Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Visitors at home, and spends to make them comfortable

While it is tempting to talk about the mandatory spending on food that occurs when one has visitors at home, I am going to talk about other forms of expenses that the host(s) must incur to make the stay of visitors to their home more comfortable. This includes, for example, expenses on carrying out repairs to the home: in my case, in anticipation of a visitor's arrival in March, we had to call the plumber to fix the toilet, the painter to paint selected portions of the home which had seen water seepage and disrepair, the electrician to start off those switches/appliances that weren't working perfectly, the carpenter to fix loose handles and doors of the various storage cupboards and almirahs, and the mason to fix loose tiles and marble platforms.

In addition, we had to purchase a new 4-burner stove in place of the old one that had worn out a bit, get all the air-conditioners serviced (we have three of these), get the pest control guys in to clear out the cockroaches, and buy extra provisions to fill the larder.

Now, imagine what would be the fate of a not so well-off host. How could they possibly meet all such expenses? And, if they did not carry out these "urgent" repairs, what would the guest think about them? More important, what would the host think about what the guest would think about their hospitality?

Such questions! This is no doubt a subject matter for debate. The overall discussion must also take into account what effect the extra expenses would have on the monthly budget of a family that depends on a single member's tight salary. Any comments?

In the coming days, we are expecting five guests - or six - to stay for about 5-6 days. I think we have already spent over 3000 rupees getting our home ready to receive them.

Some upcoming news

Okay, so we are finally set to invite close friends and relatives to a lunch to celebrate the "misaq" ceremony of our younger daughter Hannah on the coming Sunday, i.e. on the 25th of April 2010. "Misaq" refers to the initiation of a Bohra Muslim girl into adulthood and enjoins upon her the duties to be undertaken by a devout Bohra Muslim woman. The actual ceremony took place more than 1 1/2 years ago at the hands of a priest who is officially called the Daawat-e-Muqaasir saheb. We were to hold the function around the same time, but, unfortunately, one of our family members, Dr. Altaf Savliwala, a pediatrician based in Lonavala, died around the same time, so we had to cancel the function. This time around, we hope to have no further obstacles. I will certainly post pictures of the event in the week following the Sunday the event takes place.

In related news, some relatives of Nishrin, my wife, are coming over from Punjab. We will be hosting them in our house. We hope to be good, nay, very good hosts, to these (wo)men. Some of them are visiting Mumbai for the very first time in their lives!

Finally, a word about the function: as is customary, most of our guests will be eating out of a large round steel plate known as a "thali". However, we are having some guests who may not be very comfortable with this system, and we would be serving them on tables. In fact, we are having more than a dozen and a half people who are strict vegetarians.