Archive for October, 2007|Monthly archive page

The Art of Gifting!

Before I begin, let me state the rules of the Art first –

Art of Gifting for me – Get and Forget!

Art of Gifting for you should be (must be, infact) – Give and Forgive!

Rules set, let me pontificate on this interesting but often a controversial topic. How do we give (remember again – for me, it’s always get) good gifts? Whom do we give good gifts to? (to me of course, silly), What constitutes a good gift? Should there be any occasion for giving gifts? Questions and discussions range from the esoteric to the merely trivial. There have been fights and scandals over gifts received/given (oh yes! Believe me, I have been a part of many ;)). (And, now I use THE statement – a statement which has been beaten down to death a million times over) Gifting is an art and not a science.

I guess the art of gifting has matured (or immatured) over the years. From being a tradition to a means of flaunting money power, the meaning of gift has changed both in its form and intent. Gifts should be a reflection of understanding and feeling for our loved ones (wow!). Gifting is an experience (yes, a bad experience for me – it costs me money!). The value of your feelings should be of much more importance than the value of the gift (yes, definitely – don’t I do that always – lots and lots of feelings ONLY)!

Sarcasm done, let me get back to the topic at hand. I somehow am very clear when it comes to gifts. Always receive the costliest of gifts (actually, demand) and always give gifts of feelings and love – which I guess (and strongly believe) is more invaluable than the former. But somehow people don’t seem to empathize with me (I get stares (not to mention some English (****) which I do not want to understand till date))! However, when I am in my very good moods, I try to buy something of physical value (I know, how cheap of them to demand a gift which they can touch and feel and also has resale value!!) not exceeding Rs. 250 (after frantically searching for a discount sale). But still, I get the looks!! Guess, I am not attuned (or heavily tuned) to the art of gifting at all.

However, I realize I am very good at getting gifts – in fact, without hinting at the gift at all. Here is an excerpt of the conversation I had with one of my uncles in the US when I was 20 (yeah, 5 years back…now c’mon, don’t make me nostalgic!!)

Uncle: So, beta! How are you? What shall I bring for you from US?

Me: I am fine uncle (notice the subtlety, not very fine…just fine). Why do you want to take any effort uncle. It’s ok (Damnnn…how did I say that?!)

Uncle: No, no beta! I have to get something for you. Tell me, c’mon!

Me: No uncle, it’s actually ok. I don’t need anything right now (Damnn..the second time, not happening)

Uncle: Now c’mon, be a sport! Tell me.

Me: (Before he says, No, No…Time out, Time out…Gifts for you only next time) Ok uncle…if you insist! Actually I have been watching NatGeo quite a lot nowadays and I like people in it shooting with some lenses and flashlight and something else (see..hinting, not specifyin…a talent developed painstakingly over years!) the animals. I would like one of those.

Uncle: Ho hum!! Cough, cough! Beta…but!

Me: (Before he could say anything) I know uncle, that’s too cheap for your standards but, but still, you just forced me.

Uncle: (No choice left) Ok Kiran (Beta to Kiran…now that’s quite a change, probably indicated lots of love) You will have it (Wow! So much love!).

The next week when he came – he got me a zoom camera (although now it’s lying almost in some remote garage because it involved film rolls and they cost a lot!…On second thoughts, I think it comes under my category of ‘passing this gift to someone else’…hmm, lemme chew on that fact for a while)! See what I said, get the gift without hinting at it.

However, when it comes to giving gifts – I reign supreme. For, what better gift than lots of love and feelings towards the other person? What better gift that you wished him/her on that particular day (taking the effort to remember the day)? What better gift than wishing him/her with open arms (empty of course, not with a physical gift, chi chi…what are you talking about?)? I tried all of the above – but somehow the other person doesn’t seem to understand/relate to my feelings. Probably they are too immature in the art of gifting – for the best gift, I always believe while giving is the one you give with feelings and love J!!

