Tohfa.. tohfaa.. tohfaa.. Laaya.. laaya.. laaya!

(This is not a rant, though it is unexpected, it is seasonal since I’m a part of multiple secret santas and all friends seem to be born in December. This post ends abruptly. Just read it through you know?)
After the previous post, lots of people asked me what book would be “ideal”, what if I don’t like a book? Secret Santa even asked me what I want. Books, duh!
Let’s face it. We’re Indians and we have a million reasons to gift someone and two million reasons to receive gifts. Gifts work as barters some times and then as a chit fund. Who spent how much on a gift to someone validates your budget for the person’s birthday.
Inspired by a friend, this post is something that has been saved in my draft section for the longest time! Simple because, “asking” for a gift is presumptuous and rude. Especially in India, where you smile and accept crockery and then flash another smile and just pass it on to some other person.
Finally comes the part about types of people who gift. The ones who personalise everything, the one who gives a voucher, the one who asks you what you want, the one (usually a relative) who takes you out to choose what you want, the one who just wraps something old in new paper to gift and finally the absolutely sorted person who simply gives you cash and says “kuch achcha le lena.”
My family has seen all of the above. One Diwali we received a “magic tap”, the ones you see in a magic show or the museum’s kids section that runs water without being connected to any pipeline. I have no clue why we received that, or where we’re expected to put it on “display”, but it’s there in the attic waiting for the impulsive sister to start her own magic show some day.
I have a registry I maintain personally. A gift registry for all occasions – Utkarsha’s birthday, festival gifting for Utkarsha, surprise Utkarsha gifts, you’re-so-nice-let-me-buy-you-a-gift Utkarsha, possible wedding gifts and in celebration of me winning the Nobel Prize the same year as the Oscar- gift list too.
I’m picky about what I wear, what I read, where I go, whom I go with etc etc. Hence, when usually people gift me something, I go and exchange it. I am THAT person. So it’s simple, why not take me along? Or simply ask? Budget issues? Boss, I can do Rs. 20 gifts as well. And honestly, if you think it’s cheap and impersonal to give cash or a gift card, think again! Some of my best gifts have come out of those!
Even so, if you want to surprise me (I don’t want to be surprised), then here are the guidelines on what to buy me:
Books and Book Accessories.
Buy me a book I like, I would want to read or something you want me to read! It doesn’t matter! Get me a book and you will see me drool (not over it)! I even have a wishlist  for that purpose, ask me what I want, I send you the list, buy me a book!
I am a reader, I read in at least three languages and numerous translated texts. I read non-fiction, fiction, autobiographies, travelogues, children’s stories, humour, conspiracy theories. See how I left self-help out of that list? Clearly, only one thing is better than books, and those are book accessories.
Make a bookmark! It’s not that difficult to make, the simplest one would cost you around Rs. 20 for 3! Get me a book cover! Or a notebook! Or pretty pages! Anything! I’d really be grateful you know?
I’m the person who gifts books to all and sundry. Yes, I am that nightmare that has gifted books to two year olds and fifty year olds. It’s perfect, even to someone who doesn’t read actively. Enough said I suppose.
Ever met me on a normal day? Seen the amount of stationary I carry around? Seen the amount of pretty stationary I carry? Even my staple pins are red, baba. I like fancy stationary – cool stick notes, pens, pencils, erasers, stencils, files, folders, highlighters, glue sticks, rulers.. you name it and I love it! The dream is to own a stationary shop someday. And sell nothing.
IF You’re Buying Me Clothes.
Another part of being an Indian is the obligation to buy clothes on festivals, special occasions and basically anything you can think of! So here are my guidelines:
a.       I do not wear what is “in”. Do not tell me you bought me fluorescents because college girls wear those nowadays. I don’t. I wear a kurti/tee every single day. And if I’m in the mood for change, I wear a salwar kameez.
b.      Skirts are uncomfortable. A majority of my time is spent on the footboard of the train, obviously skirts are not ideal. Add to that me being extremely shy about showing off legs, they’re a disaster for me.
c.       I like to blend and not stand out. My voice does the latter for me, clothes needn’t do it. A sober pastel or nude colour is often my choice, not the ones with lace/frills/sequins etc.
Okay? I reiterate, take me to shop. I stay within budgets.
Next time, ask yourself. Is it necessary to spend money? Is there something better? Birthday conversations that run into hours? A post-card that arrives out of nowhere! A long e-mail describing to me your day? Taking me out to lunch? (We could go dutch you know). Spend an evening at the beach or at Marine Drive? That’s me! A day at the museum, maybe the Zoo or the planetarium, I love that stuff!
Obviously if you know me, you know that I’m not a spontaneous person! I do not get up and walk out the house, but sometimes I do surprise myself you know? You can never gift anyone anything more than your time. Do that. And then buy me some food. And a book.