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Imagine waking up next to a window that overlooks nothing but a wall.

So you get
up, stretch, yawn and see the same old yellowing wall, with plaster slightly peeling
away, with the same letters and words every day. Luckily, it wasnt one of those
walls with movie posters, waiting to be spoilt by the rain and the men; instead it
was the compound wall of a convent with biblical sayings written all around. (Youll
see that only if youve been to Kerala). And it said, For God so loved the world that
He gave His only Son. So, for a month I woke up with an ardent desire to give,
than to receive. (Just for a month, mind you.)
Interestingly, my besties birthday too was coming up the same month. She has
been my best bud, my rock for more than a decade. Call it her luck, our ultra-strong
bond coupled with all those thoughts for giving made me mull for weeks together
over what to gift her. Phew! Didnt Bible just boost consumerism! Anyway, thats
how the great gifting conundrum began.
Her choices were unique too. Shes not the girly type, she wouldnt settle for a pair
of fancy earrings or a flashy nail colour. Being the tall girl that she is, a pair of heels
would be the last thing shell ever need. So, you do understand the gravity of the
issue, right? But thats when Sheikh Hasina dropped a hint-gift a jamdani silk the
way she did for the visiting Indian PM. In fact, hadnt Modi too delighted Michelle the
Benarasi way. (Okay, maybe she wouldnt mind a little compromise there, even if I
settle for a lower cost alternative!) Clothes- now that was a brainwave. But sadly, it
dawned to me that her dress sense was no way close to mine. While my wardrobe
was filled with fiery shades of red, she liked the sober ones. Imagine Brinda Karat
gifting Mamata di! Well, that was just to bring out the incongruity of the whole
thing; I dont mean to say she looks like mamata di, shes more like Priyanka Vadra
when she visits Amethi.(Remember those pre-election spectacles, those crisp cotton
saris) Moreover, I had taken this risk sometime back, so not a dress again. Jamdani
and banarasi silk- ruled out. Thanks madam Hasina, though.
Ideas, where art thou? Modi to the rescue again. Why not gift a book especially
when I know that she is an avid reader? Gita and Bible well, she could already be
having a copy of each. Moreover the last time I lent her a copy of the
fountainhead, to make her embrace the idea of capitalism and the virtue of
selfishness, she gifted me The other hand making me realize that the rug under
my feet could be pulled over any time and theres still place for benevolence in this
world. Books- ruled out, an ideological clash is the last thing we would ever want.
So, I thought I would buy her a sweet little card with a cute message, but I found the
lines way too cheesy and pretentious. Something that Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad
Yadav would send each other to celebrate their newly found fraandship. For a
brilliant writer who is bold and frank, this run-of-the-mill wouldnt do. In our 13 years
of friendship what we learnt was that we need not have similar tastes to understand
each other but an understanding of the differences in our tastes.

Around the same time, I heard about Kanthaka, a brown horse that was gifted to
Modi by the Mongolian premier. The same article told me that it was no new idea. In
fact Nehru had gifted a baby elephant named Indira to a zoo in Japan. (What a
daughter, she wouldnt even object to her dad calling an elephant by her name,
huh!! I would have declared an emergency at home.) Anyway, taking a leaf out of
the animal diplomacy book, I considered gifting her a pet animal. I was sure she
loved animals. (I remember how she had gone awry and launched an extensive hunt
for Mihu, her missing kitten a few years back on fb!! :P ) But sadly, that wouldnt
work either. I am scared of every more than 2-legged creature. Maybe, flipkart
could consider free home delivery of pets, people like me would be eternally
indebted. The only animal whose presence or maybe I should reframe it- whose
absence bothers me is the mosquito. It has been my constant companion for life,
come rain or shine. On second thoughts, mosquito well, its my blood that flows
through those tiny wings and antenna and so, there just couldnt be a gift that has
been closer to my heart. Come to think of it- its like straight out of your heart, lovely! Like how they released about half a million sterile mosquitoes
somewhere in China to contain a dengue outbreak, I could do something like that to
contain a heartbreak (resulting out of not gifting a thing). My neighbors too would
wholeheartedly contribute for so noble a cause! But you know, I cant do that
A baby blanket, a rocking chair or a wagon, not a good idea again, after all she isnt
a few months old royal baby. Also, I didnt quite like the idea. (Kids imagination
these days is fired by missiles, Michelle, especially when you have a mama like
Harry. She could have rather gifted the CIAs terror snakes and ladders board game
with al-Qaeda leaders and Saddam Hussein at the heads of snakes. Considering the
number of British teenagers crossing borders to join IS, that would have made a
thoughtful present!) Serpentine queues and traffic snarls, there is nothing new in
that for her, she rules the road; so thats ruled out again.
Fragrances, nah, not at a time when I am cornered by the Ill never let go off you
cold. So while the queen commemorated 800 years of the Magna Carta and spoke
about its far reaching effects, I celebrated 800 hours of a blocked nose and its far
reaching snores. Also my friend has sources to get it imported right from the land of
But thats when I realized that gifts need not be material stuff. They could be
favours like procuring travel documents to flee the country, securing seats in
colleges and universities and transferring funds into your investments. Maybe, I
could tweak it a bit, like helping her bunk classes and flee from professors, catching
a seat for her in BMTC busses and watering her plants when she is away.( saplings
are an investment, okay? and water is a resource!)
Okay, so if you think I am playing around like Housing.coms CEO and have no
actual plans (to buy her a gift), you are in for a surprise. I did buy her a gift, a pretty

little stuff and it does have some utility value. I wouldnt reveal that, though. Of
course, I didnt splurge; you see I didnt want her to get into a disproportionate
assets case!