Saturday, 12 March 2016

What's the cost of a feeling?

There's no accounting for feelings. 

I changed my departure date once again from 12 March to 19 March. I shelled out just over 10,000 Rupees (or US $ 100.00, give or take) at the Emirates Office in Blue Area. I could got 3 or 4 new joras from Generation, my all-time favourite place to shop for clothes in Islamabad. I could have at least 6 or 7 new paper and hard back books from Saeed Book Bank. Or, maybe 2 or 3 new beautiful coffee table books. I could have really splurged at Traditions, another one of my favourite shops where I love to get new hand bags and shoes. 

But let's not even compare it with the fortune I spent on changing my return date the first time around: a whopping $ 1000. This kind of money could have fetched me a beautiful painting from Nomad Gallery. 

I've started lusting after paintings for a few years now and, can't ever resist buying one that strikes me. In the ebola year when I was in Islamabad for many months, I bought a beautiful Masood A. Khan piece for 1 lakh rupees (which is just about US $ 1000). 

I also spent 4,000 rupees the first time to change a date for the Bhawalpur-Multan trip with Aysha with PIA and then again 2,000 rupees in Multan to change my return date. This was also no small amount and could have got a couple of decent lunches out in a swanky Isloo cafe.

I initially planned a 3-week trip to Pakistan, just long enough to get me a break, see my folks and enjoy Islamabad. 

I didn't take money out of the business to pay for my ticket but from my savings account in Monrovia.  It was a sizeable amount, more than $ 4,000, and although Haresh told me I should go for longer given I was dishing out quite a bit of money, I thought 3 weeks was going to be enough. 

My heart was actually torn in several directions. The first plan was to arrive in Pakistan in December, around the time my mother had come back from London, and my brother was also around. I was also going to attend my friend's brother's wedding. But because it seemed like the business couldn't afford to have both Haresh and I away at the same time, I decided to stay in Liberia in over December so Haresh and I could celebrate Kavita's 3rd birthday together. 

So, December and January was busy with festivities, Kavita's birthday and running the company. The business has its ups and downs but I was kind of enjoying doing what I do at the company - be boss. 

I don't know how I came up with a 3-week holiday, especially because I was dishing out a lot of money. I thought about forgetting the whole trip altogether but my mother would have been devastated. I was also anxious about leaving Haresh alone, feeling bad he was not going on holiday, but also worried about losing my sense of control at the company. I did not change the signatory status at the company either, only signing a certain number of cheques at both our main banks. 

And, of course, I was not going to go crazy shopping. I had enough cash with me for a decent amount of shopping, fun and maybe even an out-of-town trip while in Pakistan. I could also dip into my account in the UK with my visa card. I had no intention of extending my trip nor exceeding my budget. 

The first 3 weeks were up and, I was surprised to find myself signing a letter to the Bank to give Haresh single signatory status. 

When I first went to the Emirates office to enquire about a date change (from 27 February to a later date), I was told it would cost about $ 300.00. I was shocked at this amount and said I would think about it. This was about 5 days before my departure. The fellow at the desk told me to try a number in Karachi later that night. Sure enough I did and was told the date change would cost $ 600.00. I couldn't believe my ears. The next morning I called up the Emirates hotline again and someone told me it would cost $ 800.00. Of course, my travel agent was also not answering my e-mails. When he finally responded to my e-mail, he said it would cost just over $ 1,000.00. I decided to go to Emirates myself again. When I turned up, the same gentleman looked into my ticket in the system and, finally explained his mistake and my subsequent confusion. It turned out my travel agent had got Kavita and I tickets on a special promotion but the ticket was only valid for a month. And, it was going to cost a whopping $ 1,000 (to change the ticket to a 4-month validity plus date change fees for 2 persons). 

But you can't account for feelings and I decided to just spend the money and enjoy a bit more time in Pakistan. Where were my sentiments of anxiety? For losing my sense of control at the company? Where was my sense of frugality? Wasn't there a better way to spend a thousand bucks? 

I fretted over everything. Why did I buy such a cheap ticket? Why didn't I realise I would have wanted to stay longer? Didn't I know myself better? And, can't I take it easy and give myself a proper holiday because I work for myself and, don't need to rush back to a job? 

Haresh was kind of shocked that I spent this much money. He was extremely rude on WhatsApp.

I didn't tell the exact figure to my mother. My friend Aysha met me a few days afterwards and wouldn't let me pay for anything, not even a 25 rupee tea! 

Whenever I spend a lot of money, I kind of feel faint-hearted and giddy afterwards. Even guilty.

The guilt is exacerbated even more because I still haven't set up a college fund for Kavita. 

Given everything above, can you believe I bought a 55,000 Anjum Ayub painting after I returned from Multan?

By the way, I changed my return date to Liberia a second time because of a wedding. I was chatting to one of my cousins in Karachi and asked him about the big day. He said it was 15 April. I gulped! That was about a month and a half away! How rude to leave Pakistan without attending his birthday. This is one of my favourite cousins, after all, and I have never attended any one of my freaking 30+ cousins' (on my mother side) weddings. What a shame. The whole thought put me in a tailspin, that too, hardly 3 days before my flight back to West Africa. I felt I needed to stay on in Pakistan and, attend the wedding. I felt tempted at extending my holiday and going on my more Multan-Bhawalpur type escapades.

When I consulted Haresh, he was cool as a cucumber and said I could stay on if I wanted to and he did not miss us at all.

That evening I went to dinner with a bunch of girlfriends. They all said I should just go ahead and extend my trip until mid April and, just go ahead and enjoy myself. And, of course, men could take care of themselves.

When I related this to Haresh afterwards, he said, and I quote "How RUDE" and "wicked."

Lest he throw another tantrum, I only extended my break by another week next day at the Emirates office in Blue Area. When I first entered the Emirates office, I was, as usual, quite embarrassed at changing my traveling again. Did I not have anything better than with my money than to throw it at Emirates, already so filthy rich? Couldn't I organise my life and brain and feelings (and sentences)? I think the guard recognised me and, also the juice wallah next door because I've already made 3 visits this time. By the time I got to the counter, I decided not to feel guilty and just smile and say, I'm back! The bold confidence was short lived because Kavita proceeded to spill the 7-UP all over the floor.

I suppose one has to have a gung ho attitude towards money, enjoyment and holidays. Spend money and try to enjoy the holiday. But next time try to carefully plan your time and, avoid giving money to Emirates for date changes. Rather buy more clothes, paintings or books. 

You can't really account for feelings of temptation.

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