Sunday, 4 July 2010

The perfect gift

The Gift of the Magi” , O Henry’s beautiful short story, is perhaps something you read in school. It’s the story of Jim and Della, a young couple, who were broke. One Christmas they wanted to give each other something special. Well, I won't tell you the story if you haven't read it before. Read the story via the link - even now it can bring a lump to the throat. A moving story, that made a deep impression on every child.

The art of giving is a very difficult art. We are faced with this dilemma every day – what do we give – for a friend, or a spouse or a parent, or whoever. As we all know, its not the price that counts, its not the beauty of the object that counts. It’s the thought. But what CAN be the thought ? What is the most appropriate thing to give ?

Very often its very cultural. Take wedding gifts. In China, its easy. You give money in a red envelope. Preferable an amount which has a 8 in it (the number 8 is considered auspicious – that’s why the Beijing Olympics started at 8.08 PM on the 8th day of the 8th month in the year 2008). In India it used to be gold. Tonnes and tonnes of it. I simply cannot reconcile to the American habit of the wedding registry where the bride and groom register at a shop and publish a list of what they would like for guests to choose from. Yes, I know the culture is capitalist, but look how far has that country come from O Henry’s story – O Henry was an American !

Think back to how you have been bowled over by an extremely thoughtful gift. Rarely maybe, but surely once or twice. And how often you have been burned by thoughtless gifts which are bound straight for the attic or for cheekily being fobbed off as a gift to somebody else.

Granted, its not always easy to pick the perfect gift. And these days, we seem to be gifting every other day. But for those truly special, is it all so difficult to pick the perfect gift ? Especially if we know them every well ?

I write this post today, for, yesterday I received a perfect gift. Something that has left me all misty eyed. I am on my farewell rounds these days as I prepare to leave China at the end of this month. I was taken out to dinner yesterday by a lovely young couple. A young man and a girl who are due to get married in a few months. They gave me a book. A really professionally produced book, with a hard bound cover and glossy paper. They had downloaded this entire blog and produced a book out of it. Wow ! Double Wow !! Triple Wow !!!

Tony Chen and Corrine Wang – you have the spirit of the Magi. Feichang ganxie nimen. I have never received a more priceless gift. I shall treasure this, and the thought behind this.


  1. Amazing gift, what a feeling it should have been... very very thought gift...

    the gift of magi is one story that as you rightly said touched and remained in every heart which read it.

    But gifts today have become so routine and more a formality, a tick off process rather than a piece of one's heart which the other wants to share. in that context, what the americans do is somewhere right. what is pointing in gifting something which actually ends up not being useful.

    But even in america as it is every where else, when real close ones try to gift, they would make an attempt to make the surprise gift. end of the day, it boils down to whether u r gifting from the heart or gifting from the purse.

  2. Loved ,loved loved this post Ramesh! Really wonderful gift indeed!

    Will mail you on two priceless gifts I received and two priceless gifts I gifted.

    I did not know you were leaving China. Back to India? I am sure you will miss China but the memories you have here I am certain are priceless.


  3. Good morning Ramesh, a very nice gift you received. So welcome back home. Hope you will find some time in India as well and continue blogging.
    Your post reminded me a wonderful gift I received from Chaitu (my wife). We came to know each other for 6 months before our marriage and exchanged a thousand emails during that period. For the marriage, she printed those thousand emails in chronological order, made a book and gave it to me. The sweetness and value of this gift increases day by day. We read that after two years when we were in a vacation in Vietnam, thoroughly enjoyed :-)

  4. Indeed, the story brought a lump to the throat. For a moment, did not want to go further into your post until it soaked in. I never read the story, so triple wow to you for sharing the link! It did look like a perfect gift for a lazy sunday. Triple wow again!

    Yes, very difficult to remember the gifts except for once or twice. In fact only few can offer the perfect gift.

    What a priceless gift you received from Tony and Corrine. Indeed special gift with more and more special thoughts. Just brings my consciousness to a halt! Great one Ramesh! God bless them!

