The instructions were simple enough even if they came in three parts, the third couriered in a thick cover. As people who were letting out their homes to total strangers, the caution was understandable. And yet. Let me give you the gist of the directives.

Welcome to our humble home. The key is in a pot of a rare cactus that is at an angle of about 45 degrees from the front door. No, not in the San Pedro variety (if you find a key there, that maybe the one from our old house, which we lost years ago) or the hedgehog cactus. Yes, the other one (I won’t mention the name in case someone hacks into this account).

You are, of course, free to use all the rooms except the one right at the back, which we keep locked up with people who refused to follow our instructions earlier.

The fireplace is real and for you to enjoy so long as you don’t light any fires. If you think it’s fake, that will cost you an extra amount, which we shall add to your bill.

I am sure your parents have taught you how to behave in other peoples’ homes. But we are all human and occasionally break glasses or scratch the windowpanes or drop expensive figurines, which then become many inexpensive figurines. If you happen to do any of these (and other) things, please remember we have your credit card details.

Please do not use the shower and the washing machine at the same time or the toaster and the dishwasher simultaneously or the drawing room lights and the kitchen sink all at once. The ‘boom’ you hear when any or all of these things are done is the sound of your money exiting from your credit card.

There are a few books on the shelves and you are welcome to read them. Take care to see that when you pick up a book you read it through. There is nothing more disgusting than for us to return home and find that Anna Karenina has been merely flipped through, and whole chunks of The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde have been left unread.

All carpets, sofas, carpets, shelves and tables are nailed down for your comfort so you won’t walk away with them. In case you do, return them within 30 days or keep them forever.

You should endeavour to leave our home exactly the way you found it. With two exceptions. If there were dirty dishes in the sink when you came in, do ensure they are washed and put away, and if my husband is still living there, please throw him out.

Have a pleasant stay.

More from Suresh Menon:

Don’t look up now, there’s more where that came from

What’s in a name? Everything, if you don’t remember

Catch 22 when great expectations go under the net