The perfect gift

Published On: January 19, 2018 09:40 AM NPT By: Kalu Maila

If you are invited to a wedding party, barta bandha, or other social functions, you don’t have to worry much about what gift to give to the guy who has come of age or the girl who is getting married to a fruit or the person who is finally getting married to another person with all the 32 great qualities present in a human being. All you need is an envelope and just put some cash in it. 

According to my neighborhood swami, the guy who spends his day reading newspapers inside our local chiya pasal and then ends the evening with a bottle of local wine at the same venue, recently gave me a suggestion on how much to give during such functions. I wasn’t there to try the local wine because it’s been four months since I stopped drinking. I was in the chiya pasal because my wife wanted me to buy the ‘world famous’ sel-roti and chana-aalu at seven in the morning. Our swami was there, drinking his milk tea, and reading one of our major dailies and talking politics to whoever would listen to his rants. 

The swami tells me that if you are invited to a party palace, just put 505 and if you are invited to a five-star hotel then double the amount. But I tell him that even party palaces charge at least 700 and up for their food these days and the price of food at hotels is at least double the amount if not much more. The swami tells me that you are not paying for the dinner but just contributing a little less so that the person hosting the party will get some cash to pay the bills later. I think gifting cash is the best thing you can do but please cut down on flowers and khadas. The flowers will wilt and give off a stench and you can’t really make curtains out of the khadas so that’s as useless. 

I think a perfect gift for all occasions is a book. I only gift books to whoever invites me to their birthday party. My wife does not like my habit of running to the bookstore to check out if there is any interesting book for the person who has invited me over to celebrate his or her birthday. My wife prefers stuff like flowers, chocolates, and clothes. If it’s summer then she wants to buy a t-shirt or summer dress and if it’s winter then it’s scarves, sweaters, and other wintery stuff. 

I tell my wife that clothes will tear or get worn out and, in a few years, will be thrown away or put in a box never to be opened till they have to dig for something to give to charity. But books are books. If the person who receives it manages to not throw it around or worse let other borrow it then books will be around for a few decades and can be enjoyed by all. You can’t keep on sharing the same jacket or sweater.

Whenever I buy books as gifts for the birthday boy or girl or man or woman, I first try to find out what their interests are. My nephew, like all young boys, is into dinosaurs. So I bought him a book about dinosaurs for his birthday this year. My wife was not happy.  Last year, I had gifted him a book on monkeys and apes because he had watched one of those ‘Planet of the Apes’ movies. My wife gifted him a sweater as usual. 

A friend of mine is a fitness freak and he is into fitness like Ram Dev Baba does yoga. The Baba can make us go gaga with his stomach waves while my friend makes some of the ladies go gaga with his abs. I could not find good books on how to build muscles and be a giant so I opted for a book on that guy who lives in the wild and makes a TV show about it. Maybe, someday, if he ever goes trekking on his own and gets lost then he can make fire out of nothing and at least know which grass to eat and which to use it for other purposes.

I really love it when people gift me books on my birthday. My friends even gift me books when they come back home from the West because they know me as the crazy one who will read anything from cookbooks, novels, biographies to even washing machine manuals. It’s been a few years since I started reading Nepali books as well, mostly biographies by our army generals, business people and comedians. I hopem someday, we will get to read biographies by our politicians as well. I know every story will be the same and everyone will try to paint himself as the hero but I, nevertheless, want a glimpse into their lives.

My wife doesn’t like to read books. She finished her masters recently and I’m proud of her for completing her studies. Well, I didn’t expect her to finish at all but she did it and, as usual, I was wrong to underestimate her. Nowadays, I sometimes find myself reading her university textbooks for fun. 

I think gifting a book is worth more than just giving cash or flower or buckets or rice cookers or washing machines. Wouldn’t it be fun if, instead of bribes, we only gifted books to people in power? Maybe they will be enlightened and pass the budget to establish public libraries in every ward in the country. Until then, let us all keep reading and gifting books to one another and make our world a little bit better one book at a time.

The writer is a house husband who believes in changing, if not the world, the community he lives in one person at a time. Reach him at

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