Update: Almost forgot, I have Excel worksheets with extensive cost-benefit analysis of every gift I have ever given (physical gifts, that is – feelings don’t have any cost-benefit :))! Analysis involves the value of the gift I am giving versus the future benefits (which includes gifts, favors etc.) from that particular person. If you want to have a peek at these, mail me :)!!

P.S –

1) I love the recent ad of Cadbury Celebrations – Gifting chocolates is a novel idea and excellently marketed. Touched upon a brilliant point of recycling gifts (passing on the gift you never wanted in the first place) which we do always (Now, c’mon – Admit it!). Perishability of chocolates doesn’t allow you that freedom along with conveying sweet (literally!) greetings.

2) Courtesy AJ’s question – Bribing officials – Will it come under the art of gifting? Hmm…AJ, my blog doesn’t allow scandals 🙂

An Internet Tale! – Heheh!

She was in Mumbai. He was in the US.

She sat in her bedroom in front of her age-old computer, twitching the end of her chunni endlessly.

He had just got up from sleep, visibly excited, switching on his laptop – revising one-liners, statements-that-a-girl-will-fall-for and opened the chat application.

They both were online now.

It all had happened by chance. Engineer-MBA guys were the flavor of the season and he was an Engineer-MBA. He wanted to marry an Engineer-girl. Their parents were looking out for matches – traditionally as well as online. During the course of searching through one of these online matrimonial websites, they found each other. Each one liked the other’s profile (and necessarily, their parents’ also liked each other’s family background etc etc) and decided that they should communicate. Because of the distance involved (she in India and he in the US) – after exchange of few mails, decided that Internet chat would be the best option.

Today was the D-day.

They saw each other online.

(Lines in Italics are his/her internal thoughts. Others are the ones which they type on the chat application).

He: Should I ping her first? Or will she ping me first? Will I appear too eager if I ping her immediately? No, let me hold on till she pings me.

She: He is online right now, so why doesn’t he ping me? Is he not interested in me? I guess being a guy he should take initiative. What will I do with such a non-initiative taking guy? Did I make a mistake?

After a 5 minute standoff, where each party is thinking why the other is not pinging, the guy loses his patience.

He: Hey! Hi.

She: Ufff, finally you dumbo! Hi.

He: I was just checking my mails till now. Didn’t see you online?

She: Oh yeah, really! Kid someone else. Same here. Not an issue at all. Glad you pinged.

He: Isn’t this chat a wee bit uncomfortable? It would have been better if we had met face to face.

She: Didn’t know what to say and didn’t want to look stupid. One trick she learnt over the years if she didn’t know what to say, say – Heheh!

He: Ooohh!! She’s funny too! Sense of humor. Good, Good. So…finished your dinner?

She: Ah! How boring? Anyways, let me continue. Yes. Finished it just now. How about you?

He: I just got up. So….

She: So…

He: Strange behavior lady. Take initiative somewhere. So, what do you like?

She: Like, like what?? Her mother had always taught her to keep the guy in suspense.

He: No, in general, hobbies like that, like that.

She: Ohhh..that!! My hobby is photography. I like reading books too. She always found it fashionable to say that her hobby was photography. Never mind she never had any expertise in it. Her hobby was photography simply because she had a cute digicam. Reading books – ahhh..she wanted to appear intellectual.

He: Ohh!! That is greattt. My hobby too is photography. In fact, I love photography. Reading books – ahh..not that much. But I love listening to music. Again, back in Engineering college and his MBA, he was awed by others because he mentioned photography as one of his hobbies (Later, when they came to know about his photographic skills – well, the matter took a different turn J). He had also heard that mentioning the word ‘photography’ turns on many a lady.

She: Wow!! He too likes photography. I think I found the right guy in my life. What wavelength and frequency match. That is lovely!! So…what if I want to do higher studies? Is your family ok with it?

He: He was always told by his friends to appear progressive. All girls want to study after marriage – that was a rule rather than a exception. He didn’t want to whine. She will study right…what the heck? No, no…not at all. In fact, my family would love a girl who is ambitious. They would be proud of having such a girl in the family.

She: Patting herself again that she found the right guy…so, what else??

