Story of an unused gift

Sometime in the Pre Historic Era before the birth of Gift Cards) Elizabeth had a pleasing personality and was a very comforting presence as the only Indian in midst of around 20 Arabs, all attired in Dishdashas and Abayas (the traditional attire of Arab men and women respectively). I was to work with this group for a fortnight, providing them training in Microsoft office. Well, all of them were indeed very friendly and cooperative, but Elizabeth took it upon herself to make me comfortable in the very alien environment and also acted as an interpreter when the Indian English made no sense to the Arab junta and vice versa. When it was time for good byes, the gracious lady once again charmed me with her thoughtfulness –she pushed a little pink packet into my hands. Gifts are always exciting, doubly so when they come from the most unexpected quarters. I couldn’t wait to open it and when I did, it was a shirt –a happy-blue one with long sleeves. It was lovely!!I was already mentally teaming it up with my denims and flowing white skirt. I couldn’t wait to try it on. And I could definitely not wait till the next day. So what if dinner was rice, sambar and cabbage? I decided I could still dress up for dinner. A “qwik” shower and I get into my happy blue shirt …..well, hmmmm … my lovely blue shirt turns out to be a disaster ..I fill it out a little too much. But I don’t lose my heart. It’s just a few inches and a couple of kilos to shed. My happy Blue shirt would surely motivate me. I was already preparing a diet plan and a workout schedule. I just couldn’t give away Elizabeth’s gift without even wearing it once. And so in the last many years, the Happy blue shirt has travelled with me from Kuwait to Hyderabad to Bangalore. She still hangs there in my cupboard, hoping that some day, some day she will be chosen over her neighbors in the cupboard. Her only solace is that she now has the company of a pink kurta that had a disastrous alteration and a lime green jacket that dusky beauties should keep a safe distance from!! They seem to be in there for a very long wait… In spite of not being a hoarder by nature, there are a few such sartorial nightmares that I do hoard for various reasons-if some are gifted by special people, then some are too expensive to be given away. So you carry the baggage for years and years waiting for the kilos to shed, for the skin to lighten, for your niece to grow up, for your daughter to be born…… I have always wondered if this was the psycho-sentimental me at play. Why be bundled with ill fitting clothes? Why not gift the power to choose. If Elizabeth had a choice, am sure she would have delightfully gifted me a GIFT CARD. And the Happy Blue Shirt would have been MY TRULY HAPPY BLUE SHIRT. – Uma Menon

Image Copyright: Gurmit Singh


Last Minute Gifting

Imagine in today’s high pressure, time starved environment, one is in a hurry to buy a gift for someone’s wedding, anniversary or birthday and one is running late wracking one’s brains hunting for the right gift to buy. Walking into the nearest grocery store, book store, mobile store or drug store one finds an array of gift cards from various top brands – clothing, footwear, accessories, jewellery, watches, sunglasses etc! Amazing! The sheer convenience of being able to pick up a gift card for any occasion, for any value from practically anywhere at all is an un-precedented convenience from a consumers point of view! The availability of a wide choice of gift cards via the internet is another superb convenience – let your fingers do the walking, pay at your convenience and have the gift of choice delivered to your door-step! Couldn’t be a better way to find the right gift! – Sadiq Ahamed


Ah! The Gifted weekend Payback time !

I remember the days where occasions were few and gifts were limited but the happiness that came with it was tremendous. We would wait for the occasion, await the arrival of uncles especially the ones well placed as in terms of money so the gifts would be big The sheer size of the box was a reflected on the face …a smile from end to end to no end at all . That was 1982. Time’s changed quickly and today its 2011. Festivals remained true to their origin, ideas changed of gifting but the Indianism approach to gifting did not change. It merely refined from the beady eyes of 1982 into looking at the guests and then slowly at the hands, are those hands flowing with the wind or are they holding onto a something. This reminds me of the good old punch line we used to use during college days where invitations boldly read “presence with presents only “ Now 2010 October: This year has seen all of us survive the tides of recession and wanting to unwind on the weekends after the great struggle of not the hard work but the effort in holding onto our jobs and keeping the moolah flowing into the coffers of the ambitious bosses , so now it’s time to unfold what happened that wonderful sunset evening…. It was my son’s birthday and the regular gifts rolled in as usual….and the fun went on until late midnight. For the adults the spirits were boosted with rich wines and wonderful delicacies and for a party lover and a food lover like me there is no limit to any of these ingredients. Just before sunrise like vampires the last drop of spirit was set free from the crystal container into its new journey to flesh and blood. The morning after………. Son: Papa wake up I got this card. Me: Keep it there someone will come for it …(remember its now 6:00 am) Son: No it says I am gifted with Rupees 500.00 The first thought was the morning prayer – “Thank God for his small mercies” but this was in plastic. There began a new era at home of being gifted, and not to forget ……..gifting. The shopping experience was funny, the choices many and the outlets few. Finally with a lot of convincing that the card cannot add cash onto itself for a bigger gift gained personification as it was the last week of the month and there were no more shops left . All done and it’s time to gift all of you an anatomy of what this gift card business is about. It takes one plastic piece and an impish grin to tell your giftee “yes! I am still in control and you have to buy something from this shop only and you are worth only that denomination on this card”. Quite a wicked way of gifting and a wonderful way of saying goodbye to your weekend. Folks, the gift card ride is here, take it or go shopping and get to hear “what a cheap lamp she gave me and ate so much!” Jai hind! – Sadiq Ahamed