  5. Lovely lovely gift,Ramesh! How thoughtful could that have been? But, beneath that I can also see how appreciative they are of a warm person as you- You truly are.

    PS: Wish I could have a copy of the book, if at all you are planning to publish....

  6. A real wonderful gift!
    So thoughtful of them.
    Welcome back!

  7. You have exactly this effect on people Ramesh..

  8. @Sandhya - Yes indeed. Everywhere, if somebody is really close, you would very much gift from the heart. Very true.

    @Preeti - Yes, I go back to Bangalore end July with mixed emotions and tonnes of experience. Priceless indeed.

    @Kotla - Lovely gift from your wife. Very special. Are you in Singapore these days ?

    @Vishal - Its a beautiful story indeed. One of O Henry's immortal contributions.

    @RS - Incredibly thoughtful indeed, isn't it. No I am not vain enough to publish anything, but this one, I shall keep as a treasure !

    @zeno - Thanks zeno. Back end July. We'll try and catch up in person maybe next month.

  9. Whoa, that is an incredibly well thought out gift! The couple clearly cherish your friendship.

    Magi is one of O'Henry's best. You've just given me a gift. I get to revisit an O'Henry classic that is long overdue. So glad you mentioned his work, I tend to feel so many of history's great authors are not getting enough exposure to the current generations.

  10. Anonymous4/7/10

    wow...thts a wonderful thoughtful of them...oh thala blore vareengala...before anyone claims..let me get a copy of that book...tht wud definitely be a bestseller soon :)


  11. Exkalibur6664/7/10

    Brilliant gift.. a big thank you to the couple from all of us readers of ur blog...
    do keep them coming..

  12. @AJCL - Awwww. No; that's not true ....

    @Hopfrog - Delighted to know another O henry lover. he's truly a great writer. And you're absolutely right ; history's great authors are fading away much too fast. In this days of instant everything, who has time for Tolstoy's War and Peace .....

    @Gils - Oh thanks. Yes Bengaluru coming. Have to catch up with you in person in Chennai one day. Devikalakku polama ??

    @Exkalibur - Aww. Thanks so much

  13. The chinese couple has given an amazing gift, which you'd remember everytime you visit your blog. Gifts should be like that. And, such gifts ideas are rare and fly fast. Glad to know that you are going back to India, it's sooner that you expected perhaps. I wish if we could get together some time.

  14. Not to mention that there was a badminton tournament conducted on Sunday and it was called - guess what "Ramesh Cup" . I was telling Ramesh that there will no CEO in this world who would have had a tournament named after him. Ramesh these folks will truly miss ya so will the ones like me who in one sense began my work life with you.

    God Bless and Have a gr8 time in India.

  15. waaaaaaah, "Ramesh Cup". Ramesh, you are truly amazing!!

    PS:Thank you, CV, for the info

  16. True! Its a priceless gift. I guess you would have experienced the feeling of a mother who carried a baby in her womb for nearly 2 years..Its incredible thought of tht couple.

    Returning back from a foreign country after spending couple of years always amazing feeling. Me, just feeling the warmth of the same ;-) God Bless!!

  17. Truly an amazing gift! Heartfelt greetings from me to you for recieving such a lovely present, for being the person who deserves such priceless presents and many more, for being the person who is remembered fondly by everyone who is touched by his association even once. God sends people like you for people like me to keep believing in goodness.

    Btw, are the comments included in the book too? Not that I would hold it against anyone if they aren't, but nothing like a 'backdoor entry' in a best- seller, incase it leaks out. :P

    Also, if its going to hit the stands, all the commentors of this blog demand a signed copy please.

  18. Very well deserved Ramesh. All the best for the move back to India.

  19. Sandhya Sriram5/7/10

    i second deepa

    signed copy of course....

    given the modest person you are, if you dont let it go on stand, it would be a gift of magi for all of us if we could get a signed copy of this :-)

    Wow for the Ramesh Cup!! i think the cup must be proud to be named after you. congrats to the cup :-)

  20. @KC - Yes lovely they are. You're away in the US of A - so only on line contact, until you come back :)

    @Sanjay - OMG ; did you have to write that. I am blushing deep red.

