Guest, host, stranger: The roles we play in life and in hospitality

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The lesson of hospitality during the pandemic is one of reciprocity, where guests must also measure up to those serving them by keeping their distance and wearing masks. The etymology of the word “hospitality” shares a root with the word hostility, with overlapping meanings of guest, host, and stranger, says activist and essayist Priya Basil. She describes being born into a role where children, if they’re lucky, receive the ultimate gift of hospitality from parents, and a shift to taking care of someone is a telltale of maturity. Basil describes the roles of give and take and how hospitality extends beyond feeding someone in her latest book, “Be My Guest.”

Priya Basil describes the roles of give and take when it comes to  hospitality in her book, “Be My Guest.” Photo courtesy of Knopf.



Evan Kleiman