We gathered at Iqbal’s and Sherrin’s house with her mother, who was visiting from Pakistan.

We enjoyed Aaalu Paratha (potato-filled pan-fried pancakes), homemade
yogurt, fruit, and tea with milk or
evaporated milk.  The pancakes have tiny diced bits of potato with corriander
seeds.  Sherrin lightly fried them
on the stove and we eagerly ate each hot as it came off the pan.  You break them in bits and dip them in the fresh yogurt.  They’re light but filling.  The whole experience is geared toward pleasing the guest as he or she keeps eating and conversing.
We learned about Pakistani hospitality codes…

…If someone arrives at your house (likely unannounced and uninvited) around meal time, you must invite him or her to stay for the next meal. If someone—invited or not—arrives at your house in the evening, you must invite him or her to stay overnight. I asked if people don’t abuse this generosity. “Probably,” was the simple response. Evidently, that’s not a deal breaker. However, following that train of thought—my shameful Little Red Hen tendency to keep score—Iqbal recited a Pakistani rhyme. I need to get him to write down the rhyme in Urdu, but here’s the gist of it: For the 1st day of your visit, you’re considered to be a guest. For the 2nd day, you’re still considered to be a guest. For the 3rd day, you’re (something like) “a torture to our lives.” Obviously, every hospitality code has its limits.

So what’s to be learned from Pakistan’s hospitality morality? Guests choose you; you welcome and provide for them. Overstaying harbors resentment between guest and host. But resentment is no excuse for shirking host responsibilities.  The Little Red Hen should take note.


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