## Valuation of Parking Space

There’s a unique problem in my apartment building – the building has been built with provision for only seven parking slots in the basement but each of the nine houses here has been allotted a slot, which means there are two obstructing slots. Unfortunately, my slot is at a location where I get blocked by the car belonging to the guy upstairs and so I’m a directly affected party due to this problem.

Currently I’ve managed to get around this problem by parking my car in some corner of the basement but neighbours are cribbing saying it spoils the “look” of the building (as if the look of the basement matters! ).

Coming back to the problem, I was wondering if there exists a solution. Clearly, the shape and orientation of the basement means that not more than seven cars can be parked there in a non-obstructing manner. Now, since every houseowner here was allotted a slot when the building got built, they are entitled to a slot so it is not feasible to request/tell someone to rent their house to someone who doesn’t own a car (2 bedroom houses with parking slots cost some 2 kilorupees a month more than those without parking slots).

Thinking about it, the only solution I realized is by trading a parking slot among affected parties. For example, the slot of my house (B1) is obstructed by the slot belonging to the C2 house. Now, what if my owner tries to buy out C2’s parking space? He can either buy it out outright or he can pay the owner of C2 a monthly fee in exchange for C2 not letting out his house to someone with a car.

And he gets compensated for this by charging a higher rent from me (note that if my landlord buys out the c2 slot, I effectively get two slots, since both belong to me, there is no obstruction). The key to this, however, is the relative pricing of various parking slot combinations.

The key equation is this: if Pn is the monthly rent of a house in this building with 2 bedrooms and n parking slots, then there is a profitable trade between the owner of my house and the owner of C2 if and only if:

P0 + P2 >= 2 P1

If the above equation doesn’t hold, the amount by which my owner gets compensated (by me) for the second parking slot will not suffice to pay the owner of C2 to not let out his house to someone with a car, so the trade I described above cannot take place.

But then, according to Coase theorem, irrespective of initial allocations (here C2 has a parking slot that blocks B1’s slot) there exists a trade in which each party gets the desired outcome. Is there a contradiction with the equation I’ve written above?

Now, thinking about it, the value of both my house and C2 is not actually P1 but a number P1′ which is less than P1. P1′ takes into account the pain of having an obstructed parking slot (I get pained because I can’t take out my car when I want; C2 gets pained because I disturb him every time I want to take out my car), and so effectively both my house and C2 would be overvalued if we were paying a rent of P1.

And if we take P1′ into consideration rather than P1, I’m sure the following equation holds:

P0 + P2 >= P1′

The only other problem here is that when taking a flat on rent, you are unlikely to check for details such as if your parking space is blocked, so it is likely that the deal will take place at P1 rather than at P1′. However, once you move in, you figure out the pain and the owner of the apartment will feel the pinch when his tenants clear out at a rate faster than he would’ve expected which ends up reducing his long-term average rental income. And the deal I described above will take place if and only if he figures out why the fair value of this apartment is P1′ and not P1.

## Death Ceremonies

Considering the number of times I’ve been through the death/post-death/death-anniversary ceremonies over the last three odd years it’s quite surprising that I haven’t really blogged about it. Maybe I considered the topic to be way to personal to blog about. Maybe I was so busy fighting relatives that I didn’t have the opportunity to observe things.

So most of the time during the death ceremony was spent with me shifting my sacred thread from left to right, and back, and back. TheĀ  basic idea is that for all death-related stuff, one is supposed to wear the thread from right shoulder to left waist (it’s normally worn from left shoulder to right waist). But then, considering that it’s a religious ceremony, large portions are also spent praying, and when you are praying to the gods, you are supposed to wear the thread the right way.

And then these two kinds keep alternating, so you spend a lot of time just doing that! To aid this and to save time, the upper cloth is tied around the tummy (like an auxiliary dhoti) rather than over the shoulders. And by the end of every such ceremony, you would have figured out when you’ll have to switch the orientation of the thread.

Then during the annual death ceremonies, there are two brahmins who help in officiating. Apparently there’s something special about these brahmins. Once, a couple of years back, one of these guys failed to turn up on time because of which the entire ceremony was getting delayed, and I hinted to an uncle that since he too is a brahmin he should deputise. And then this uncle (a rather religious character) gave me a long lecture about the processes and sacrifices that these “special” brahmins (who are paid a pittance – their daily rate is about half of what an average junior skilled worker (carpenter, painter, etc) makes) have to go through to allow them to perform their duty.

