Nut Cases

The other practice I started was to get her gifts whenever I went outside the city – something completely out of character for me.

Every time I wander into a consumer product shop, the first question that shoots up in my mind is “What exactly am I doing here?”. I’m simply not cut out for buying stuff – in this age of ultra-consumerism, I must look like a Neanderthal.

While I did try buying conventional gifts for amma in the beginning, I soon gave up. It was impossible to know whether she would ever like or use what I bought.

So, rather than trying to buy gifts that I was not sure she would value, I started with things she liked and looked for anything gifty that would be aligned with them.

One “gift” I gave her were the mementos and bags given to me at the cleantech and sustainability conferences I spoke. These mementos made her immensely proud, and she took them around and showed to our relatives next door. And boy, she loved bags, though I never figured out how she used most of them.

The gifts many times were the small, nice-looking tin boxes supplied by many Indian airlines, in which they packed cashew nuts. Sometimes, in addition to the box of cashews I bought, I would ask the air hostess to give me any empty nut cases that were returned by passengers. Some of the air hostesses’ looks suggested that they considered me a nutcase too.

Amma liked these nut cases a lot. In fact, I’m positive that these made her more happy than any expensive jewels I could have bought for her.

Fig 27. The nut case provided by a prominent Indian airline

The other “gift” I “gave” her were the 5-rupee and 10-rupee coins. She just loved collecting these – so much that I would many times catch her rummaging through my purse for these at night! Whenever I received one of these coins anywhere, I would safekeep them to be  delivered to amma at the end of day.

Fig 28: Amma’s coin collection. She just loved 5 and 10 rupee coins and regularly put them in a boxes such as these

When I think back, I realize how little were the extra efforts I had put in to get these gifts.

What had changed was not the efforts, but the mindset. And in my mind, amma had set herself right in front.

An agnostic almost gets religion <= Nut cases => Designing good times


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