The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Bette and I saw this movie last night with a friend who had served in the Peace Corps in India.  We enjoyed his comments a good deal, but even without his additional insights into Indian life, it would have been a movie worth seeing.  Judi Dench and Bill Nighy, particularly, are superb.

This short reflection, however, is on a line delivered with considerable intensity by Sonny, the manager of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  He is fending off complaints by several of his elderly British guests that things in their rooms just don’t work.  “We have a saying in India,” he says.  “Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not the end.”

That really tickled me.  You’ll notice that there is no referent to “in the end.”  The end of what?  Today?  The monsoon season?  Recorded history?  Some of those meanings are truly relevant to the complaints the guests are making.  Others, not so much.

Also, please note that what sounds first like a promise of help, turns out to be only an indicator of when the end of the episode will occur.  You know the end of the episode is not at hand unless everything is all right, but what you wanted to know when you came down to the desk was when things were going to be all right, and more particularly, what the manager was going to do to make everything all right.

Sonny’s tone is completely assuring.  His placement of his assurance in the wisdom sayings of India is a nice touch.  You almost want to turn away from the desk with a lighter heart.  Perhaps a door is about to be put into the doorway of your room.  Perhaps the telephones will begin to work.  Perhaps even hot water.

But on your way back to your room, you realize that the only thing you were really assured of is that “it is not the end” and you know it is not because “things are not all right.”

It’s beautiful.

About hessd

Here is all you need to know to follow this blog. I am an old man and I love to think about why we say the things we do. I've taught at the elementary, secondary, collegiate, and doctoral levels. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. I have taught political science for a long time and have practiced politics in and around the Oregon Legislature. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. You'll be seeing a lot about my favorite topics here. There will be religious reflections (I'm a Christian) and political reflections (I'm a Democrat) and a good deal of whimsy. I'm a dilettante.
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2 Responses to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

  1. I think being told things will be alright can have a calming effect even if it is a completely baseless assurance. It gives one ‘permission’ not to worry, to trust instead. I like the idea that, for me, underlies this saying: that life is a story unfolding so let yourself live it.

    • hessd says:

      Goodness! What a trusting person you are. When someone tell me “It’s going to be alright,” my suspicions get fully aroused. I wonder what he knows that I don’t. I wonder if anyone’s paying him to tell me that. I wonder if it’s really true. I’ll grant you, it is very hard to feel that way about Sonny, the hotel proprietor. He is not only sincere, but desparate and we wish him well.

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