My stupid gifting ideas for Mother's Day
As Mother's Day approaches, Avi Nathan* recounts the time he tried to make his mom feel special.
Celebrating Mother's Day can be quite a tricky affair.
Well actually celebrating ANY day can be a task but with Mother's Day it becomes especially difficult considering she is your mom and however much you'd want to believe otherwise there will be a hundred people around telling you how much you owe her and why.
And then there are those cards and stuffed toys that make you feel guiltier.
If that wasn't enough, when I told an office colleague, old enough to be my mother I had nothing planned for Mother's Day, she made sure to point out that I had gifted my girlfriend an iPod only a few weeks ago!
So with some amount of reluctance, ridden by guilt, cursing the gods of commercialism and about nine hours away from Mother's Day I decided I had enough.
"I will make my mother feel special."
As I said this to myself, I turned my chair around and turned off my phone and all the idle windows on my machine. Then with a sense of purpose I looked at the screen and did what anyone in my position would've done.
Much to my surprise the query "how to celebrate mother's day" threw up some 41,800,000 results in a matter of 0.09 seconds.
Good! So the first step had been taken.
I remembered the Chinese saying about the journey of a 1000 miles beginning with one step and felt overwhelmed.
After so many years of living away from my parents and family, I was finally going to do something worthwhile for them. I was going to be the son they'd be proud of.
I even imagined buying my mother a microwave oven and pictured her telling my dad, 'Our son has grown up' like that dude in the ad on TV, when his daughter gifts him a car.
So I open the browser and search for the best microwave in the market.
About two-and-a-half-minutes into my search, I am choking on the prices -- 17k to buy a piece of machine that my mother will use for little else other than heating leftovers of two days? And feed me the next time I go visiting?
Out of the question!
My heart sank and I sat looking at my computer screen blankly.
I suppose a colleague noticed and offered to take me out for chai.
'My machine crashed. Was it a sign?'
Sometime in the middle of my third chai I remembered that the answer to all of life's questions was at my fingertips. Heck it was back at my workstation and had taken exactly 0.09 seconds to appear before me!
I left the chai half way and ran back to my desk only to realise that the machine had crashed, again.
This wasn't good. Was it a sign that I should abandon the idea of buying her a gift? Or was someone up there testing my perseverance.
If it was the latter, I had to say I score very low on that.
I gave up the idea of gymming after working out for t-h-i-r-t-y minutes on the first day.
So if God was trying to test human perseverance, he had picked the wrong guy.
As I stood there wondering what my next step should be, I saw an IT support guy walk by.
Now in my years of working in that office I had NEVER seen an IT support guy.
So even as workstations would crash, DVD writers would mysteriously go missing and be replaced by cheap CD players (of a different colour) and projectors would fail in the middle of presentations, the IT support guys would remain elusive.
But today, of all days there he was -- a real live IT support guy in flesh and blood walking around as if waiting for me to call out to him.
"Kya hua?" the IT support guy asked. His eyes were drooping, hair scattered, shirt tucked out and it looked like he hadn't bathed for at least a few weeks if not more and definitely hadn't shaved for about nine and a half days.
Funnily, it hadn't occurred to me till that day that none of the IT support guys I'd come across during my career looked any different than the chap standing before me. And he wasn't even wearing a deodorant!
I realised now why I didn't count a single IT support guy as a friend. I also realised then why I'd get the worst of the workstations and why those darned things would always crash at scarily regular intervals.
"Machine crash ho gaya!" I said.
"Porn surf kar raha tha?"
"Nahi," I replied calmly.
As he tinkered around I felt a swell of pride. My Zen was with me. I hadn't lost my cool. All those self-help books were helping me stay positive after all!
A few seconds later he turned, looked directly at me and asked again.
At this point I launched off on a tirade that ended with something about me taking it up with the president of the organisation who I told him was my friend.
"Kya lagata hai saab. Woh yeh office mein thodi baithta hai. Aap kabhi usko dekha bhi hai kya?"
Silence, I decided, was golden.
'What do you gift a mom who has everything?'
About 30 minutes later I was told that the machine was back and running but I shouldn't keep any Internet browser window open for too long.
Apparently the search that took about 0.09 seconds to complete was lying idle for a very, very long time.
So I started all over again
This time I came across a site that specialises in 'How to' ideas.
