Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Gift of the Magi

In an age of abundance, what do gifts mean?

Yes, General Malaise on duty today, too!

The tone of the discussion in this post won't be anything new if you have been here long enough.

When we were kids, I looked forward to grandmothers visiting with us in Neyveli not only because it would be fun times but also because of the awesome therattipal.  For that matter, even now, practically every time I have a phone conversation with a great-aunt, she recalls how my brother and I loved the nendra pazham jam that she made.

All those sweets were like the gazillion awesome tasty stuff that were all home-made.  I remember them, and recall them so fondly, because they were all made by hand by my grandmothers and aunts.  If they had brought with them sweets and snacks that they had purchased from the store, I doubt that I would have such fond memories of food and people.  Which is also why I don't have any special memories of, say, Tirunelveli halva--as much as I liked them then, well, they were always from the halva store.

Now, during my visits to India, rarely do people seem to make sweets and snacks at home.  There, too, like here in the US, abundance is clearly visible.  Restaurants are in plenty and all of them seem to be forever filled with customers.  Therattipal is not a big deal anymore--it is available any day at the store that is round the corner from my parents' home.  Oddly enough, I don't enjoy those sweets--what my mother makes is infinitely tastier, especially because she makes it.

We live in a world where we rarely ever spend a great deal of our time in order to make a gift.  We buy stuff made somewhere in China and warehoused somewhere we don't know, and pass it along as a gift.  We do not even bother to write personalized notes and, instead, outsource those sentiments to greeting card manufacturers.

So, back to the question of what gifts mean in an age of abundance.  And more than that, what do gifts mean for relationships?

 I am stumped!

All I know this: There is something missing in this contemporary abundance.


Ramesh said...

Well, irrespective of the item that is gifted, the process is the same isn't it. If there is thought and feeling behind the gift, it is priceless. If not, its just another thing.

Earlier this week, when I was in Chennai, I went to see my cousin. Her little daughter, who is a particular favourite, scooted off near the end of her visit to her room telling us not to go till she was back. In a few minutes, she emerged with a card she quickly rustled up for me. No chance I'll ever forget that !!

Incidentally , again in Chennai, I went to an Aavin store to buy therattipal. I was met with blank looks when I asked for it. A comedy of bewilderment followed. Finally I spotted the box and asked for it. The people in the store looked at me peculiarly and said it was paal khova and what on earth was I meaning asking for some vague thing they had never heard of !!

Sriram Khé said...

"the process is the same isn't it."
No way. The time spent creating a gift is not the same process as surfing over the Amazon website and clicking on a product. Not even close!

Oh, Krishna Sweets labels them as therattipal. The store is just round the corner from where my folks live. Yet, I have lost the taste for the sweet from the store. No grandma's love :(