Have you ever wondered why most people take a year-end break and go on a vacation to distant places? I am sure you would not have pondered over this poser, as because you have better things to do in life.
But not me. I have a column to fill every week, a task that is usually preceded by the rigour of gazing pointlessly into nothing. We, writers, like to label this as ‘creative process’. But the rest of the world knows it for what it is: Lazing around.
Getting back to the question I started with, most people take a trip to far-flung locations in a bid to escape what they experience at home. This is a historical truth. Columbus must have had a nagging wife. Ibn Bathutha was perhaps deep in debts. Britain built an empire across the globe for centuries simply because its citizens set out to new frontiers in search of decent weather.
Living in England during winter is like watching a ponderous Bengali or Malayalam movie (the kind of film where the most discernible action on screen is the ringing of the curtain) without subtitles when you are nursing a hangover.
It is logical for those inhabiting cold-weathered countries to seek the warmth of tropical shores during winter times. But why should we Indians wing out to strange and inhospitable places during winter, when in actuality it is the only period in the calendar when the climate here is agreeable? Well, I suppose it all boils down to only one thing, the fear of year-end gifts.
Now you may wonder how gifts, which most of us in general hanker for, can trigger a sense of dread. But you will agree with my view if you have been saddled with table-clocks or coffee-makers or casseroles which are manufactured with the explicit understanding that the buyer will not keep it.
These products never serve any purpose, except perhaps if you are looking for an efficient apparatus to attract bored spiders. Coffee-makers meant as gifts are somehow timed to last for 15 minutes. The table-clocks don’t even have to work. The casseroles are sent to the attic even without the cover being opened. But, for reasons that are mired in mystery, these items continue to be preferred items among gift-givers. Gift-takers, precisely to avoid more coffee-makers and clocks in their already cramped lives, scurry off to new places around year-end, which is usually the season of gifting.
It is clear from the fact the coffee-makers continued to be manufactured that the dos and don’ts of gifts are not well-established. That is where the following primer in Q & A form should come in. It is written with the sincere thought that since you did not protest when people gifted you casseroles, you will accept anything that comes your way.
Q: What to gift?
Ans: To understand this you must know ‘what not to gift’, which, as you can see, is the next question.
Q: What not to gift?
Ans: To grasp this you must figure out what all can be gifted, which in case you missed it, is the previous question.
Q: Why are presents called gifts?
Ans: I am not an English teacher.
Q: Why are gifts called presents?
Ans: Many things have the utility of being physically present without being of any use to humanity. No I am not talking of journalists and lawyers, I am referring to all items that seemingly decorate the mantlepiece. Waterford crystal is a precise example. That is why it is extremely popular among the moneyed sections.
Q: What do I do when I see a coffee-maker?
Ans: As a responsible citizen, and as a person who thinks for the betterment of humanity, you have to set them on fire immediately. Don’t worry about burning plastic and increasing global warming. In fact, global warming is a small price to pay to rid this world of the pestilence of coffee-maker.
Q: What about casseroles?
Ans: Summon the al-quaeda or LeT.
Q: Don’t you think it is reasonable to gift diaries and calendars around New Year?
Ans: Granted, calendars are useful in barber shops since some of them come printed alongside pictures of scantily-clad women. When the pictures are of Gods, you take them to home and piously let them lie in the cupboard. Diaries come handy to note down ‘milk account’ and tally the dhobi list. Otherwise, they are as useful as your local MP or MLA is, which is to say they aren’t useful.
Q: Which gift never goes out of season?
Ans: Money. You can check this out by sending me some. Money for me is not generally present, it is absent.
Q: What is the most ideal gift?
Ans: In the circumstances, we are in (you struggling to endure this column, while I am scrambling to think up further kinks), an abrupt end to this piece would not be a bad gift.
(This is an old column of mine. Put it up just because this is mildly topical)