taught me to cook a little more so that no dish is completely empty. "There should be enough left over, in order to make sure that no one has stopped eating due to lack of food." Now picture me, during one of the dinners that I recently hosted. There I was, happy with the compliments, looking at the remaining dishes on the table and satisfied that everyone has had their fill and also mentally telling myself "hey…. yippee… the next day will be a good earned rest for me with all these leftovers", when of course, my darling hubby butts in and as if reading my thoughts ,tells everyone "hey, please finish off all these, otherwise, we will be having only leftovers for the next one week". Now, doesn’t he deserve one of my FREEZING looks for that? But remembering just in time about being a "fun" hostess, I only laughed indulgently. So, which category of hostesses do you belong to?