It is a very fine art. You learn with age. Or should I say you realize after some time.
Back in Madurai, we have no tradition of gifting. Of course, we do part with a piece of our earnings…just that we do not go to Archies or a Lifestyle or a Design store searching for that good-looking, cheap gift. The invitees would just walk in with some money in an envelope, and hand it over to the person celebrating.
During my early days in Chennai, I would notice all invitees walking into the reception/marriage hall with a gift in hand, with a nice golden gift-wrap hiding the contours of the cheap gift. Now, it is a different debate that gifts cannot be cheap because it`s the thought behind it that matters.
A curious me wanted to know the kind of gifts exchanging hands and I asked a friend who had invited me, if I could be present during the gift-opening ceremony. He reluctantly agreed. Perhaps, because he owed me Rs 2000. It was a big affair. His grandma, who cannot walk was also wheeled in from the next room.
While my friend`s mother wanted the biggest gift to be opened first, my mate said he wanted to go from the smallest to the biggest. The issue was finally settled. My mate picked up the smallest gift…it had come from a common friend of ours. The guy had gifted four tea cups with saucers. “Bastard!,” I heard somebody saying. Don`t know which side it came from.
The next gift was a night lamp. By the time we finish, we would be left staring at 18 night lamps. Wonder why people think after marriage most couples end up sleeping.
After the lamps, it was a casserole. Next, a flask. Next, wall clock. Next, a picture frame. And then, the gifts started repeating itself. Intelligentsia had even taken the trouble of gifting a Sidney Sheldon. Perhaps, he/she had finished reading it.
Then there was another common friend called Prakash, who gifted him a towel. It looked familiar. Had I gifted it once to Prakash…I was not sure. I looked for that small tear in the corner…which was the reason why I had parted with it in the first place…and yes, it was there. So, that cheapo had forwarded my gift. Now, I also forward gifts.
I have already marked the ones that are not good ‘gifters` and don`t invite them to my functions. BTW, did I tell you…I have not been getting much invites lately.