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Short Take: Unwrapping the ungrateful
March 02, 2013
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Unwrapping the ungrateful

To buy gifts for relatives and friends when returning from a vacation is an age-old tradition which continues till date. It is a matter of shame if one returns empty-handed in our culture. One needs to select a gift that suits each individual’s taste and preference and this is regardless of the budget, the destination and the fact whether or not we have shopped for ourselves as yet.

These return gifts are not only a strain on the pocket, but also an unnecessary headache that can easily be avoided by simply dropping the idea of going on shopping for others.

But then our conscience does not spare us until we fill our suitcases with perfumes, handbags, watches, souvenirs and much more, all this to be given away to people who barely appreciate any of our efforts or the love behind these items.

Even if we gift the best to our relatives and friends, it hardly makes any difference to them nor does it bring a smile on their faces.

This is because they are always under the impression that either the gifts are cheap or of inferior quality, or the other person would have gotten a better gift than them.

Sadly, competition is everywhere, even in regard to gifts. People have always remained more concerned whether their gift is better than the one given to the other member of the family and vice-versa.

Sometimes, these feelings of envy can also lead to major conflicts in the household.

In order to avoid such clashes, in case one opts to buy the same gift for everyone, the general perspective will still be negative such as that we must have enjoyed huge discounts on buying bulk quantities or bad enough that these items were on sale or on buy-one-get-one-free promotion.

The bottom line remains that no matter how much we spend for the sake of others or the efforts we make in shopping and then carrying those gifts safely to them, some people are just born ungrateful and there is nothing that can be done to change them.

The only lesson I have learnt from my personal experiences is that we should only do shopping for ourselves and not for the entire family back home since they will have the same reaction towards us whether we offer gifts to them or not. I have vowed to stick to the latter in the days to come because some people are simply ungrateful and unappreciative.
Fatima Suhail

Running away

Every other day we are celebrating a specific day. An unending celebration starts from Jan.1 as the New Year and then Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Children’s Day, Aids Day, Pet’s Day, No Smoking Day, Valentine’s Day and Chocolate Day... it goes on and on.

Have you ever thought what  the significance of one of those dates that fall exactly after nine months is?

No? No problem. I’ll tell you the secret. Everybody knows that Valentine’s Day comes on Feb.14 and it was recently observed almost all over the world. On the same day, my friend emailed me an interesting cartoon.

The cartoon is horizontally divided into two portions. The upper half shows a handsome man running after a pretty girl holding a bouquet and a line says: “On Valentine’s Day, he is running after his love.”

In the second part, it depicts the same girl with a baby-bump running after the same man who is trying to escape the scene. The catchy line mentions: “It’s World Children’s Day and she is running after her love.” Exactly after nine months, that is Nov.14.
Mohammad Usman Butt

Strength of confidence

If a person has confidence that he can accomplish a task, he will do it. But if a person has talent without confidence, then even his talent is of no use. I have seen many examples of this.

Like, during the class tests I have heard many of my classmates saying, “O God! I have learnt everything, but I don’t know whether I will write the answers correctly. I am so scared.” And sometime, they really make mistakes.

Similarly, I have heard of one of my uncles who was never confident while going for interviews. Everytime he would say, “Oh! I don’t think I will get the job as many brilliant people will be there.”

I recently watched the movie, Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year. It was about an ordinary man who became the head of a famous company as he was confident of becoming one.

Recently, our Hindi teacher also told us that if we have confidence in ourselves, we can achieve our goals in life.

She narrated us her story. She said that she used to get scared when she had to give her exams. When her final exams for Grade 12 were approaching, she was worried. But she recovered her confidence and started preparing for the exam. She was surprised when the result was declared. She had passed with flying colours.

This story inspired us all. We all had many thoughts in our mind. We discussed with each other after listening to the story. One of my classmates said that as the exams are approaching, we will also prepare for it and will give our final exam with full confidence.

I read an interesting quote by Alfred Tennyson. “Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control: These three alone lead life to sovereign power.”
Saamia Mujeeb (Student, Indian High School, Dubai)

Free splash

I often go for seaside walks, in the tranquil areas of the Deira corniche. Observing landwards, towards the far end of the port, are the slow blinking lights warning the tip of the creek (underneath lies the tunnel that connects Deira with Bur Dubai.)

The huge tides foaming with glistening white spray are a joy to behold. The mighty waves crash on to the rocks submerging a few of them and in the process sometimes escalating over the parapet wall.

The sprinkling droplets are a welcome rain — a real relief in the dusty heat — I long to get soaked in the free splash. The light blowing wind and the sound of the gurgling water fills my heart with immense joy.

The challenging waves add momentum to life, nature showing its powerful strength easing the mind with an uncanny calm.

The hovering seagulls yell out a shrill cry, adding music to the air. Sometimes the seagulls try to settle on water, flapping their wings, lowering their beaks in water, and as expert marksmen, draw out their prize — a dizzy fish gasping for breath.

As the evening fades, the deep azure seawater appears dark and murky. The golden sun bows down and appears to go underneath. The twilight zone weaves an aura of stillness.

I am oblivious to the passing wary crowd.  The stress and the strain of the day have been sucked out by the magical seaside walk. Instead of being tired, I am now energised heaving a sigh of relief: looking forward for my tomorrow’s walk!
Suresh Thadhani

Virtual connections

Even though festivals and celebrations help families to come together and strengthen their relations, these days it is felt that the concept of a lasting bond is missing in this virtual world.