Digital Gift Cards

Republished here on: 27 December 2011

Link to the original article in Times of India here

The festive season in December has a unique charm. It’s not only Christmas but also the turn of a new year. Like all such joyful occasions, it’s a season of giving; an opportunity to renew and reinforce bonds, of family, friendship or togetherness. It’s also the time to surprise our loved ones with gifts. But not all of us have the luxury of time and convenience to wind through choked traffic, and trawl crowded markets and malls in search of the perfect present. Cyberspace is a good alternative enabling us to sit in the comforts of your home, and sift through products, review prices and specifications. Gifting online is hassle free. Go to one of the websites, like Woohoo and pick up the favourite card of the desired denomination, enter the shipping address and pay. Websites allow sorting gifts by category, occasion or price. The gift card can also be electronically sent by email. The recipient can redeem the card at the outlet physically or shop online and get the gift couriered. Buyers can customize and add personal messages. These cards have validity period of 3 to 12 months giving recipients liberty to wait to get their gift of choice. May be nothing like personally visiting a friend to give a gift, but given the fact that not all our loved ones are nearby, digital gift cards are fast becoming popular. Online malls have been proliferating as shoppers feel there is more variety in terms of categories, products and prices online. Some of them are: Indiatimes, Ebay, Naaptol, Myntra, Futurebazaar, Tradus, Homeshop18, Indiaplaza; the list goes on. There are also category-specific malls like Flipkart for books or Seventymm for movies. When our loved ones are far away, often our plans to present them a gift remains just an idea, given the hard logistics involved in picking up a gift, getting it packed, and couriered. Digital gift cards, which are popular abroad, are now fast catching on here. One, it gives you the advantages of online shopping; two, it’s easy and quick; and three, it gives the recipient the choice to get himself or herself something that he or she really loves.



The power of choice

It’s my best friend’s son’s birthday .The good part is that I remembered and the bad part is that I am meeting them in five minutes. Absolutely no time to buy a gift ofcourse. I rummage my son’s cupboard for any unopened gifts, but he is now smart enough remove the packaging as soon as he gets a gift. As I am about to give up the search, disappointed at having lost an opportunity to brighten up the 7 year olds special day a little more, I remember that we do have a couple of Landmark gift cards at home. Just as I dig out one, the bell rings announcing their arrival and I sure am mighty pleased with myself. I open the door, wish him and give him the card with a “you can buy whatever you like”. The card is very colorful and I expect him to be mighty pleased (How foolish can I be!!!), but am a little disappointed to see that he is not particularly pleased or excited. The card is soon forgotten as my friend and I get busy with our gupshup leaving the kids to entertain themselves. A few weeks pass before I ask my friend if they had used the card. And then the story unfolds… Sourish (that’s our protagonists name) kept the card on his desk for almost a week, before popping the first card related query to his mother. Simple and basic. Sourish: “What is this?” Mother:”It’s a gift card” Sourish:” What should I do with this?” Mother:”You can choose a gift for yourself from Landmark” Silence …. A week later… Sourish:”Amma, can I buy anything I want with my card?” Mother:”Yes, anything for Rs. 500” Sourish:”Even a toy and a book?” Mother:”Yes, whatever you wish” Sourish:”That means you can’t stop me from buying something because it’s my card?” Now it’s the mother turn to be silent. A week later … Sourish:”From where can I buy my gift?” Mother:”From any Landmark” Sourish:”even Jubilee hills landmark?” Mother:”yes” Sourish:”I can even buy from Chennai when we go for summer holidays?” Mother:”yes” Silence… A week later Sourish:”Lets go and buy my gift” After spending a couple of hours at Somajiguda Landmark and working out various permutations and combinations with toys, gifts and crayons (ofcourse mother had to help with the arithmetic), Sourish decides he would want to check out the jubilee hills Landmark too before buying. A week later, @Landmark-Jubilee hills Sourish:”Amma, I think the other Landmark was better” This is not the end of the story. For all you know Sourish has visited the Chennai store too and still hasn’t found the best deal…but as my friend(exasperated ,as can be expected☺) shared this story to me ,I was so glad that I had given him one of the best gifts –the gift of the choice. He probably didn’t want to redeem the card because he cherished the power of choice that it gave him over anything else that it could buy him. Deep inside, that’s what all of us want- the power to choose. – Uma Menon


