Dear Auntie Agni,

This is a story based on real events. Some of my friends made our poor friend throw a party as a penalty for something that had happened. The destitute friend was forced to arrange the party at his home. He yielded to the demands against his wife's wishes. The wife argued that they don't have househelp like the husband's wealthy friends do. And that she would have to do all the work for the party. They lived on the second floor on rent, where they were haunted by loadshedding of electricity and gas.

They have three children and the two - aged five and seven years - helped their father lay the table. The youngest - aged two - was pacing behind his father. The friends came and ate the 'sumptuous dinner' to their fill and left. But greasy pots littered the table and kept the mother engaged for hours. My heart ached so much that I couldn't help writing down the heart-wrenching incident.

The rich can easily afford such parties at their homes because they have maids, servants and a nonstop supply of gas and electricity. I have lodged his protest with his friends that, from now on, no party will be held at anyone's home. Should we only choose friends of equal financial status or class?


Dear Distraught,

No, we should not only choose friends of equal financial status or class. But we will get to that later.

Let's first talk about what went wrong in the above incident. The rich friends should not have pressured the poor one to host a dinner party. However, let's give them the benefit of the doubt and accept that, maybe, they were not aware of the host's situation. If it was so stressful for the host, he should have told his friends that he could a) either not host the dinner party at all or b) kept a simple menu that would not overburden him and his wife.

The lesson is: Don't say yes if you cannot commit fully. Also, a dinner does not have to have eight types of dishes and three types of desserts. A simple biryani can also be the only item on the menu for a dinner. You...

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