The fact is that Internet and electronic communication have prompted phenomenal changes to our traditional way of interacting with friends and relatives.  Today’s generation is closely attached to the computer and mobile handsets to convey their feelings.  Meeting “online” is no fashion these days, but a necessity, especially among the youngsters. 

Today, the use of pen and paper has no relevance. The post boxes are found almost empty, as handwritten personal letters have given way to electronic communication.

Handwritten letters are like a mirror, through which feelings and emotions are exchanged. They are pleasing to the eye.  Each letter has an unseen command to “speak” the author’s mind well, as each character has the power to carry the emotions and sentiments. They almost reflect a person’s psychological presence, and the ups and downs of life portrayed in the letters always carry a nostalgic feel.

Calling up friends and relatives and wishing each other makes an occasion more pleasing and colourful; and to some extent it helps rewinding the memories of the past.  Eventually, the celebrations are intended to uphold family togetherness in an organised way, though it all happens virtually these days.
Ramachandran Nair Oman

Special gift

She was stunned and stood in disbelief for a while. In fact, she was unexpectedly called to the drawing room when she was about to slide into her bed for a good sleep.

The room was decorated with colourful balloons and swinging frills. To her great surprise, a large cake was placed on the centre table along with glowing candles around it. Before she could speak her mind the clock on the wall struck 12:00. The room was filled with a rhythmic chorus: “Happy birthday to you,  happy birthday dear... happy birthday to you.”

Everyone in the family — from happily married sons to their wives to their offspring - wished the head lady of the family.

The corners of her eyes were filled with tears of joy. She couldn’t believe that her birthday would be celebrated when she drifted into her late fifties.

She cut the cake holding the hands of her grandchildren. Her happiness was multiplied when she learnt that it was the brainchild of one of the newly-wed daughters-in-law.

Even though I wasn’t among them, I was delighted and felt as if I were very much around when I was told about the sweet celebration. You know who was the elderly birthday woman? None other than my loving mother.
Zafar Iqbal

Waking up to reality

I wish my name appeared in the list of those who went to bed early and woke up early. Working as a journalist for three decades, I have hardly had an opportunity to doze off before midnight.

The famous dictum of Benjamin Franklin “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” never applied to me.

Hence, I accepted commentator Carl Sandburg’s suggestion, “Early to bed and early to rise and you never meet any prominent people.”

Yes, as another saying goes, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man a milkman.” Even when I try to sleep early, I face hurdles.

I stayed at a friend’s place and decided to doze off before time: his son put on the TV in full volume. I stayed at a relative’s home and his ferocious pet dog pointed its teeth at me, making me restless throughout. At my home, I am always tempted to read or watch television before I hit the sack.

Waking up is still worse. When the alarm rings, I meticulously wake up, only to pile up pillows and doze off again in a sitting posture. Talking about sleep, my colleague asks a sensible question: “Why is it that the one who snores always goes to sleep first?”
R. Ramesh

Telling lies? no papa

Lying is unacceptable in society. No matter what the reason can be. It makes people weak and hollow. Once you resort to a lie, slowly it becomes your habit. It works like an addictive.

Let me tell you what really happened. Once, four college students decided to dodge their semester tests. On the day of their scheduled test, all of them made their clothes dirty with car grease and dirt. They went up to the dean and told him, “Sir, we went for a wedding last night. On the way back we had a flat tyre. We had to push the car back to the campus. So we couldn’t study.”

The dean agreed and said, “You could give the tests after a week.” The four boys were very happy.

After a week, the boys appeared for the tests. The dean showed up and said as this is a special preference test, each of you would take your tests in a separate room. The boys agreed as they were prepared. The question paper were handed out to them.

The first question was, “What is your name? 2 marks.” The second question was “Which tyre was flat? 98 marks.” You can imagine the embarrassment they had to face.

Lie is often used as a substitute for avoiding challenges and situations or to be specific, getting away with something wrong. And most important is, no one likes a liar.
Syed Shayaan Bakht

Fair with elders

The other day I travelled in a Bangalore city bus and offered the fare for my destination to the conductor. To my surprise, he returned some coins. When I asked the conductor why he had returned some coins, he replied, “You are a senior citizen. You are entitled to some concession.” I felt happy that elderly people are respected.
K. Ragavan

Tame bullies

“Bullying.” We hear this word quite often and know what is the meaning of it. But it doesn’t mean that everyone has suffered from bullying. Being bullied by one person is bad, but being bullied by the whole class is worse.  Let me tell you a story about a girl. She was not ugly or weird. She was just an ordinary girl.

I remember how her classmates used to make fun of her.  Writing poems about it was the only possible escape for her. She was bullied by the whole class for almost 16 years of her life. Every day I heard her crying, “Why are you hurting me?” And they used to reply, “Because you are ugly.”

Bullying plays a major role in one’s character distraction. That girl was bullied because she was skinny and all other lame reasons.

A few days ago I saw that girl; at first I couldn’t realise that it was her. She looked  pretty and there was a spark of confidence in her eyes. I was happy to know the fact that this girl is me.

It was me who was bullied; it was me who used to cry after school. It was all me. But look here I am writing a story about them and there they are asking for my help in their assignments.

It felt impossible to carry on when they were harassing me. I couldn’t move a step further that time. But in the end I got what I deserved.

Please don’t let bullies stop you. Don’t change yourself for them. Be creative and special like you are, because there’s no one better then you.
Hira R.

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