The smart new way of gifting takes off in India

Republished here on: 29 November 2011

Link to original article in Indian Express here

Responding to a consumer survey on gifting, a young professional in Gurgaon said: “I’ve always loved buying gifts for others, be it my father, mother, brother, colleagues or friends. But I always found it strange that they never used or seemed to enjoy my gifts! Earlier, I blamed it on their weird taste, but when my boyfriend started doing the same, I couldn’t con myself any more. Now, I play safe and get everyone gift cards instead. So they can choose whatever product they want to buy and I get to see them enjoy it. That’s happiness for both parties.” The young lady is not alone in her happiness. Owing to the new gifting trend that has emerged across the country, gift cards from leading brands are now sold from stores and portals in more than 150 towns and cities and can be redeemed across more than 2,000 premium brand stores. It’s not just different tastes that drive the demand for gift cards. It’s also a question of saving time. Not planning gift purchases in time problem across the world, and India is no different. Gifting is a last-day activity, with more than 70 per cent Indians doing their gift shopping on the last day. With gift cards, there’s help at hand. Gift card usage happens on multiple occasions and for multiple reasons. It could be for gifting to one’s near and dear ones, a way of showing appreciation to team members, a convenient way of managing large corporate staff programmes or simply a way to give children the freedom to buy what they want (without the parents going mad with the choosing process). The late CK Prahlad used to say India could be thought of as a kaleidoscope. With each small twist, India shows up differently. If we focus on one face or angle, we miss a thousand others. With the introduction of gift cards, the big picture is never lost. In India, brands across consumption categories have launched gift card programmes. These include players like Trent-Landmark, Titan, Peter England, Fastrack, Van Heusen, Puma, Raymond, Flipkart, PVR Cinemas, TTK Prestige and Hidesign. And consumers across age groups are biting the bullet. Gift cards have become a preferred option with both brands and consumers for the following reasons: 1. They are convenient to use; 2. They are secure across the desired set of brand outlets; 3. They offer versatile program flexibility; 4. They are attractive in design and offer good badge value in the wallet; and 5. They enhance the association of the brand with gifting. Market research shows that 88 per cent of Indian retail consumers are aware of the concept of gift cards. When questioned, 78 per cent evinced interest in buying such cards—thus making it that much easier for brands to promote their gift card programs to consumers.




Bring on that smile with Gift Cards

Tired of Last minute dash to the nearest toy store or a gift store, wondering what to pick, guessing if your gift would be liked by the kid whom you don’t know, and frustrated in being forced to pick something useful, from the limited choices in the market, due to budget or time constraint…and so goes the list….. Many a times I’ve wondered why we go through it, when heart of hearts we won’t be surprised if all our efforts will just land up being recycled….But we still do it, honestly, I think its to save our face and keep up with the social stigma, nevertheless, in some cases we genuinely care to do so…. and Am sure I am not alone in this ordeal…. Why do we have to feel drained when we ought to be having fun??? That’s the very reason, I turned to gifting giftcards…Nowadays! am not worried in seeing an invite..I love getting one and am ready to have fun!! Also! Won’t you agree when I say- It’s easy to buy gift for a girl as compared to a guy?? Most girls get excited on a simple gift as trivial as a chocolate when its wrapped with an element of surprise!!!!(Well !!! That’s the way they’re made! ) Yet! most guys never get that !! I hear often stories of men over enthusiastically buying a surprise gift for their loved ones but landup surprising themselves at their drastically wrong choice of color or size 😉 For such ’Men from Mars’ giftcards is a savior! They are sure to score brownie points ;-)) Not to forget! It was a rude shock to me that even after 14 yrs people still gift anything under the roof for any occasion without giving a slightest thot!!From Shield with God pics at babyshowers to a fancy car for a 4 yr old girl’s b’day!!! It’s so ridiculous! A giftcard with half the value would have brought a bigger smile to the giftee’s!! There are many such reasons for the need of a giftcard!! I feel the awareness to giftcards should be spread in our society!! I accept it lacks the personal touch at the outset but I feel it’s the best option for both the parties and it truly brings out the very purpose of gifting!!!! Having said that, ‘There are times when you got to shop but for everything else get a Giftcard!!!’ –  Sadiq Ahamed


Gift Cards for Happy Birthdays!

