Two decades ago, along with a small group of policemen, I was chasing an elephant that had run amok.
At that time, I was posted as an Assistant Superintendent of Police in south Kerala.
Traditionally, in Kerala, elephants are extensively used for local festivals, and ever so often, some go berserk, as happened in this case.
To warn people from unwittingly coming in harm’s way, we kept running behind the elephant through the villages.
By 10 pm, when the elephant was tranquilized by the vet, I was dying of thirst. We knocked on a house, hoping for some nice chilled water.
After making us wait for 10 minutes, the household got us water. But when I touched the glass, my heart sank – the water was boiling hot. When I took a sip, I felt even more thirsty 🙂
Was that hospitality?
In fact, giving us a glass of water from the tap would have been really easy. But to disinfect, they boiled it with some herbs before serving us, as is the local tradition.
Boiling the water to disinfect was their way of showing care. That was real hospitality. And even though I could not drink it, we thanked them profusely.
It is not what people do, but the circumstances in which they do it that matters.
Sometimes, undrinkable-hot water is the best hospitality.