Sunday, July 5, 2015

ARE YOU A GOOD HOST – Musings on “Hospitality”

Musings on “Hospitality”

When I was a small boy someone told me a fable.

It was an apocryphal teaching story of an Arab and his Camel.

I remember this insightful fable even today.

Whenever I feel too magnanimous  generous and benevolent, I tell myself this story and I try to apply the “moral of the story” in my life whenever the need arises.

Are you a magnanimous, benevolent and hospitable person?

Then you too need to read the story of the Arab and his Camel.


It was a cold winter night.

An Arab was resting in his tent.

He had tied his Camel outside.

Suddenly his camel peeped inside the tent.

“What is it?” the Arab asked.

“Master, it is very cold outside. Please allow me to put my head inside your tent,” the Camel said.

The kind master took pity on the poor animal and agreed to the camel’s request.

“Okay, put your head inside the tent,” the Arab said to his camel.

The camel put his head inside the tent.

A little later, the camel asked, “Master, my neck feels very cold. Please let me put my neck inside your tent as well.”

Once again the master allowed him to do so.

Next, the camel asked if he could put his forelegs inside the tent.

Once again the compassionate master agreed.

Then the camel wanted to put his chest, then his back, then his hump inside the tent.

The Arab agreed to all this.

This went on and on.

The camel asked, and his master, the Arab, agreed.

Soon the entire camel was completely inside the tent.

But now the tent was too small for both the master and the camel.

They both struggled to remain inside the overcrowded tent.

There was a scuffle and the much stronger and bigger camel pushed his master out of the tent.

Now the Camel slept comfortably in the warm tent while his Master shivered outside in the freezing cold.

Yes, the Arab, the Master, was pushed out of his own tent by his Camel. 


You should be careful before you extend your hospitality lest your guests take undue advantage of your magnanimity and generosity.

This fable teaches us lessons at both the macro as well as micro levels.


Let us see a “macro level paradigm” ramification.

Suppose there is a war ravaged or strife torn country where there is so much violence that the life of citizens is in danger.

As a humanitarian gesture, a benevolent neighbouring country may open its borders to allow refugees to come in and live in safety.

Some countries may allow immigration of foreigners as a gesture of goodwill.

In other cases illegal immigrants may enter another country and settle down there.

The “host” country may be charitable not to deport them. 

Many “magnanimous” countries have such “guests”.

Soon the number of these “guests” becomes substantial enough to cause demographic change.

Now like the “Camel” in the story, the “guests” may soon throw out the “host” from his own “tent”.

Even if they don’t evict the “host” out of his own “tent” - these “guests” may make life uncomfortable for the “host” in his own “tent” just like the Camel did to the benevolent and hospitable Arab during the fable before pushing him out of the tent.

Refugees and migrants, legal and illegal, take undue advantage of their host country and start dominating the original inhabitants - and, sometimes, like the camel in the story, these immigrants may even succeed in evicting the original inhabitants from their homeland. 

MICRO LEVEL MORAL - “Guests” who overstay their welcome

At a micro level this can happen in your own home.

I have seen so many “guests” who overstay their welcome and so many who take undue advantage of the magnanimity of their “hosts”.

Let is see a few apocryphal examples.


I have seen a case where a benevolent big-hearted person rented out his new locked-up house to a friend who was in dire need.

The owner was in a transferable job and served all over India while his friend stayed as a tenant in his house.

Many years later, when the house owner retired and wanted to settle in his own house the ungrateful tenant refused to vacate and the hapless owner had to live on rent in another house.


I have heard a story, maybe apocryphal, about a guest stealing affections of her host’s husband.

A compassionate caring kind-hearted woman invited a cousin sister to live with her in her home in the city, since her newly arrived cousin sister was finding it difficult to find an accommodation in the city where she had found her first job.

The scheming cousin sister responded by seducing and stealing the woman’s husband.

Finally, the wily cousin sister settled down with the woman’s husband and the hapless kind-hearted woman was turned out of her own house.

Yes, like in the Arab and Camel story, the woman was turned out of her own house (and marriage) by her “guest” - her own cousin sister to whom she had been so magnanimous and hospitable.


This fable has a lesson to all of us that you must not be too magnanimous, benevolent and over-generous in extending your hospitality.

Be careful, otherwise there is a danger that you may become a “guest” in your own “home”.

Before you extend your hospitality to anyone, remember the story of the Arab and the Camel.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This article was first written by me Vikram Karve 10 years ago in 2005 and posted online earlier in my blogs including at urls:  and

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