When I first started visiting my in laws (prior to them becoming my in laws) I quickly realized that there is a very particular behavioral expectation of the females in the household when guests of the males in the household arrive. Essentially, we are to be rarely seen, and never heard. At first I attributed this to my being white, or the fact that I was hanging around the in laws prior to my husband and I getting married, which is not customary. I figured the in laws were doing it more for my protection so as to prevent questions arising, and rumors starting, which is, in part, true.
Whenever someone would arrive, I would be whisked into a bedroom or other sanctioned area. My sister in laws would, without a word, serve up a few refreshments, and shortly after my confinement, join me, where we'd hang out, gossiping and periodically checking in to see if the men needed anything, but for the most part, would hole up until the visitors had left.
I expected this to change after marriage. I was wrong.
As I write this post, I'm confined to the bedroom of my very own apartment, while my husband entertains some old friends. And I gotta tell ya - I don't mind!
I don't have to play hostess. I don't have to put on some fancy dress, and try and make small talk with people I've never met. I don't have to nervously hover around asking if I can refill glasses, or prepare any food. I don't have to try and act busy so as not to impede on their conversation. Instead, I can blog. I can surf facebook. I can read. I can nap. And when they're gone, my husband will lovingly come and give me the all clear, and then take me out to lunch. It's a relief, quite frankly.
When visiting the in laws, my sister in laws and I have some of our best gab sessions during such instances. It's a great bonding opportunity, and when I'm alone, a great chance to recharge my batteries and not have to fuss like the nervous hostess I tend to become. I know it might sound sexist or reminiscent of a time when women didn't hold an equal status to men, but, like with so many other things in India, I've come to embrace it.