Bed and breakfast.
Or breakfast in bed?
Which one would you prefer?
If you are on a holiday, both I suppose.
I had read a lot about the 'bed and breakfast' deals that families offer tourists but had not had the occasion to experience it till I charted a trip of upcountry Sri Lanka.
Most of my trips to this island have been to its north - on work. So when the opportunity to travel elsewhere arose I purposely looked out for the 'bed and breakfast' facilities on Sri Lanka's tourist map.
There were different options I chose including one in the estates where our host, a lady in her 60s, had only two interests - to cook for us and to play scrabble.
For sometime now, Tamil Nadu Tourism has been trying to promote the 'bed and breakfast' concept in this city and around.
I did chance on a small list of families who had once registered on the department's web site. The list did not enthuse me.
Tamil Nadu Tourism has not given up.
It is now promoting this concept all over again - with advertisements and flyers and at meetings.
But will the 'bed and breakfast' idea really work in our city?
I am sceptical.
Chennai likes to live in its own world and is wary of guests.
Visitors can take a break on the 'pyol' but families will think twice before inviting them into the drawing room.
Chennai likes to seal its personal spaces.
And that is why the 'bed and breakfast' idea may not really take off even if Irai Anbu and Rajaram and Co. at the Tourism Department sincerely drive this concept.
Some of us who host heritage walks in the Mylapore area have also toyed with the idea of convincing families to host tourists. We have had little success.
One family allows our guests to settle down with coffee in its tiled drawing room and talks to the guests on traditions, customs, family ties and local practices.
Another pulls out its heirlooms and narrates stories wound around them.
These little experiences mean a lot to genuine tourists.
But we also get queries from people who wish to spend a whole day in a Mylapore house. If this can be their base then there is so much to soak in all around - a walk around the temple tank, a visit to the temple, a stroll in the bazaar area, a cycle-rickshaw ride, a meal with the hosts, an evening kutcheri . . .
For enthusiastic tourists, the 'bed and breakfast' offer is a perfect introduction to everything 'local'.
But is Chennai open to it?