So if you were looking for anything that starts with, 'how to' you'd see this site is among the top three searches.
Type out 'How to French kiss' or 'How to attract girls' and it will list out some 30 step-by-step articles on the topics!
Some genius who designed the site also insisted on rating e-v-e-r-y single 'how to' ranging from 'easy' to 'difficult'
The above two tasks are rated as 'moderate' and 'moderately easy'
By that rule buying 'Mother's Day Gift for the Mom Who has Everything' was hardly going to be a cakewalk.
It was listed as 'moderately easy'.
I took a deep sigh, looked at my watch and started reading the article.
Now the problem with these firang websites is that NONE of their ideas make sense. Not to me at least.
These were some that were listed:
'Buy a card'
I didn't need YOU to tell me that! I have three Archies and Hallmark card shops in my area. You think I hadn't thought of that?
Just in case if you didn't notice, many of us stopped giving cards when we were in school.
The last one I had given someone was one that went something like this: 'I love you. You are the best'.
That was when I was in the eighth grade.
I got a single word scribbled note in return: 'Moron'.
Oh really? And give my father an opportunity to lecture me about the transient nature of flowers and life. AND have my mother tell me how they die the next day and what a mess they create?
No sir. Thank you very much. And yes. I also have florists in my area if you didn't know. So yes I had thought of that one too.
'Sponsor a spa treatment'
Okay so here's the problem. My mother has NEVER allowed anyone to touch her.
We never hugged or kissed and if you look at our family photographs you will notice that even my father always stands about three inches away from her. (Sometimes I really do believe in the theory of storks delivering babies)
So what makes you think she will even think of going to a spa, dear white advisor?
'Take her to the opera'
REALLY NOW!?!? Opera!
If you happen to step out of that developed country of yours you'd be surprised to know that despite being ruled over by the British for 350 years Mumbai has ONE opera house that stopped showing operas about 30 years before MY MOTHER was born.
So yes that's quite a lame idea too.
'Give her a personalised gift'
'A coffee mug or a t-shirt with a picture of you and her grandkids' is on the top of this list by the way.
Now if I got it right, it's Mother's Day -- not Children's Day. Why would you want to give a gift to your mother that has YOUR picture on it?
The website of course justifies it saying the gift 'will remind her often how much you care'. Hain!?! Really?
If I know my mother enough I suppose she is at this very moment sitting somewhere asking herself the question that many of us have or will ask ourselves in the future: "Why did I have kids?"
Think of it. It does make a lot of sense.
The friend who regrets being a mum
A very close friend who's had a little baby boy about two years ago is regretting the idea already. It started, she tells me, weeks after he was born.
To celebrate his son's birth, this friend's husband gifted her a spanking new car.
Two weeks later, the car alternatively began smelling of milk, pee and poo.
About six months ago, she gave up the idea of getting the house painted because the little one had done a pretty good job with his crayons and watercolours anyway.
More recently, she called me asking if my girlfriend and I could go drinking with her.
"It's been a while," she seemed to suggest breezily though I was quite sure it would eventually end up being an evening of whining and griping which it did.
Over tequila shots and some awful martinis we were told of the travails of raising a kid and enlightened on the expense of raising one.
It starts, we were told, with the school fees. Apparently the annual fees of a good IB school in Mumbai can burn a hole of a couple of lakh rupees in your pocket.
There's another school I'd heard of in the plush South Mumbai area, which insists that kids as young as five years carry iPads so they 'learn better'.
This friend's husband, a doctor who joined us later that evening, told me his entire medical education cost him less than a single year's fees of his son's prospective school!
Suddenly the martinis began to taste better!
Through the evening though I couldn't help noticing how my friend who was once so chirpy and enthusiastic had since her son's birth become not just dull and boring but also very, very irritable.
She needed little or no excuse to snap. You cracked a joke and the girl who'd always have one in return would now only smile wryly.
In one of her drunken stupors she even confessed -- and I know she will never own up to this -- that becoming a mother seemed like a romantic idea at the beginning but was slowly becoming one of her biggest mistakes.
So it seemed to me sitting before my machine that day, hours before yet another Mother's Day what a great folly it might be to remind my mother of one of the biggest mistakes of her life!
Feeling lighter, my conscience clearer than ever before and my wallet intact, I turned off my workstation and headed to Hard Rock Caf .
I needed a drink.
*Name changed on request