BY Vani IN Guest post

This Diwali, I’ll gift dal. Thanks to Mr Jaitley [DailyO]

“For whoever started this stupid custom of exchanging gifts!” my aunt said as we did the rounds of local stores looking for Diwali gifts. “Thirty five people!” she sighed. Well, not exactly, I wanted to say. She had spent two hours repacking gifts she received last year, and at least five people on that list had been sorted. It didn’t matter. Thirty still, and that didn’t make my aunt’s life any easier (my uncle’s retirement only complicated matters and aunt was now operating on a tight budget, too!). Had it not been for those discount coupons she had won at a local store, she would have still been heckling my uncle for money.

Just as we entered a particular store I saw a huge pile of dry fruit boxes in a corner, but before I had a chance to point those out to my aunt, she said, “Three hundred grams packaging for hundred grams of dry fruit as if it is the box we are going to eat!” I wanted to explain the benefits of nice packaging to her, but it was of no use. She had already moved to the next aisle and was presently checking out the price tags of various combo packs of sweets, savouries, chocolates, chips, juices and cakes. My uncle looked at my aunt with hopeful eyes. “I’m not going to spend my money buying this junk! Better to buy green tea packs for all of them. It is also the latest fad!” However, having enjoyed masala chai all her life, the confusion on her face was palpable as she saw a variety of green tea packs. “Half of your friends won’t know what to do with them, aunty,” I said, finally. My aunt agreed, and moved to the next aisle.

The author in me suddenly awoke at this point. “What about books? Your friends might like them for a change?” My aunt looked at me as if I were a fool. She didn’t even reply for something else had grabbed her attention: bedsheets. The trolley was finally beginning to fill, before she changed her mind again. “If I gift a floral print double bedsheet to Pammy, I can’t gift a plain single one to Jeetu,” she said, comparing the items in her hand. “Heena and Omi are also friends, so are Rimi, Sippy and Meena. Better to give them all something similar, no?” she asked me, and then without waiting for an answer moved to the next aisle.

We had already spent a couple of hours like that, keeping and removing gift packs when we crossed the foods aisle. There were no gift packs here, just spices, lentils and flours. I thought my aunt would take a U-turn, when the opposite happened. “I have a wonderful idea!” she cried, pacing towards the shelves. “What about two kilos of tur dal for everybody, huh?” My uncle and I made a face, our way of showing our disapproval, but my aunt remained relentless.

And there you go! We ended up buying 61 kilo bags of the precious lentil that day and as my aunt makes gift packs out of these now, putting her name with flourish, at least she has one assurance – she bought the perfect Diwali gift for her friends this season! “May we all have such thoughtful friends,” she told me, after she was done packing. “Amen!” I said, thinking what would Mr Arun Jaitley say to that.

To read this on DailyO, click here.


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