Cultural differences

Children's wisdom beat all

12:31 PM

This weekend DH and I had a visit from his brother, wife and two kids, they stayed over for the night of Saturday to Sunday, and we yet again made good use of our sofa/cum bed, which has been an abused piece of furniture since we bought it in 2006.
It was when sofa cum bed was still a new notion around town, and we paid the high price for our "futon sofa" (you now find them everywhere in Infantry road for half the price we paid then), not only is the sofa used and abused daily as a sofa while DH and I get our dose of "Idiot box" it also doubles as a dinning chair when we are not in mood to eat on the terrace, our 40kg dog uses it as a bed, and I use it in the morning as a computer chair with my laptop resting between my legs and a cup of tea nearby. When relatives or friends visit, the thing folds down and become a double bed (whose mattress isn't too comfy), and it suffers more abuse.
We aren't quite sure how it happened, and if it was there from the start but when flat down as a bed our sofa has a quirk and one part will fold further than the 180 degree angle it is supposed to be and trigger screams from the unsuspected victim, but once you know, you avoid sitting on that part and all is well.

Our sofa cum bed is interesting if you plan to engage in a cultural study. My western guests (friends and family) are content to use it as a bed by night and take upon themselves to tidy up as soon as they are up and fold it back in sofa mode before all my neurons make a proper connection to get me through the day, they are also quick to fold the bed sheets, blankets and store all that away with the pillow so that the room can be used as a living room during the day.
With DH's family it's quite different. As I noticed many time, sofas in India are formal pieces of furniture, you receive important guests and distant acquaintance in your living room, if family is around, the social gathering always seem to happen on a bed, no matter how much seating space you have in your living room, chai will be served with its assorted lot of namkeens on the bed in one of the bedroom, preferably the master bedroom with everybody sitting cross legged on the bedspread or in a mess of blankets.
The last time my in-laws came over, the sofa stayed in bed mode for 3 weeks, taking all the space in my crammed living room, no one thought of folding it back up in the morning, and it suddenly became a nap time bed, chai time corner, lunch room, and workspace, puzzling the European in me, but since I was decided to be a good hostess I clenched my teeth and let the behemoth invade my notion of living space. The same scenario happened when my other brother in law came, and when DH's mausi and mausa (maternal aunt and uncle) came.
Last Sunday morning the scenario was about to repeat itself, with 4 adults waking up lazily to the day, and gathering to the sofa to read the paper, wait for the water heater to do its magic in the bathroom, check emails and sip tea, when at one point the delicate balance on our quirky sofa got broken by one of the occupant standing up from the steady side leaving two others putting all their weight on the broken hinge (is it even broken?) and the sofa folded backward leaving us adult gasp and scream in surprise, and DH to explain the quirk, when suddenly my 8 year old nephew suddenly said "But why are you people leaving it as a bed? It can go back to being a sofa now" A simple logical fact, spoken so clearly, had 4 adults turn their head and look dumbstruck, yes indeed! We don't need the bed version anymore so why do we persist using it that way during the day?
And nearly 6 years spent in India has changed me enough for me not to make that logical suggestion first! It somehow got imprinted in my mind that Indian guests leave the sofa down as a bed even when not needed while I feel ashamed to have my western friends fold it back up in the morning before I could about suffering from a multiple personality disorder!


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