The Dilemma of a Perfect Phoren Gift

Remember the surprise gifts you used to get when you were little? I am not talking about the birthday presents, but the gifts your relatives or family friends got you when they came visiting, especially the ones who lived in a foreign land!

I remember getting a wide array of assortments ranging from animal-print green umbrella made of cloth, a crate of canned cola, tiny silk skirt, toothbrush and toothpaste from Japan, cotton pants from South Africa, endless tiny perfume tubes from all over the world, red socks from the US, a bottle of body shimmer from Canada, Kodak film from the US, a copy of Khalil Gibran (I was fourteen!)…the list goes on.

While most of these gifts baffled me, the undisputed topper of my bafflement list is the one liter bottle of shampoo. I think it is my lusterless hair. Every time any of aunts or cousins walk into a store and spot a fancy shampoo they think “Perfect for her bad hair!” What else can explain all those bottles that I have accumulated over the years? Somehow not knowing whether my hair is oily, dry, full of dandruff, weak rooted, damaged, or split at the ends has never stopped any one of them. They just picked up the most glossy bottle for me. And to tell you the truth, I loved it every time but never actually finished a single one.

Now that I live away from home myself, I feel the gift-givers’ pain a little. Every time I fly home, I am expected to get something for the kith and kin. Now, I love giving gifts and often certain things remind me of certain people, and usually I pick them up then and there, but somehow as the time of departure comes close, I spend sleepless nights making mental lists of gifts. Then, I spend long hours in the stores walking from one aisle to the other like a mazed pony. The checklist of an impressive gift from foreign land is very tricky.

  • Must not be available in the receiver’s city. (Becomes close to impossible to check off if you are going back to a city like Delhi.)
  • Must not be extremely expensive. (Can bankrupt you and embarrass the receiver in turn.)
  • Must not be inexpensive. (You have a social standing, right?)
  • Must be compatible with receiver’s environment. (Cannot buy a fur coat for aunty in Bangalore.)
  • Must not be available in your city for a cheaper price. (This often comes into play because the first point is never checked off.)
  • Must not look as if you bought in bulk. (The bundle of deos and lipsticks of unknown brands.)
  • Must buy similar gifts for people related to each other, but the gifts cannot be the same. (Pink tee for Pinky, and green for Rinky is passé.)
  • Must exhibit that you bought it from the first world country you actually live in. (Rules out all apparels because they are made in Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, or if you are really unlucky, then in India itself.)

Come to think of it the only thing that fits the bill is a bottle of Tsubaki shampoo.

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One Response to “The Dilemma of a Perfect Phoren Gift”

  1. That is why I love to get chocolates for ppl back home unless someone doesnt like them much. Even now, the nicer ones are not available easily in most parts of delhi.

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