Now, it is as if one of these brahmins plays god and the other plays the devil (something of the sort). The “god” is always addressed with the thread in the normal position while the “devil” is addressed with the thread from right shoulder to left waist. The “god” is worshipped with rice, while the “devil” is worshipped with black sesame seeds. It seems as if the devil is somehow supposed to represent some kind of companion of the people in the afterlife – in whose memory the ceremonies are being performed.

This time we had struck a package deal (inclusive of all ceremonies, offerings, gifts, lunch, consumables, etc.) but on earlier occasions we were plagued by the priests trying to blackmail us by demanding that we give them expensive gifts, over and above the fees that we had agreed upon. And then once, by drawing upon a clever analogy, I managed to convince one of them that the gifts that I’d given earlier were like advance payment for services and that I’d pay only the balance. Unfortunately some relatives ridiculed me for fighting with the priest and made me pay him the full amount (yeah it was my money. none of these relatives coughed up a naya paisa)

The ceremonies are in general disgusting affairs and the only way to go through them is to just go through the processes. Sometimes, thinking about what kind of a blog post to write on the process can help take your mind away from random wanderings.

## An Inquiry Into Queue Lengths At Wedding Receptions

So last night once again I was at a wedding reception where there was a long queue for getting on stage, wishing the couple, giving gift and getting photo taken. In fact, last night, the queue literally extended to outside the hall (maybe the non-standard orientation of the hall – more breadth than length – contributed to this) – probably the first time I was seeing such a thing. Thankfully the wedding hall entrance was deep inside the building compound, else there might have been the unsavoury sight of the queue extending all the way on to the road.

This has been a problem that has been bugging me for a long time now – regarding queue length at wedding receptions. Apart from a handful, most wedding receptions that I’ve attended in the last 3-4 years have had this issue. You get to the hall and finding a long queue to get on stage, immediately go and plonk yourself at the end of it. By the time you get to the stage and do your business, you are hungry so off you go to the dining hall to probably stand in another queue. And before you know it, the reception is over and all the networking opportunity that you had been thinking of is now lost.

Udupa has a simple solution to this – introduce a token system like they have at commercial banks. Upon entry, you get a token with a number on it and you go take your seat or go around networking. And when your number gets flashed on a screen close to the stage, you go join what will be a very short queue, and you have done your business without really wasting much time. I’m told that this is the system that they had introduced at Tirupati in order to prevent time wastage at queues. However, it is doubtful if such a solution is practicable for the wedding case – people might get offended, people might get too busy to see their token number flashing, and all such.

A while back, I had raised this issue with my mom, and had casually mentioned to her about Udupa’s solution. She said that the whole problem lay with girls’ fascination for make-up nowadays, and that 99% of the problem would get solved if the reception were to start on time. This was never a problem during her time, she mentioned, when makeup was lesser and girls took less time to dress. And she also mentioned that the number of guests hasn’t gone up as significantly as one might expect.

Another solution that my mom suggested was to get the couple to stand at floor level, thus reducing the “distance” between them and the crowd, and making them more accessible. Apparently, she and my dad did that at their wedding – abandoned the stage in favour of the musicians and stood on one side at floor level, and this, she says, made crowds move faster. In fact, even at Katsa’s wedding last weekend, the couple were not at a great height off ground level, and this made them more accessible, and somehow prevented a queue from building up.

Next, we will need to look at the various processes that go into the “proceedings”. So you meet the couple. One of the couple introduces you to the spouse. You make small talk for a couple of minutes. You handover the gift. Then, you stand with the couple and wait for the photographer to make sure everything is ready, and then get your snap taken. And then put exit and head for the grub. So we need to figure out which part of this whole process needs to be reduced, or even done away with.

Gift-giving takes minimal time, so it stays. Introduction is the reason you are there at the wedding, so that also stays. Yesterday’s wedding, they took photos side-on while we were putting small talk. And that still did nothing for queue length. But still, I think that’s a good start – too much time is wasted anyways in organizing gumbals for photos. And the closer gumbals can wait for beyond grubtime.

Small talk? Is there any way that can be reduced? Two weddings recently, the couple has promised to put small talk post-reception but reception has carried on for too long making us put NED before the talk. People kept streaming in even after 10pm. Will the couple abruptly getting off stage at the closing time help? People who come later can seek out the couple wherever they are, and in the meantime they can put the small talk. And this promise means that they don’t have to put small talk when there aer 100 people waiting in the queue?

Any other bright ideas? This is a common problem. Only thing is no one party will pay you enough to come up with a brilliant solution for this – benefits of this are far too distributed. Anyways, your thoughts on this, please.