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The Art of Giving

Valentine Day's just around the corner and I remember how it used to be when I was in college. There was this huge outlet of Archie' s Gallery opposite my college in Chennai (Chinna ponnunga padippadhu Ethiraja...) and soon after the Christmas-New Year dhamaka finished, the store will get out its Val's Day stuff. There'll be red hearts hanging from the ceiling, syrupy love songs blaring out from the speakers and everywhere there used to be this profusion of stuffed toys, cards, cards and more cards.

It was very tough being single and unattached.

The past six years though, the season of 'giving' is the biggest date in the Christian calendar - Christmas. It took me a long time to figure out why the folks around me got into a tizz at the mention of th C-word; turkey, presents, trees, decoration, anything related to it used to drive them into a frenzy. My driving instructor told me proudly that he was so well prepared for the holiday season, he finished his presents-buying lark by Halloween. I was amazed at that. The whole concept of making a list of presents, the must-have toys for kids and the expensive thingummyjigs for spouses in favour all seemed a bit too excessive to me. There should be some actual joy in giving, surely?

The actual day, when it dawned, must seem really anti-climatic after all the hullabaloo but swapping presents must surely make up for it, I thought naively. But this year, one of my colleagues got a 'present' that made everything else pale in comparison. Her brother had got her a goat for Christmas - well, she didn't really get it, it was given to some poor and deserving folk in a far-off land in her name. I was about to say 'oh jolly good thought' but catching sight of her expression, I swallowed the words. I realised then that there is more to this present giving than I had paid any attention to.

From what I can see, the guidelines generally are as follows:
1.If you are buying for a girl, the price tag is the last thing you must check out. The more flattering, the more eye-catching, the better. This especially holds true if you are the boyfriend or a newly married spouse. If, on the other hand, you've made your bones in your marriage, then you might get away with a lesser 'wowie' gift.
2.Paying attention is a good thing - and women generally drop an inordinate number of hints when a present giving occasion (Val's day, anniversary of the first time you clapped your eyes on each other, birthdays, Saturday nights) comes near. 'Ooh isn't that bauble nice?' and 'does this suit me?' are the statements that should stick out like beacons as they are generally good indicators.
3.If you have failed at step 2, then window shopping is a good option. Keep that plastic handy.
4. Every women loves a surprise - as long as it is of the good variety.
5.For guys, if you generally get stalled after getting stuff such as leather wallets, after shave, cologne (esp if BO is a big factor!), grooming kits (for the scruffier types), then activity gifts are a brilliant idea. Most men love that adrenaline rush and provided he isn't scared of heights, a bunjee jumping voucher would be a fab idea. I got hubby a 30 min flying lesson voucher couple of years back - he still hasn't managed to top that!
6. Most of all, always, always make sure the wife's present is at least twice as expensive as the mother's and three times as that of the sister's. If you want to live, that is.
7. Lastly, though charity is a good thing, showing your philanthropist nature a la colleague's big brother is not the way to win the game. Get a decent gift and give this rather nice gesture as an extra addition, if you want to save your skin and still be a persona grata.

Happy shopping!

Posted by DesiGirl 11:35 am  


  1. Quest Girl said...
    Hey Desi Girl, can just imagine the plight of your colleague who got the goat as a gift! Lol, add to that the probable pressure to appear happy at having got such a goody "gift"! This reminds me of an episode in FRIENDS where Joey gets cheap, sucky gifts for everybody!
    oh ! what can I add - just happy valentine day !keep enjoying!

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