Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Chota sa break

Besides all the long breaks I take from work, I mean. Enough of heavyweight sad morose blog posts. These days this blog makes me sick. So I decided to take a few minutes to write about something a friend and I were discussing yesterday.

The concept of gift registries. A hallmark of this increasingly obnoxious consumerist life and society we live in.

My first brush with them was when I was invited to a friend's wedding here in the US. We were given a link to the wedding registry, which had a nice itemized list of all the things the to-be-wedded couple would need, wish for, or fancy having. The gifts ranged from serving spoons to crockery sets to toaster ovens to fancy ottoman (ottomen?) and what have you. The were spread across two stores: Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. Although this was a really good friend and had I gone to pick her a special gift I might not have put too stringent a cap on the price (if I found something just right for her, and within reasonable limits), when it was all here listed it was easy to sort by price and look for something within my budget.

My budget being pretty much in the lower end of the range. It turned out that most of the items that were at the lower end of the range were gone already! Others who got to it before me had already picked them, and what were left were the more expensive items and a few within my range. Anyhoo, I settled for a couple different items I thought looked nice. Even easier for me, I could have gone online and ordered it and wouldn't even have to bother going to the store, but I went anyway. Once I got to the store, I found that I could print out another copy of the registry, most recently updated thus no gifts would be repeated. Furthermore, the list had the exact aisle number and rack on which you could find any said item. So you just had to stride down the aisles, match catalogue number, pick up the gift and mention the registry while paying for it so that the list could be updated again.

Now I am very much a fan of functionality, utilitarianism and ideas such as this real-time updating etc. In any other setting, I would be completely wowed by this kind of efficient management. But I think that gift giving still shouldn't be such a clinical affair. What happened to the fun of searching through stores, wondering if it would suit your friend, picking it up, packing it in fancy paper, etc? What about the surprise factor in opening up a gift not knowing what it is going to be? Shouldn't some part of the joy of gifting belong to the gift-giver? I certainly didn't get any joy out of this process, where my friend literally demanded, in a very impersonal fashion to me and 50 others what she'd like as gifts, and it was left between us to squabble over who gets to the least expensive gift first! Do not give me the argument of ending up with 20 rice cookers. Gifts are supposed to be just that, gifts. You don't have a say in them, you take what you get and feel grateful for it, for the thought. If its ugly, don't wear it. If it's one too many, exchange it or pass it on..but to demand upfront seems pretty presumptuous and just plain greedy to me. If you need spoons or fancy a leather ottoman then buy it on your own dime! I don't see why your wedding guests should feel obliged to stock up your new life with all these essentials and non-essentials.

Heh. What started out as a small break and a change from morose posts is turning into a rant. :-) Time to get back to work now, methinks.

20 comments:

shub said...

Couldn't agree more. Ditto on the lack of surprise on the recipient's part on opening the gift. I mean, where's the joy - oh it HAS to be one of the things on the list that I NEED anyway! :-/

"Shouldn't some part of the joy of gifting belong to the gift-giver?" nicely put :)

And I'm curious, what happens if you go ahead and get them something that's not on the list? Something that isn't utilitarian and what the person doesn't *need* but an awesome gift in itself?!

Sakshi said...

I recently was a victim of this for baby shower. Bleedy people. Ek toh shaadi ka gift do, phir bacche ka. What next?
Did I say bleedy people already?


oth - I think my gift registry is going to take revenge on all this people leaching me. Its going to be direct deposit into my bank account of amounts three digits and higher. I will account for inflation.

bleedy people.

Mayuresh Gaikwad said...

Here's a way to teach these guys a lesson.
Pool in with 50 other people and get the least expensive gift (and mention 50 names on it)! Or 50 people go at the same time and buy the same gift :)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

shub,
i believe/hope its gracefully accepted anyyways. it did happen in my friend's case - another friend gave her something not on the list and my friend accepted it nicely.

sakshi,
bleedy people only. yes, baby showers is the next biggest farce.rubbish nonsense.

Mayuresh,
ha ha ha! unfortunately most people actually like hte idea of a registry, think it saves time, is convenient etc etc.

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Ooh... ossum idea! If this thing stays, I know I'd put XBOX 360's and Bungee Jumping gift packages in my list. :D Plus maybe I can get people to sponsor parts of this, like, Mr X contributed $50 to my new PS2!

confused said...

We approve of direct deposits....

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

lol @ sudipta

confused,
good to know. now sakshi has at least one assured gift.

confused said...

Stupid woman,

We approve of direct deposits made into our account..

P said...

My exact sentiments. Convenience is excellent but sometimes taking the trouble is part of the fun. What's the point of giving or receiving gifts if there is no thought or surprise in it? Why not just ask for cash or check?

Tachyoson said...

why do baby showers make me think of "its raining men" with all the men in diapers?

Patrix said...

Leave gift-giving to your friends and relatives whom you haven't seen in a while and you will end up with 12 pressure cookers, 27 silver plates, 13 photo frames, and at least one Taj Mahal (if you live outside India). If gifts for you are all about making your gift-givers happy, go for it :)

But I agree with Sakshi and Confused, cash rocks! I usually send an update to the giver about what I bought. Four people now think they alone were responsible for our HDTV. I don't clarify.

tgfi said...

confused,
too late, stupider man. you should've been more clear.

p,
yeah

tachyoson,
lol @ the mental image. :)

patrix,
"If gifts for you are all about making your gift-givers happy, go for it :)"

the way i see it, i don't have any control over what gift i get. i am not entitled to one!

confused is a bloody mercenary. all he can think of is money. thats what long years in school does to you. :p

ferret said...

Well i think gift registries are good. For ppl i am not that close to, it'll be gr8 if i can have a ready list and i don't have to think if they'll like what i buy or not. For those friends who are really close to heart, i'll definitely not be looking at the list, i'll buy something that i've put thought into,, and i'm sure they'll love it.

Sachin Bharadwaj said...

You're absolutely right dude. I was in a same situation once, most things were out of my budget. Only thing which I found apt (me being a photographer) was a photo album and I decided to give it. I also gave a thought of filling that album with photographs, but then someone suggested that the couple may want their photographs in the album and not of those stupid insects or landscapes or nature photographs that I take. Hence without any desire of giving that, I had to give.

Pri said...

for your shaadi i'm giving u a tweety clock and two steel tumblers inscribed with initials of you and your shohar. ok? ok.

Dee said...

yeah, Im still trying to warm up to this idea of a gift registry, I have a friend who tells us what gifts to bring for her daughter or son's birthday ... I coudnt quite get that!

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

ferret,
yeah, i know quite a few people who think they are good, convenient etc. If I don't know the person too well, I guess I could still pick them something nice, utilitarian etc, if they happen to have it or hate it, i would be least offended if they went and exchanged it.

sachin.
yeah..i do think putting your photos in would've been nice. atleast a few. :)

pri,
suddenly it has all become clear. :p

dee,
yeah...i don't get it either.

Goli said...

I hate it when people come and ask me what do you want for a gift, I wish that people should give me gift wrapped stuff, and the surprise, and most of the times the most preserved gifts are inexpensive ones, the ones that you buy on spur of moment.

--
Goli

Cynic in Wonderland said...

agree, agree, agree ..and i dont even like it when people ask me what i want. takes the fun out of opening the parcel!

La vida Loca said...

Personally I think registry, cash and gift cards rock. When I got married, we had NOTHING just an apt w/ 4 walls..these things helped set the place up just right