He: So, what about cooking? Do you know cooking?? His friends had always taught him to add disclaimers when he asked such questions…No, not being a male chauvinist but asking in general!

She: Smiles…adding disclaimers too, he must be intelligent…I know cooking…not an expert though…will you help me? And she didn’t want to upset him with the next line..so…And how about you? Will you help me with the cooking part….Heheh!

He: Oh..sense of humor again…good, good! Yes, yes. Sure. Will help you with cleaning dishes and washing clothes too. She wants me share everything already…yuhoo…I think this is a done deal.

She: And…how about wearing western clothes?

He: Progressive behavior was the order of the day…No, not an issue at all. Unless you decide to wear spaghettis and minis…hehe!

She: Good sense of humor…I like the guy! Heheh! No, no…I was just talking about jeans and t-shirt.

He: So…what kind of music do you like?

She: When in doubt, say A R Rahman! She was taught this cardinal rule repeatedly. Classical Indian was out-of-date. And Spice girls would sound outlandish. Conservative but good-taste – that was the mantra. Nothing really special, but I like A R Rahman.

She: Oops!! Music of A R Rahman….Heheh!

He: Nice timing of humor again…I really like the girl! A R Rahman…Conservative and good taste. Good, good. I like Backstreet boys and A R Rahman too….wanted to sound macho as well as force himself to like her taste…agreeing with the lady was a big plus – he was told.

She: Wavelength and Frequency match again! She was beginning to like it. So…how about food habits? Non-veg, Smoking, Drinking etc etc. You know typical habits..Heheh!

He: Enquring ability…nice trait of a lady! Good, Good!! No, No, No…I am a vegetarian with no smoking and drinking habits. How about you? Not that I am questioning you…but still would like to know more about you – He was told the line ‘to know more about you’ was very satisfying on a lady’s mind. It helped soothe all her fears and anxiety…in fact, it was a big plus for any guy who asked that question.

She: What a gracious way of asking the question!! Now, I really like the guy. He wants to know more about me – good good sign J Nope, am a vegetarian too…with no smoking and drinking habits.

He: Good, Good. So…what else?

She: You tell.

He: So…do you like me?

She: Hmmm…let me think 😉

He: Was that a YES?

She: Ahhh…I never said that…Did I? She was taught never to say YES directly in such matters – it looked too arrogant. In fact, not saying a YES was more ladylike and guys liked it – she was told by her marriageable friends.

He: Should I ask my parents to proceed?

She: Aren’t we supposed to proceed? Heheh!

He: Good sense of humor again. She is the girl I want to marry!! Yes, we will proceed. I will talk to my parents to talk to your parents.

She: Ok! Hope to talk to you at length after you come to India.

He: Of course, of course! Can I call you now?

She: Nope, not so soon! Heheh! Shall we meet same time tomorrow online?

He: Sure, I am already waiting for tomorrow to come.

She: Heheh!

With that, he closed the chat window. She had good sense of humor, could cook okish – what else did he need in life?

She too closed the chat window – He was gracious, although he was slightly boring – which I can change after our marriage, his hobby too was photography. What else does she need in life?

She smiled off to sleep. He went to office excited. And the proceedings began.

P.S – Before you jump to conclusions, Pure Fiction 😀

I told you so!

Haven’t we heard this line a zillion times before? From anyone and everyone. Usually from older, experienced people to the younger ones but more irritatingly, from your peers, friends and cousins – everyone in the world seemed to have known the result of the endeavor you had undertaken, except one – You.

Before I undertake the noble task of pontificating on this topic, I would like to declare that the author himself has used (and abused) this line umpteen times before – however, he has mellowed down considerably in its usage – blame it on his age, experience, blah and blah.

How many times have people come up to you and said ‘I told you so’ – when something positive has happened to your life? In my experience, I can just count them on my fingers. Rarely, very rarely do you see your friend/relative/cousin/older guy (generically called ‘They’ in this blog) come up to you and say ‘Dude, I told you so’. Even if they did, you would feel irritated – the reason being, you were the cause for this positive result and the result did not happen because ‘They’ had told you before. Aaarrggghhh!!!

