Over the past few days, I’ve realised how Diwali gifting has evolved into a stress monster of corporate obligation for many He was climbing stairs, and in a performance of a lifetime, juggling seven big packets of gifts on top of each other. The lanky young man reached upstairs all sweaty and panting, put up a rehearsed smile on his face, and said ‘Happy Diwali’ while holding one of the packets out for me. “Thanks so much but as a policy, we don’t accept gifts,” I replied and suddenly his expression changed to that of exasperation. “Madam I don’t care about any policy…I don’t even know you but I’ve been given this duty by my boss to distribute 73 Diwali gifts in two days. I’ve been driving in terrible traffic all day, and running around offices holding these big packets. I can not take them back.”
That moment I realised how Diwali, the festival meant for exchanging warm wishes and gifts with the near and dear ones, has evolved into a stress monster of corporate obligation for many. A friend who sports a perpetually stressed look on the pre-diwali days mentioned how it has become a big tension for her to drop gifts at the homes or office of everyone in a long ‘obligatory list’. What about the spirit and the warmth behind the thought of gifting? I asked her and she choked. “What warmth? It’s a duty.”
I feel pity for these stressed souls and also for those who are at the receiving end of these thoughtless gestures. What purpose does a two minute visit to a friend’s place — to hurriedly gulp a glass of juice and thrust a gift in their hands — serve? And more often than not, no thought goes behind these gifts — right from the recycled dry fruit and chocolate boxes, to the unusable crockery items.
It’s been a week since Diwali got over and I can still see some people running around fulfilling the last bits of their ‘duty’. “Infact distributing gifts after Diwali is better. One doesn’t have to bear the traffic jams,” a friend says. Net net, the point is that the thought-fulness behind the concept of gifting has been replaced by stress.
The calmness trick in this case is not so simple, but worth a try. First and foremost, plan your gifting list in advance, and beat the rush by distributing yours way before others have even started. Second, and more important, is to figure out a list of those who you ‘genuinely’ want to wish personally. Take out peaceful time for these visits and leave the obligatory ones to the courier guys. In any case, those who ‘expect’ a gift would be happy to see the gift, no matter who delivers it. And those who expect to see ‘you’ more than the gift are the ones who really deserve it. Be with them and you’ll have a special, not a stressful Diwali next year.
Sonal Kalra had a list of 56 Diwali gifts to give this year. She wanted to begin early but kept waiting for 56 gifts to come to her so she could recycle. Managed only six in the end.
Mail your calmness tricks to her at sonal.kalra@ hindustantimes.com