Presents of mind

Presents of mind

When my friend Sabita looked dejected the other day, I thought it was because she had just retired. To cheer her up, I said, “Hey! I believe they gave you a great farewell party!” She immediately pounced on me. “Great party, my foot! Do you know what they gave me as a parting gift? A garland made of pearls and a shiny ersatz brocade shawl! After so many years of slogging, that is what I get?” she barked.

I thought a pearl garland would be nothing to balk at, but when I saw the huge six foot garland made of marble sized fake pearls embellished with apple sized golden balls, I understood her anguish. The brocade shawl matched the garland in garish taste.

Gifting involves a lot of thought and sensitivity on the giver’s part. I have been gifted 17 Ganeshas of all sizes and hues on different occasions. There are dancing Ganeshas, playing Ganeshas and even a sleeping Ganesha in my collection, made of different material — all made in China. Most of them were given as a return gift during the weddings of  colleagues’ children, hence I cannot palm it off on to another friend.

Other gifts popular among gift-givers are microwaveable plastic bowls, which are fast replacing the stainless steel bowls of the last century. My friend’s son received 64 clocks as gifts on his wedding day. He is probably known for his ‘punctuality’ among his friends.

Some of the gifts one receives are quite useful, however. The bird table in my garden is a non-functional wall clock. My friend makes colourful cushion covers and bags from the blouse pieces she receives during festivals. After the note ban, many people gave away gifts of old Rs 500 notes to temples.

Another idea is to recycle the gifts you receive and donate it to others. Sometimes, a gift you have given somebody traces a full circle and comes back to you. I remember that the old Kodak camera which I presented to my sister ended up being gifted to me a year later, after being passed around to all the cousins.

Giving a gift is also fraught with danger. Once, I presented a box full of luscious Alphonso mangoes specially brought from Mumbai to a friend celebrating her 50th birthday. She refused to touch the box saying she was highly allergic to the fruit!
My neighbour was gifted a cute puppy. Its cuteness lasted a week, after which the puppy became listless and morose. The distraught lady called a vet who examined it and pronounced it to be suffer­ing from ‘dumb rabies.’ She had to make arrangements to shift the puppy to a safe location. The whole family then had to take rabies inoculations as a precaution.

I thought I had solved the problem of gifting when I gave a cheque to my nephew on his wedding day. A month later, he rang me up from Rourkela saying the bank refused to honour the cheque as his name was spelt wrong. I couriered him another cheque which got misplaced, and I had to cancel it in a hurry. Now, I am waiting for the happy couple to visit me, when I mean to give their baby some cash.