    @RS - Ignore CV ; he had too much to drink last night :)

    @LG - Yes, I know the feeling of returning back. Done that once before; so can relate to what you are feeling.

    @Deepa - Awwwww. Too kind... Me floored.

    @Dada - Thanks very much. And a good move to you too.

    @Sandhya - Hey thanks. Am certainly not vain enough to get carried away into imagining book signings :)

  21. Wow! this calls a celebration.
    Why dont giveaway a signed copy of this book.If you feel that is too much,then give us the photograph of book once you are out of net nanny control.
    Loved reading about ramesh cup,you are one modest person.

  22. That was a lovely present and your introduction via a wonderful story made it all the more poignant.

    And welcome to Bengaluru.

  23. RamMmm - Thanks. Hope to catch up with you in person sometime.

  24. @ambulisamma - Ah the day when I can escape the clutches of the net nanny .....

  25. The way you are churning out blogging gems, soon someone has to open a museum :-)

    Thanks for sharing such gems with all of us.

  26. Wow to the power infinity for Ramesh Cup! Would thank my stars for being associated with you through such a medium. Infact, a big thanks to my current boss for letting me know about this blog.

    You are a wonderful person Ramesh. Deepa is so true. I did not have many chance to interact with you but your sheer presence was enough for me to remember you forever. :-)

  27. Vishal6/7/10

    Wow to the power infinity for Ramesh Cup. I would thank my stars to be associated with you. Infact one big thanks to my current boss for letting me know about this blog.

    You are a wonderful person Ramesh!

    Deepa is so true. Your single thought leaves strong influence on people like us.

    Indeed "God sends people like you for people like me to keep believing in goodness"

  28. @Adesh - So kind. Thanks

    @Vishal - Totally bowled and humbled.

  29. Definitely, we shall meet sometime once you are settled back here. :-)

  30. Trevor in OZ9/7/10

    Ramesh, what a great gift and somewhat typical of Tony (he's a great bloke). Shows the appreciation he and many of us have of you sharing you thoughts via your blog. on ya mate !

  31. @Trevor - Oh yes - Tony is a real great bloke. Thanks for the kind words.

  32. Oh my.....I'm all misty-eyed here!!! Ramesh ur friends sound wonderful to me:-)

    U r leaving China....ooooh noooo. Now how am I going to keep myself upated abt China. U were my only connection to the place;-(

  33. @Reflections - Yes they are really wonderful. Forget China - the centre of the world, where the money is all there is where you live !! Great to see your tag post in the midst of your break - hope you are doing fine.

  34. Hi Ramesh

    At the first instance "WHAT A GIFT!!!". When i read this post, i was deeply moved.. Why not you!!.

    If i was a publisher, i would have published this book., not for money but for two good reasons

    1. It would be a good reading material for any person. Wealth of experience . or in plain Hindi.. Knowledge ka Bandaar hai. You have the given the juice.. People who aspire to become CEO of an Organization will get to know " What's the thought process of a CEO". and second is gaining command over the language / vocabulary. You won't believe. Of late i have started to make a note of some complex words, phrases, idioms etc which i find in your posts. I will publish that one day or other.

  35. @Rajan - Awwww - You are far too kind. Coming from an English maestro, this is high praise.

  36. Wow - such a priceless gift! I was hoping to do that for myself few years down the line :P!

    That story from O Henry is a pure gem!

  37. Hi Ramesh,

    I feel so great when someone reads my blogpost and leaves a comment. I can truly relate to the feeling of getting our own blog in the form of a book. You got a priceless gift indeed and you have made some priceless friendships too.

  38. @Shachi - You absolutely have to do it. Present to R on her 18th birthday !!

    @Its Dee for U - Thanks for visiting and your comment. Very true what you say about comments. It was a priceless gift for me.


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