Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gift Giving

A relative of ours had a baby born recently in Chennai.  We visited the mother and the baby yesterday.  As is the custom, we placed some money as our humble gift on the baby’s tiny pink hands.  The young parents thanked us.  We came home happily.
 
After coming home, we (my wife and I) reminded ourselves of an incident that happened 2 years ago in Gurgaon.  My brother-in-law (my wife’s brother) lives in Gurgaon and he is married to a Punjabi girl.  While we were in Gurgaon we happened to visit one of her relatives.  They had a baby born recently (at that time).  Those relatives are no strangers to us.  We know them very well.
 
As is the custom and also we wanted to, I placed some money in the baby’s hand.  The young mother refused to accept.  She kept saying “no” “no” “no”.  I insisted 2 times and she kept saying “no”.  I then gave up.
 
When returning home, my brother in law and his wife said I should have forced the money into the baby’s hand in spite of the mother repeatedly saying “no”.  She said it is our custom to say “no” several times before accepting the gift. 
 
(I did not ask her then.  Now I think I should have asked her what she meant by “our custom”. Did she mean “Punjabi custom” or “North Indian custom” or “Indian custom” or “human custom”?)
 
I basically trust people.  If I offer something and they say “no”, I sincerely think they mean it.  I am like that.  If my intention is to accept something, I never say “no” for a few times just for the sake of it.  I do not like the “izhupari” (rough translation: tug of war).
 
When I am giving a gift, please accept it graciously. I do not want to beg you to accept my gift.  I do not want to argue with you to accept my gift.  I do not want to fight with you to accept my gift.  If I end up doing that, I am exhausted.  The happiness is gone.
 
What do you say?

33 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you... I have observed similar kind of behavior when guests come home. They refuse to eat/drink. Then, we have to force them. Finally, they give in. I mean, for example, if they dont like coffee/tea, they can say that. Maybe say that they want something cold, Vice versa. The worst is when we dont give anything and they end up telling everyone/others telling us that we are not good at hospitality.

    Maybe this is custom. But, then the emotion of the giver and receiver matters the most!

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  2. What??? Is it a custom to say no? I can't believe it!

    Even I would have done just like you. When someone says no once, I may insist them maximum two more times. But, when they say no again, I would definitely stop repeating the same thinking that they really don't want to have it.

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  3. hahah! that was funny but she was right. In Northern India, esp Punjab side, refusing a gift or accepting it after much 'izupari' is a custom. Your point is valid too, it spoils the feeling and the fun of gift giving.

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  4. Interesting post, as always. I have many friends from the Punjabi community and I am yet to hear of this custom of saying "No" but maybe different communities have different beliefs/practices. But just as you said, if they say “no”, I sincerely think they mean it and accept it as that. Agree with with you where you say that you do not want to beg anyone to accept the gift.

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  5. To the next giver she might have said a fumbling 'um..n..o'.
    When we give a gift we mean it.And in Kerala some people say," It was not nee..de..d," but wiil accept.

    New-new experiences since this is 'no' is new to us the South Indians.Nice to read.
    (Sometimes some letters do not get printed while commenting.)

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  6. If someone says no to me, I take it at face value. Some times it is hard to understand whether people are pretentious or they mean what they say.

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  7. Hypocrisy, that's what it is. It happens both in North and South. In such a situation, I will be happy that some money is saved.

    Destination Infinity

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  8. We Indians are rarely graceful in accepting the compliment or gift..

    Saying no first is not only in India..I saw one movie..Rue Paradis..there also mother tells her young child to say no three times when anything is offered to him, as its rude to0 accept the first time:)

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  9. Thanks for your comments Satya. I know what you are saying.

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  10. Thanks for your comments Sindhu. I am with you.

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  11. Thanks for your comments Ankita. AS you correctly said, I do not like izhupari.

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  12. Thanks for your comments Sanand. Long time. No visit here. You must have been very busy.

    I did not say it was a Punjabi custom. I said I should have asked her whose custom it was.

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  13. Thanks for your comments Sarala. I thought they said "no" means "yes" in a different context. HaHaHa.

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  14. If people refuse to accept my gift, I feel it as an insult because I take a lot of time to decide on the gift! Huh, how many types of customs here, in our country!

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  15. Agree with you on the fact that saying 'no' in spite of wanting it spoils the moment. All the graciousness of the lovely moment is lost, putting both the parties in an awkward position.

    No offense but this incident reminds me of the movie - 2 states :) :D

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  16. I totally agree with you. Usually in North India, it seems to be in vogue, even I had noticed while we lived there. They also have the habit of not taking NO for anything like if we say we have had enough of some dish, they would not stop, they would keep on putting more and more of it. They cannot understand that when we South Indians say NO to anything we really mean it.

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  17. Thanks for your comments OW. You are correct. It is difficult to judge.

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  18. Thanks for your comments Rajesh. I like your attitude. Yup, saved some money.

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  19. Thanks for your comments Renu. People very rarely accept gifts gracefully.

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  20. Thanks for your comments sandhya. Looks like they want to "resist" a few times. Some people over do it.

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  21. Thanks for your comments Rama. If we say "no" we mean "no". Also, if someone says "no" we take that at face value.

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  22. Thanks for your comments Rohini. Do you mean culture clash? I don't think so. May be that young mother is just like that.

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  23. No SG, I didn't mean culture clash. I was talking about that part of the movie where the hero's mom expects gifts when they meet up first with the girl's parents. :D

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  24. Thanks for the clarification Rohini. I have not seen the movie and therefore could not relate to it at first. Now I understand.

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  25. But,it's true that in Punjabi customs,one says NO a number of times before they accept the gift.
    So much for customs

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  26. This is our indian custom I guess.Internally we will be happy but formally say 'no, no, no'.But we feel much happy when our no is ignored and we get the gift;-)
    In some cases no actually doesn't mean a 'no'.It's weird but true...:-P

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  27. It could be a custom, some of these are just like continuing from age old, you need not feel anything bad about it :) And I don't think it is a custom as per se what we mean by custom, it is more of a social practice

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  28. I dont think that saying No is a custom. I think most people have issues with accepting a gift or a compliment graciously! And it kind of makes it so awkward for the giver!

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  29. Thanks for your comments Mr. Chowla. As you said, so much for customs.

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  30. Thanks for your comments Akshitha. And, welcome to my blog. I get tired of prolonged no.

    Akshitha, please visit here as often as possible. Thanks.

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  31. Thanks for your comments Mustaf. And, welcome to my blog. I do not feel bad. I am just not into prolonged tug of war.

    Mustaf, please visit here as often as possible. Thanks.

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  32. Thanks for your comments Shilpa. You are correct. Many people do not know how to accept a gift or complement graciousl.

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  33. Very very true. Why the false pretense of refusing the gift when you know it is just a sign of affection for the little one. As you said, in the process the happiness with which we wished to give the gift just vanishes.

    Why do people complicate such simple things? Sigh!

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