Thank you, Mrs. Ainslie, for being in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Mary Dell writes: Airplane trips offer few comforts – no food, uncomfortable seats, dreary in-flight entertainment. Last week, however, on a flight with my family, American Airlines offered a movie I wanted to see. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was well worth it. One of the main characters, Mrs. Ainslie, was a disagreeable woman who nagged her husband, complained about everything, and feared leaving the hotel to which they had traveled.

Thank you, Mrs. Ainslie, for being the type of woman I never want to be.

Perhaps you have already seen the movie? Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, and Maggie Smith headline the outstanding cast of vintage English actors. Mrs. Ainslie is played by Penelope Wilton, familiar to fans of Downton Abbey as Isobel Crawley, the somewhat pushy but kindly mother of heir-in-the-making, Matthew. While she is a sympathetic character in that miniseries, in this film she is a royal pain in the arse.


My reason for thanking her now?  We are on a family vacation and my husband is a terrible sitter.  I am an excellent sitter and that creates a tiny conflict as he picks adventure and I am content with a stack of magazines and books.  However, in watching the less than rosy outcome for Mr. and Mrs. Ainslie at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, I have been inspired me to get off my own arse and join in the family adventures.

Yesterday the three of us headed to the beach.  The relaxing chairs on the sand called to me, but I resisted as the explicit goal was to try paddle boarding. Perhaps you have seen pictures of bikini clad women standing upright regally gliding through water with a paddle gently dipping into the surf.  This was not me. But, with Mrs. Ainslie’s shrewish barks in my ear, I pushed myself to try it and, to my great surprise, I stayed upright and actually did passably well for a non-athletic person with mediocre balance.

The moral of the movie’s story for me was this – don’t self declare that you are past peak, unable to learn, explore and evolve.  Your spouse, partner or friends want your companionship. Your children most definitely prefer to see you active and Lord only knows that any future grandchildren will simply want you to get on the floor and play.

Mrs. Ainslie is my guide.



  1. says

    Best movie I’ve seen in years. It’s so funny you mention “Jean” … ugh, I know a real life “Jean” who sadly would not recognize herself in that character.

  2. says

    Alas, I fear that I may have a bit of “Jean” in me…thanks for the nudge!

    • says

      It’s a challenge for all of us who love to read and write to prefer those things over more active pursuits. She was such a nag – something I cannot imagine you ever being!

  3. says

    Loved that movie and hated Mrs Ainslie. The only good thing she did was dump her husband in the middle of that Bombay traffic jam. He was too noble to end that sorry marriage himself. I want to be Judi Densch on the motorcycle with him!

  4. says

    Isn’t it wonderful when we see a character that makes us realize life has a lot to offer, and not to complain about it — I too love to sit and read and blog – but I will, with you, get off my duff more often and join in the fun.

  5. Teresa Cleveland Wendel says

    A paddleboard? That’s so amazing (and inspiring) that you’d try something like that. This is my favorite of your essays yet!

  6. says

    I recently re-watched Best Exotic and Mrs Ainslie stood out more for me too the second viewing. You are so right – it is easy to sit and read but so much more satisfying to try something new, even if the outcome is likely to be embarrassing!

  7. Regine says

    Nice essay MD.And true. Looking forward to seeing the movie.

    • Grown and Flown says

      It’s worth the time….thanks, R.

  8. says

    Haven’t seen this movie yet! Every time I get set to go, something happens……. Anyway, glad you got some adventure in on your vacation. Hope you were able to get back to the books and magazines as well.:)

  9. says

    Words to live by, my friend.

    My motto is “Sleep when you’re dead.”

    Once you declare yourself a fuddy-duddy then you are one. And who wants to be an old fuddy-duddy? Plenty of time for that while taking the ole dirt nap.

    I’m glad you had a great time!