Monday, October 26, 2009
Remember the episode where Ali says “Gift” for his attendance and goes on to explain to Mr. Brown that he is learning new words in English and that gift is another word for present. To the ignorant lot the scene is from one of the episodes of Mind Your Language, a silly BBC show that still manages to make me laugh despite its biases and flawed views.
Anyway the topic on hand is gift or present if you please, the kind that is given to other people every time they call invite you for food. Staying on the topic I remember a story in Archie where Mr. Lodge is worried about the Christmas gift list because he has to ensure that 1) he gifts the same value to those who had gifted him so that he does not embarrass them 2) he does not gift lower in value to those who gifted him so that he does not appear cheap. The biggest worry is to gift a business prospect who would give him a large business order. Betty tears up his list saying that the Christmas spirit is not measured in money and explains the real spirit of Christmas. The story ends with Mr. Lodge sending a box of home made fudge to that client who despite getting big gifts from others valued the fudge and gives the contract to Mr. Lodge because he understood the real spirit of Christmas.
Now I may have bored you with these two stories but they sum up my activities recently. Owing to tight budgets, office sanctioned us a very small amount to gift our business contacts for Deepavali. Now the festival is characterized with excessive gifting and many clients actually expect to be gifted. So after much jugglery we ended up giving chocolates to the clients and despite our best efforts we ended up exceeding the budget and paying from our own pockets as the list kept growing. One take away was that there are principled people who declined these gifts and said that they would appreciate these gifts being given to those really in need. Then there are others who add the gift to their growing collection and just go about their work. Often our small gift got lost in the heaps.
The problem is more acute when it comes to friends and relatives, when I find that around me everyone has the same problem as Mr. Lodge. You cannot gift more or less than what you are gifted. I think this is silly and defeats the purpose of gifting. Thoughtless gifts are as problematic as gifts that take up so much mind space. If some body gives me something worth X and I give back something valued X, then it is simply a barter transaction and nothing more. I don’t think we can ever give back what we get, and we only manage to play out this farce with people whom we should care for. Aunt A gives you a chain for your wedding, so you give daughter of Aunt A a chain of same grammage for her wedding. If that is the case then lets do away with gifts completely, I admire those who take this stand. I have missed two opportunities, I think next time I will also do this.
A gift is a symbol of our love, if the symbol is going to be measured by the amount given by the other then we have a real problem on our hand and maybe is a reason why this world is so love less. As mentioned before we can never always give back the same value to those who gift us, especially those who really matter to us, and for those who do not matter so much why bother. The list of people who matter God, parents, family…