Thursday, August 23, 2012

After Raksha Bandhan - Spending Holidays Across International Borders

As you can imagine, any holiday where people are separated and living in different countries means things are going to take a log longer than normal.

When gifts are involved that means someone has to order things well in advance if they want them to get to their destination on time. When I purchased the card and bracelet for my BIL I mailed it almost 2 weeks before Raksha Bandhan. It just got there last week. So it took almost 4 weeks for it to get to him. My guess is it went through customs even though the USPS worker assured me it didn't need a customs form.

Well, I don't understand it at all but BIL got excited about it. It's just a simple rubber bracelet in a funny card that I thought was cute. And this is something I really don't understand about Indians in general but I love it. BIL saw this little card as a big deal. It really impressed him somehow and he started asking what I wanted for a gift.

Now, I have no idea what to ask for. I don't understand typical Indian gift giving customs and hubby just tells me ask for whatever I want. So I got a wish list going on Amazon and evaluated what I wanted and what might be appropriate, etc. Then I let hubby see it and he laughed at some of my choices and then said I should pick out just one thing. We narrowed it down to a nice set of pots and pans.
Hubby told his mom and explained why I wanted them and his mom giggled and told me to pick out something else and send BIL both links in case he wanted to buy me something more fun. So I picked out a new camera lol. It was a joke I swear! I really wanted the pots and pans. I love cooking and to me those were a good gift.

Hubby forwarded the link to BIL and BIL called MIL to ask about the pots and pans. Apparently it was such a funny conversation to them and after learning why I wanted them he decided he was going to buy both the pots and pans and the camera! OMG. I was flabbergasted. The two items together cost over $800 US!

I don't understand it. One tiny $7 card with a rubber bracelet is all I bought. Something cute and funny to show him I remembered him on an important holiday. I think this concept is one of the hardest for me to grasp about Indian culture.

In my family no one does this kind of stuff. I'm one of the rare few that continues to send out Christmas cards to everyone each year and always remembers birthdays, etc. I just think it's important to send out those little reminders. People need to be reminded that these days matter but I hardly think those small gestures are worth a large gift. Of course, I'm not going to argue with BIL. It wouldn't do me any good because he's more stubborn than I am. So I guess I will just continue to be amazed by these gestures.

I'm not sure I'll ever understand them but I do truly value being part of a family that seems so giving. It makes it so much easier for me to be the giving person I've always been. There is a lot of satisfaction in knowing that the little things you do actually matter to someone.

Of course,  because of mail time this all took 3 weeks after Raksha Bandhan and 2 weeks before for a total of 5 weeks for the completion of one holiday. Lol. I think I have to get better about my planning so things aren't late next time. Diwali is right around the corner. I want my gift to be there on time.


  1. wow what a generous BIL O.O!

    In Japan we give an equivalent of the gift we received, i.e if I give a box of chocolates from Belgium the person in return will give me a box of candy from somewhere else.
    Usually for souvenirs Japanese give candy or little bracelets.. My friend from Finland gave me a Shisa which was in stone (its expensive) and all my friends and I were shocked because thats too much for a souvenir.. I'm still not sure what I'm going to get her for her birthday.

    I don't really expect gifts from anybody but I tend to give birthday cards and gifts when I remember their birthdays.

  2. Yes! I've never been spoiled so much in my life. I really did get lucky with marrying into such a good family. I love the gift-giving customs in Japan you mentioned. I think that's appropriate, candy for candy. Even though I love these gifts, it's really hard to feel worth it. Kinda like you felt like the Shisha was too much.