Come New Year, one is invariably flooded with diaries and calendars. Usually the complimentary diaries start arriving from November. Some companies that care for their customers and introduce something new into their diaries every year, some even personalise them. Other firms will have diaries of different dimensions and for different categories and a casual glance at 'your' diary will tell you where you stand in their esteem. There were times when they would leave something for the lesser officers also. But the givers are very choosy nowadays due to the spiralling cost of diary printing.
But then all you would require would be just one each. What if you got more? Believe me, till date I have not seen anyone so benevolent as to distribute the 'excess baggage'. Since diaries and calendars have no value after that year, usually such leftovers end up as scribbling pads or drawing books for the children. I used to give one each to those in my teams and if some were still left, then to others on a first asked, first given basis. It used to give me a heady feeling, almost like a modern Karna!
Not satisfied with just giving out diaries, I would also lecture my staff on the merits of maintaining a diary and how it adds to the professionalism. But my women-only team would gifting my gift to their husbands! That put an end to my attempts at 'administrative' reforms.
One person who looks forward to my diary harvest is my father. His allotted quota would be one 'full' and one 'half'. It has been his habit to record important events against the dates. His typical entries would read thus: 'Gas booked. Cylinder lasted for 50 days only.' Or, 'Wife went shopping. Two sarees. Rs 1,500'. With this ready reckoner no one would dare to hoodwink him. Because of this overkill, his deputy, my mother, says an emphatic 'no' to diaries.
If diaries come, can calendars be far behind? Not many would be dispensing both. I know a firm that would take the headcount along with the details of their religion. Diaries would be the same for all but the calendars would differ. Chandrika would get Hindu gods, Celine would have Infant Jesus while Suhara got a calendar with some suitable holy inscriptions, making all of them happy.
Proxy government calendars with stars and religious snippets are a favourite with residents' associations. They tie up with some Sivakasi printerwallah and swell with visible pride when the calendars are delivered to the members in advance. These calendars are much sought after by our NRK and NRI children, who say it gives them a feel of Kerala. Then there are pocket calendars, just like pocket diaries. Some newspaper houses distribute calendars along with their paper in November but add the cost to the monthly bill!
Digital organisers and mobile apps have started replacing the 'twins' now. But to old-timers, they lack the nostalgic charm of the latter.