The above scenario is atleast slightly bright – because you can sink the ‘I told you so’ bitterness in the positive result. However, most of the time (when I mean most, it means >90%) They would come to you with this line when you are actually down in the dumps – negative result. ‘Arreyy baaba, I had told you before – you should learn to value my experience’, ‘Dude, I told you so right – from now on atleast, you start valuing my advice’, ‘I told you before only na, I don’t understand when will this younger generation get over its over-confidence’ and many many such lines. The max you can do in such scenarios is give them a dirty stare – the only way to get back (my way atleast) is to get to a positive result and shove that in their face.

Observation over an extended period of time would tell you that all the ‘I told you so’ scenarios were pessimistic scenarios – scenarios where the result of the said endeavor was negative. My question to these guys (and these guys includes myself) is ‘How worse can an endeavor get below the pessimistic level you are exhibiting and expecting?’. More often than not (and research has proved it) it would take 100 failures to make 1 successful invention. What is the big deal about being pessimistic? (I have personally seen even the best of so-called optimists utter ‘I told you so’ to poor chaps – so self-proclaimed optimists, please shut whatever).

As everyone and their grandma in the world knows, everyone has a vision of 20/20 in hindsight. It is very easy to say why Walmart was a success, why India won T20 world cup and how liberalization/globalization helped India become a big player on the global stage. Analysis, my dear friends is so easy. But imagine Sam Walton investing his entire life savings in his venture at that particular moment of time, the confidence of Manmohan singh (circumstances aside) to liberalize policies at that particular moment of time – if you have taken a decision which can make/mar your life, you can understand what ‘that particular moment of life’ means.

Decisions in life can be so tricky – at every stage in life. ‘Best foot forward’ has always been my philosophy. Some of the questions I ask myself before taking decisions ‘at that particular moment of time’ might range from trivial to the entirely esoteric. Listening to people, taking in the value of their experience in that particular field, mapping the same onto my analysis of the situation (ahh…explaining this would not be possible on the blog – summarily put, it would encompass probability, psychology, behavioral sciences etc etc etc :)) and arrive at a decision. When I arrive at a decision in this particular way, I am really not bothered about the outcome or ‘I told you so’s. Many of my off-the-cuff decisions have yielded great results and some of them were terrible outcomes. However, the joy I experience after I get to a decision after evaluation is something indescribable. And yes, some of the outcomes were positive and some negative – but look back, and I would have had no regrets at all.

What was the point of the above paragraph? It simply meant that if you are bothered about the outcome rather than the decision (and how it was taken) – you would be troubled by these ‘I told you so’s within yourself as well as plenty of ‘They’s. Get yourself to make decisions in a structured manner, least bothered about the results – you would notice a huge amount of difference. If people even then come up to you with ‘I told you so’s, tell them to ‘Go, Multiply’ [Totally private joke :)…not really difficult to decipher].

P.S –

1) People who know me well, know that I live by the philosophy of ‘Evaluate on how the decision was arrived at than be bothered by the outcome’ – what with I have irritated them umpteen number of times with this behavior. This post might have been a rambling out of this behavior – for all you know, I might be drunk now ;).

2) People who forward me mails about ‘If you had invested Rs. 10000 in Infosys shares in 1993, you would be a Crorepati now’ – please also note that ‘If you had invested in Arvind mills (the biggest and the hottest stock in 1993) in 1993, you would be owing around Rs.2000 today. Noone knew something called IT existed back in 1993. ‘At that particular moment of time’, if you had told me to invest in Infy rather than Arvind mills, I would have booked you for insanity (and couple it with Rs. 10000 to invest was a huge amount back in 1993 – probably three months of savings back then – three months saving in ‘what is that, Infisys, Infosys, whatever, shall we call the doctor to see if everything’s alright with you?’). Analysis and hindsight people, anyone can give’. Let me know if you have any stock recommendation for today – and probably 1 year later tell me ‘I told you so’. I would appreciate that more than the stupid forward.
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