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It’s my best friend who also doubles up as my flatmate’s birthday next week. Next week is also another friend’s birthday as well as another colleague’s whom-I-don’t-like- but-have-to like-for-business-reasons. So what all this translates into is a weekend of shopping for appropriate gifts. Now here’s the thing – I do not like shopping! I think I am one of those abnormal girls who really see’s shopping as a waste of time and does not indulge in it unless her clothes have turned to tatters or the house is falling apart and needs new furnishings! I abhor shopping; the thought of it makes me want to cuddle further in my bed and disappear. It brings back all thetraumatic memories of my childhood where I had to follow my mother around in the malls while she shopped and I sulked because I wanted to buy a book and sit in the ice cream parlour reading it while eating through a double Sunday! Thus with such an amazing baggage I abhor birthday/marriage shopping even more.

I think gift cards are the way to go, but several people have told me that personalized gift buying is more kind and demonstrates you cherish the person more than a cold gift card. Now I do not see what’s wrong with a gift card- give me one and I will spend it in a jiffy in a bookshop. I would much rather prefer it, than have people who have no idea which author I like or do not like gifting me something I really detest (Like Ms Meyer) or something I have purchased centuries ago, but they want to gift it to me because they have recently seen the movie and think it’s a new book (Like John Le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy- why cannot they Google the publication year and save everybody the trouble is beyond me!) I know it’s the thought that counts and I do appreciate the gesture that this non reading population makes in going to a shop and hunting for stuff which they have no idea about but think I will like, but really I do not need 4 copies of Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul just because he won the nobel prize and I said I like his work at some gathering!

Anyhow, the problem is not only with this non reading population that wants to gift me something; the problem also is what I gift to this non reading population. My flatmate is easy – I gift her some Kinglsey Amis and Terry Pratchet and she is as happy as she can get. My friend is also easy – I will buy her Mircea Eliade’s Bengal Nights and I know she will be one contended kitten. But the problem arises for the third one, the-colleague- whom-I-don’t-like- but-have-to like-for-business-reasons. And it’s not about him but all those upmarket people with scintillating lives and vacations in France with their Gucci/Prada bags and what nots – what to gift them?  My biggest strength in the shopping arena is out of the window – they do not read and I don’t want to give a Salman Rushdie that becomes a decorative piece in their drawing room shelf.  I am not sure what Perfume; oops sorry I believe its eau de cologne, to give them. Like my book reading, they might already have something which I choose or worse horror horror for them, the product I bought is too downmarket. I must add a note about gifts of music –even if they do like music, it will be techno or trance or something where I will be completely out of my depth – which is very much western classical and Jazz and of course I will buy something they will can download or do not like. I have tried changing tactics and buying them business utility products like a leather laptop bag only to have found out later that they have already have a designer bag and mine has been designated to the back of the attic filled with some old family papers which no one cares about. It’s the same with crockeries. I buy a dinner set only to realize that the couple already has 7 of them of which three of them are real bone china. I am bad at buying clothes – the shirts I buy are either too large or have too many check patterns for that person to wear. Most of these people are not close enough for me to splurge on a watch or a piece of jewellery (even if they were close enough- my budget does not permit me to buy a watch for myself, let alone gifting one!…remember I am quintessential struggling writer here) One cannot gift shoes, and pens seem to be too much of a  trifle in today’s days of computers. Flowers are very temporary as are food items like cakes; besides they are more of an addendum gift but hardly the main course if you know what I mean. And though Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaims that “The greatest gift is a portion of thyself”, I am very confident that my friends and acquaintances do not want a portion of me (for many of them knowing me even for a limited period of time with all my quirks and weirdisims might is in itself a challenge) and I definitely do not want to part with any part of myself away from me for them!

So I am stuck….what does one gift a person who has practically everything and is not quite into cultural and what I feel eminently more giftable interests like reading or music (my kind). So I am reverting back to the good old gift card – buy it, fill it, gift it and forget about it. I cannot personalize the gift card, but atleast I know the person I am picking it up for will end up using it for something he or she likes or wants instead of me  giving them something they do not like or want!!!

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