Vantage point

Monday, February 17, 2003

A wise man once said,

"The past is in the past, and the future is yet to come, so worry only about the present."

This dude knew what he was talking about. I am not a person who worries a lot, and I generally live life as it comes. But the one thing I worry about is "present". Nope, not the times that we live in, but actually the present that you buy for a girl.

It is probably one of the most repeated lines in history, but it bears repetition - Girls are hard to shop for.

There are two sides to it. One is that girls are soooooo unpredictable when it comes to their choosiness. What is a good present today might be something very passe a month later. Girls change their tastes faster than Nepal changes its Prime Ministers. So if a guy has to be sure of his present being a "great" one, he needs to keep abreast of the latest developments in women's fashion, or trends or whatever.

I still remember the first time I bought a gift for a girl on my own. I had just finished high school, and there was this girl I sort of liked. It was her birthday, and I was wondering what to buy her. I spent a lot of time with my friend Aniruddha ( who despite what he might say, is as clueless about this matter as I am) in one of the gift shops at Deccan Gymkhana in Pune and finally chose a perfume bottle. I know, I know. Even at the age of 80, guys have no idea which perfume would be liked by women, and here I was, all of 16, buying a perfume for a girl. I gave it to her very nervously. Now it was not like one of those exquisite little glass bottles with a cute suction arrangement that you pull with a silk thread. She opened it, and I must say that if I expected her face to light up with joy and gratitude, I was disappointed. She gave me a polite smile and said "Thank you!". Later a mutual friend of mine told me that she was very amused that I had given her a big bottle of "hanky perfume" as a birthday gift and that maybe it was my way of making fun of the fact that she always had cold. Now I had never noticed the fact that it was a "hanky perfume", but then oh well..... No wonder I could not even get to the ballpark, forget the first base, with that girl. =-)

Some say that it is very difficult shopping for a girlfriend or a wife. Maybe, it is. But it is a lot harder shopping for a girl who is not your girlfriend or wife, or anyone else you might be romantically involved with. Because there you have the additional factor of "What if she construes this as a romantic overture??". So you have to be careful. Unless it is some female friend whom you are really very chummy and close to and who can not misconstrue your actions (like Walls, Mitu and Gauri are for me), red roses are NOT a good idea for a gift. Go for other flowers, and preferably other colours too. Chocolates are considered a safe bet, but there is always one friend you have who will twist her nose and say "I don't like chocolates!!".

If flowers and chocolates are out of the picture, a guy is pretty much stumped about what to buy. If the girl likes to read, a good book is something that makes a great gift, and I must say, I have a neat choice in books to give as presents. But books are the last straw you can clutch at.

If a girl does not like books, god help the guy in question. To use a term made popular by Navjyot Sidhu, the guy will be as confused as a baby in a topless bar.

Buying presents for girls is a very difficult proposition indeed. Thank goodness not all girls are the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.