Cultural anthropology has always fascinated me . Its so empowering to understand human culture, its beliefs , values , political ideologies, economies and other domains of social and cognitive structure .
The nomadic life I led and extensive travels later on brought me closer to cultures that were very diverse from my own . Chatting with the women of the Hualapai Tribe on the Western rim of the Grand Canyon Colorado,helping the matriarch cook a frugal meal in a homestead in Massa Carara nestled in the Northern most tip of Tuscany , meeting up with family in the quaint little town of Carmel California, discussing religion with the ascetics at the Kumbh mela in Allahabad , a casual conversation with a street painter at work beside a water canal in Venice ,sympathising with the woes of an auto rickshaw driver in a sleepy little town on the Deccan Plateau , tête-à-tête with a beauty pageant winner in Bangalore or listening to Radha a sweeper talk to her team about Ugadi ….these are but a few of the most enriching experiences of my life ! At the core of these interactions I noticed lay the selfless act of Giving ! As I delved deeper the circle of generosity got exponentially bigger and the common thread that bound all these cultural differences together was ‘Gift ‘ as a concept !
As an evolutionary trait, the act of giving a gift is probably as old as humans themselves . History bears witness to the fact that even nations exchanged gifts !
Gifts for a season or gifts for a reason , gifts for a holiday or gifts for a Holy day, gifts for an occasion or gifts for suasion ,a gift is a Gift !! An Affirmation: “My gift recipients have the freedom to do whatever they want with my gifts since it is now theirs.It is acceptable for them to reject the gifts and you can still feel good because you gave in the spirit of true unconditional, non-demanding love.” Tom G. Stevens .Thank you Tom for this ! !
I have answered 3 am calls from friends ( who live in the same time zone as I do ) telling me….’Aru I am freaking out , I cant think of a gift for him and its his birthday .’ Terminal ?It sure is ! Can we take that mean that she does not know her partner well enough ? Or is the fear that the gift may not be appreciated? Or both ? Who knows ?
Today the art of gifting has been refined into a science, with gift registries catering to all types of people , all kinds of events including one just for experiences. Great gifts are an expression of the relationship you share, and so often come from an interest you share as well .
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a soppily named book but purports to help you find out whether your significant other values objects, quality time, sweet love notes, acts of service or physical touch the most. And as researchers have dug into the meaning of gift-giving, they’ve found something surprising …..that gifts are more for the pleasure of the giver than the recipient!! Really ? I thought it was the reverse . But then why else would one give presents to ones pet ? Your miracle with paws can’t tell the difference between a milk bone on Christmas and a milk bone on Tuesday !! I object your honour !How rude is that ? Our pet was an important member of the family and would sulk when ignored . For 14 years Snoopy helped us blow out candles on every cake that was baked !
Gift wrapping is another story! Its high visibility and visual appeal adds to the allure taking the art of gifting to another level altogether .’You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give !’ Khalil Gibran says it all in this profound quote .
Gift a holiday , a meal , your company , an experience , something you know the other person will never buy for themselves ,your time , a prayer, your inspirational thoughts or spiritual gifts ! Ideally a gift should combine the concept of compassion and the power of love !
Gifts can come in the form …..of a person, reconnecting with a childhood sweetheart , a grandchild ,a sudden recovery from a long and scary illness , time spent with an aged aunt, discovering something about yourself that you dint know existed , an unexpected travel plan… and more !
Finding thoughtful gifts for people we love ….as a way to celebrate life ….is very very challenging !In my family gifting is a tradition of sorts so it was something I grew up with . Though my significant other is unapologetic about his limited talents with gifting and having said that I must admit , in all fairness ,I did receive a lot of ‘useful’ gifts from him !
One anniversary I got a wrench ! He had seen me struggling with the rusted old one which had shared 22 summers with us ! Thoughtful !!
Then one time an Inverter arrives in the midst of power cuts!! Helpful !!
A weighing scale !! Yes you guessed right , a gentle reminder that I had to offload a pile of accumulated adipose !
Then a set of non stick cook ware !! Healthy eating !!!
An umbrella ?? Oh that … Lady you are not a giddy headed teenager to walk in the rain !!!
The list can go on !!! But that does not mean he doesn’t care ! Its just that he abhors being in a retail experience that he is not comfortable with !
So the next time you excitedly open the wrapper and find yourself looking rather incredulously at a pair of pinking shears , a kitchen foot mat ,a garlic press , a pack of roasted pumpkin seeds , half a dozen mismatched serviettes , a horrendous vase , a Tie rack , a belt hanger or maybe … 4 brandy snifters don’t be alarmed !Its not a patch on your aesthetic sense or your house keeping skills! Don’t say. Gosh ….what was he thinking ?? Hola señora go on admit it ! You would have loved to see ….the key to a Beamer 5 series , a large bottle of Burberry Brit , a one carat petit solitaire ring ,a Thai silk robe , books or at least gift coupons from West Elm !! Darling it is the thought that counts ,I do believe …it truly is !!
Asi que mis queridos amigos…. I invite you to make a list of some of the best gifts you received, gifts you have cherished, gifts that have impacted your life , gifts that you will eventually … regift ! My list begins with Mothers day , the day it all began … every single sunrise has been a gift !! ! Hey folks just for the record my birthday is on 17 th of September ! Save the date people !!!
PS: I have enough clocks and crockery ! Anything else is most welcome !