How to get the right imperfect gift

Cartoon: Ehsanur Raza Ronny

Unwillingly starring: The wife

There are two widely believed approaches to buying gifts. In an ideal world, you get what the other person loves, wants or is willing to die for. Considering the latter, you will not have to worry about subsequent gifts. But this is not an ideal world as we have The Kardashians and their Morning Fight over Toothpaste Flavours. 

The other method, and my personal favourite, is buying stuff the giver likes and can use. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the easy way. Far from it. This requires meticulous research and stalking. Worse, it involves figuring the dubious logical connection between what you want and how to make the other person want it too. 

My wife likes cars, I love cars. She tolerates a lot of car talk. But once, I gave her the perfect anniversary gift by buying a set of five-spoke rims that she definitely, most likely wanted. It wasn't as easy as it sounds. I had to wait for months for her to say the right thing. Hours of baiting involved pointing out wheels on cars and asking her opinion. Sometimes, she would respond like another petrol-infected soul, telling me what colour and what amount of offset (or dish) would look good. But mostly, she would nod politely. Fortuitously, one fine day, she pointed out a five-spoke style stating it was 'pretty cool'. I bought it and left it in our living room for her to find as I headed back to work. It was a risky move as the living room also hid another set of six-spoke aluminium rims I used to own and needed to sell off. But the new ones—this is what she wanted, right? Some girls want diamond rings for anniversaries. She got a set of 'alloy rings' (what we call rims in Bangladesh). In my petrol-infected brain, it seemed perfect. 

And that is how you get for someone what they like. Chocolates work this way. Find out what the other person likes and buy enough so you can eat a whole lot of it. I once bought a girl a box of assorted chocolates. But then I wasn't sure if the chocolates were still good and required a taste test. By the sixth or seventh piece in the assorted box, I was convinced they would not cause mutations. All because our weather is bad and it causes everything to spoil faster than normal. Look at our engineers tasked with designing functioning flyovers. I blame the sun. 

Now if you want to buy what THEY like, follow the following. 

Ask friends and family

Your best friend's birthday? Ask the family members what they might like. Do they want a new pair of Bluetooth headphones? Could you also borrow it? In my wife's case, I had to ask her other friends if she mentioned anything about cars. Unfortunately, most of her friends think the best car in the world is black, made after 2000, and is called a BMW or that Other Car. 

Give something handmade

Right, do you have the time to do that? Can you bake? Nothing beats a massive brownie cake. And you can share. In my wife's case, I suggested I paint the car for her. I wanted red, she wanted blue. So we compromised and I did what she wanted. I painted the car myself, for her. And she threatened that next time I want to spend so long in the garage, she will throw me and the car outside. Now that's love. 

Gift an experience

Do they like dogs and cats and fish? Do you? A pet is a terrible/amazing experience. Or take them out to do what they like. Do they like to travel? Take them on a day-long weekend holiday outside the city. My wife loves trips. To give her that experience, I have started trawling the car ads for a different, longer, bigger, cooler car. How else is she going to enjoy the experience? 

When all else fails, buy a cake. Or three. 

Ehsanur Raza Ronny is a confused dad, all-round car guy, model car builder, and cartoonist. He is also Editor of Shift (automobiles), Bytes (technology), and Next Step (career) of The Daily Star.

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