On Gift Donkeys

July 17, 2006

I am not collecting cheaper editions of Omar Khayyam

- Saki, Reginald on Christmas Presents

The earliest known example in literature of a protest against gift donkeys.

What is it about Big Ben alarm clocks, melamine tea sets, porcelain Alpine maidens, glass eyed storks dipping beaks in purple water, paperweights with the logo Arun Pharma, wind chimes with a dolphin motif, posters of kittens / lovers on a sunsety bench / mountain vista with stream, plastic pen stands, plastic desktop messages from God, plastic photo stands, plastic Eiffel towers, plastic anything, miniature idols of sundry Gods, books by blow-dried Arindams and above all Eagle thermos flasks that people find so irresistible as gift choices?

Take Eagle flasks. India's premier wedding gift. The destiny of most Eagles is a corner of a Godrej cupboard. A bit like moth balls but without the smell. I have always imagined the flask, as it changes hands at the wedding reception, looking up despairingly at the moon a last time, before vanishing for ever and ever into the zenana of its fated Godrej. It can't be entirely a coincidence that Godrejs when placed horizontally have a striking resemblance to coffins. As with many avian species, Eagles too have a tropical appearance. Ideal camouflage among the bright red lehengas, chrome yellow blouses and green Banarsis of cupboard ecosystems. Imagine living in such a space, the monotony occasionally broken by a dimly lit hand groping towards you like in Evil Dead II. The relief as it stops at the petticoat next to you.

Desktop items; please tell me there is no one out there who actually likes having plastic chicken soup messages on their 3 x 4. The "Dear Friend", "Dear God", "Psalm XXX", "Love is A, Love is B, Love is C, ...." kinds that in their 49 rupees earnest inanity make you realise that God exists. Imagine. First someone selects the quote from Reader's Digest and designs the item. Someone else looks at the art work and decides to make 2 million of them in China and other centres of plastic literature. A third distributes them to distant corners of the Indian empire. And a fourth, in fact, the fifth and the sixth as well, pay good money for them. Is that not a miracle? Your role in this cosmic process is to get it as a gift, and if your luck is really in, from the colleague at the next table. So it lies on your desk alongside snaps of your family and been-there-done-that mementos. Occasionally you hear your colleague chortle but maybe he is just snoring ..... Visitors to the Far East on the other hand, drench people with laughing Buddhas (5 Sing dollahs a dozen, each a different pose). And why are these always a dirty chocolatey brown?

Posters; Shah Rukh Khan ok. Beyonce yessss. Aishwarya Rai ok. Eminem ok. But fuzzy puppies nuzzling a fuzzy teat? Small girl peeking into small boy's pants? Two writhing hearts in the missionary position with a poem by Donald Duck?

Infant clothes and toys. Grammatically challenged text, in general, is the thin red line through many donkeys but reach their acme of imperfection in baby material. Clearly the copy writers have damaged language centres in what passes for their brains. Either grammar not existed or The meaning jumped over clause. Or they need better translators from Cantonese. My daughter's extensive wardrobe, almost entirely gifted, has the following communications.

Rabbit happies

Sweet children have sweet memories with sweet cake

Lion and Lamb Love

And the Koan-like

Smack, zzz, dance

Ribbit, meow, ribbit, meow

A final question. If someone has their brains up their bottom, and it hurts, is it piles or a headache?

Whoever gives me the best answer can have my two remaining Eagles.

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deepti lamba
July 17, 2006
11:36 AM

Er....ahem....er....okay..can't say whether its piles or acute case of constipation requiring enema but it does indicate penurious taste;)

BTW creative post and so damn true.

July 17, 2006
01:29 PM

Deepti: Thanks. You kind of crack when you get the 4th Eagle or 3rd laughing Buddha.

You are right, it is probably more consti than piles.

July 17, 2006
01:33 PM

my survival solution after a few, was never open the gift wrapping.

change the card 'from' if you can gently, and add your own from card, and re-cycle. i believe in recycling and eco-friendliness.

i received and receive too many clocks, with and without 'interesting' quotes, probably to remind me of my tardiness. well, unforunately somethings do not change :) especially yours faithfully.


July 17, 2006
01:36 PM


Whoever gives me the best answer can have my two remaining Eagles

nah, dousing sporadic fires feel like procrastinating now

the only thing that will make me move is perhaps another plastic statute of liberty made in taiwan

July 17, 2006
05:46 PM

*quickly hiding metallic eiffel tower and assorted stuff off the table*

ahem, loved your post! agree with you totally, esp abt the inanity of the 'slogan's on kids' t-shirts. some of the stuff my son was gifted were sooo lame, i had to pretend to be generous hearted to a fault and palm them off to gullible relatives!!

July 17, 2006
09:31 PM

Balaji: You are right, recyling is the big mantra to get rid of donkeys. But have you noticed, that some donkeys never get recirculated? esp. Eagles. A near relative of mine has about half a dozen, all neatly arranged, like pretty maids all in a row.

T: Hmmm Taiwan. I have one from Gurgaon, near Delhi will that do? Tho the Statue does have a Punjabi appearance. Not sure if the original has a turban.

Desigirl: Thanks DG. Agree with you. Palming off such stuff is the kindest way to dispose of it. Of course, my little tot herself doesn't care but for our own sanity ....

July 18, 2006
10:22 AM

liberty doing bhangra;)

that i would not mind acquiring

Anil Menon
July 22, 2006
05:35 AM

Laughed so hard, my eagle flask fell off the desk. Please send a replacement immediately.

In "The Fall And Rise of Reginald Perrin", (an 70s Brit sitcom), Reggie is a complete failure till he hits upon selling "grot" (Garbage and Rot). Stuff like round dice, square hoops, 51 card decks... Always a market for grot.

July 22, 2006
07:45 AM

T: Hmmm. It looks more like she has a headphone. Call centre liberty?

A: ::-) Grot deserves its own post

August 23, 2006
04:29 AM

Hey, with the quickening pace of eagle extinction, very satisfied that some eagles will never disappear!!

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