Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Art of not giving

It's funny when friends get married and then you have the typical wedding post-mortem conversations. A friend of mine recently got back from his honeymoon, and we got chatting. Since both of us had fun weddings with zero politics, the big thing to discuss was the presents. One thing we had in common was the utter apathy of some present givers towards the present recipients.

Since he had four times the number of invitees, he was stuck with more presents (read more ugly presents). I have already macro-analysed mine many columns ago—what took the cake were two exceedingly ugly vases (one of which the cat thankfully broke and the other has been sent to the mother’s) and some random photo-frames, toilet kits, make-up, lamp shades, crockery and tea-sets (one of which was a toy set I’m quite sure, and gifted by mistake). I really think the time for the gift registry has arrived in India, and if someone doesn’t do something about it soon, I am going to turn entrepreneur for sure.

A common phenomenon at every wedding is gift defaulters—the ones who eat, shoot and leave, and don’t bother to bring anything, because they think no one is keeping tabs. But they are wrong, because weddings are all about lists and even excel sheets (yes!), and one is taking notes. So I know what you didn’t do, cheapskate!

I decided to get into the mind of the gifter and was surprised by how many types there were:

1. There are those who play safe (I find that sensible), decide what is the amount of cash you are worth, put it in an envelope, seal it, give it, and forget about it.

2. There are those who either think cash is impersonal or are embarrassed to let you know how much they think you are worth, so they ask you what you want. Better still, they take you shopping soon after.

3. Some will ask you what you want beforehand and get you exactly the thing.. hurrah!

4. Some will angle for a house invite, so they can check out what you don’t have and give you that. Except that you have to do the work.

5. Some will ask you what you want and get something totally different and make you wonder.

6. Some compulsive gift shoppers will spend hours hunting for the one thing you might like, personally gift-wrap it, and bring it (this populace is shrinking)

7. There are those who, for months after your wedding still keep telling you, “I still have to get you your wedding present,” and not do anything about it. They will also keep throwing possibilities at you, and even if you bite, nothing happens.

8. There are those who keep blaming you for never telling them what you wanted, and hence depriving them of the privilege of giving you a present.

9. There are the cheap recyclers who recycle something old, something they got at their wedding, wrap it back, and gift it to you. The clue to this is big packages. Bigger the package, more the chances of it being recycled.

10. And finally there are those who don’t gift, and don’t care.

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