Written by a Happy Mom of a 5-year old) Celebrating a kid’s Birthday is no mean task. A lot of thought goes into deciding the party theme, decoration, menu and party games. This year, i chose colorful papers with my son Aryaman’s picture as invitation card. The Birthday theme was cartoons. The kids were asked to dress up like their favorite cartoon character and a surprise gift awaited the best dressed kid. My 5 year old bundle of joy was brimming with happiness seeing balloons, streamers, cartoon cutouts hung all around. The kid’s game was rather simple and exciting – bursting balloons! The kids went rather wild with joy on getting the surprise gift of candies and chocolates. Finally, time to cut the cake and burst crackers. It looked like another Diwali celebration. Then everybody binged on the special delicacies prepared for the occasion. It was followed by a little dance act with the parents also pushed into it by the kids. And finally after all the kids got tired dancing to the tunes of ‘ALL IZZ WELL’, ‘Gol, Gol, Gol Golmaal’, “Shiela ki Japani” as one of the younger one calls and the clock also clicking 1:00am, it was time to bid adieu. As soon as all the guests left, we intended to go to sleep but Aryaman just could not hold on to his anxiety of opening gifts. So one gift pack after another, he opened them and was elated at receiving toys. He was dumping the clothes gift packs – they don’t excite most kids anyway. And we received a very different gift this time- ‘a PVR gift card ’. The following weekend we decided to use the PVR gift card. Luckily, a kid’s movie Reo was being shown. I was a little anxious that like our previous experience of “Rang De Basanti” we might have to leave the movie mid-way again this time. But I can’t help smiling at what actually happened. My kid not only sat through the entire movie but was also bursting into laughter every now and then. He enjoyed the popcorn though cold drinks are a still no-no with him. All in all, more than the movie I enjoyed watching my kid’s expressions throughout the movie. Later, we played games at the games corner in Forum and had a quick bite at the Transit. Must say, it was a weekend delight and this time no preparation required from my end. So I could just sit back and enjoy. And yeah, through this gift card, many more avenues of watching movies together have opened up. All thanks to ‘The PVR gift card’ and to my friend Pooja for thinking of a different gifting idea. Now gift cards are also my favorite gifting option and I select the type of gift card depending upon the age of the receiver and the occasion of gifting. – Megha Misra


Confessions of a Lazy Gifter!

I don’t like gifting. It’s too much of an effort. I want to give a gift but I dread the experience and outcomes of picking a gift for someone. I feel like a mouse in maze when I wander around the isles of departmental stores, thinking what can be a good gift for my friend. I feel like a over-sized kid when I am in a toy store because my natural tendencies clash with my common sense on what would be a good gift for my kid nephew. I unconditionally submit to my wife on any occasion of gifting. I let my puppy face and credit card do the damage control. However, I am coming across some innovative and cool gifting concepts off late with things like Gift Cards. Besides giving a lazy gifter like me a rather smart looking way of gifting, the packaging options and giftee-friendly features pack a nice punch. If I am a lazy gifter, there are lazy-giftees too to whom the online gift cards give the necessary cardio-workout with all the clicking of mouse while shopping online. Overall, Gift Cards are making me look good and helping me in gifting when I need it the most. – Sadiq Ahamed


Gift Cards are a Game Changer

( Written by a Senior Corporate Executive) Gift cards are the single biggest game changer for gifting in my life. I buy them all the time for friends and family. It is unbelievably convenient as an option on account of its easy availability and the way it opens up choice for the recipient. What fun it is to be given a card carrying a certain value, which one can go to the shops with and buy whatever one likes! Books, Music, Toys, Games, DVDs, Clothes, Jeans, Footwear, home improvement stuff, gadgets, kitchen stuff and so on. I use gift cards for all sorts of occasions including weddings, engagements, birthdays, anniversaries and just regular “feel good” gifting occasions too! It’s also great to have the option to load the gift cards according to the budget one has for any particular occasion and intended recipient! Believe me, it’s a lot of fun to see the myriad options available on packaging – nice innovative, attractive, colorful, sometimes even quirky packs depending on whom you want to gift to as well as the occasion! And the best thing is that one doesn’t even have to leave one’s comfy armchair to buy – simply let your fingers do the walking (via the internet) and buy gift cards for any occasion that is important to you! Can’t be a better way of having fun while gifting! – Shankar Balan