“To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
The custom of giving gifts on Diwali has been around for ages, in all Indian households. Gifts to friends, to helpers and to anyone who helps makes our lives simpler.
So Amber and I set about hunting for the right things to give, keeping a close eye on our budget. We bought warm blankets and sweet boxes for the following people who make each day possible
- Nirmala aunty, who comes in every morning and makes sure our house stays spic and span. She is the pseudo mother-in-law, who is always looking to guide me with just about everything, from washing onions the right way to customs/rituals and inspiring stories of courage and positivity from her own life. She shares her experience without qualms and if I ever ask her what she needs from me, she blushes and says, “Nothing at all.”
- Ram Bahadur, who cleans our car and bike every morning after his night shift as the society guard. He has a knack for finding our car, no matter which corner of the society we park it in.
- Ram Bahadur’s younger brother who serves as the security guard around our house. He only knows Nepali and does not comprehend a word of what we say. But there are times when we go out for a dinner or a movie and we come back, only to find him waiting for us with a nice parking spot he managed to reserve for us. The communication barrier does not seem to stop him from understanding people’s needs and helping in his own way.
- Ram Bahadur’s older brother, who has been waving and smiling at us from the day we moved into this neighbourhood. There are no actual services he gives us. We just happen to love his presence.
- Asha aunty, who comes to our neighbourhood with her aged father to make sure we all have perfectly ironed crisp clothes to wear. Her son lost his job recently and has been accompanying his mother these days. Her father’s eyesight is failing but he brings her to work on a scooter each day. Her husband is no more and she is the sole bread winner for her family. There isn’t a day when she does not greet me with her huge infectious smile.
- And lastly, the Kachre-wale bhaiya whose name we still do not know. We have never seen him on holiday. He is young, has a cool air about him and always looks happy to be taking away our garbage. He seems to have a sense of maturity and sensibility which most people even double his age lack.
We gave them their blankets and sweets with a nice warm hug and Diwali greetings. They seemed to be used to the gifts but what caught them unaware were the hugs. And I think that’s what made them smile from ear to ear.
During the same time, Amber and I happened to be discussing how in the past we have been very verbal and proactive when it comes to making a complaint about a certain service or individual. But each time we are happy or satisfied, we forget to even appreciate the person responsible.
So we wrote letters of gratitude and appreciation for two people, as gifts for Diwali.
- Our personal banker, whose first encounter with us was when we were highly dissatisfied with HDFC Bank. He has always been very patient with us and solved all of our problems to the best of his abilities. His courteous ways and simplifying acts have made our banking experience so much smoother. We had been so hasty in expressing our disappointment but we never bothered to express our gratitude. How easy it is to take the good things for granted! So we wrote to his superiors sharing all the wonderful things about him with them.
- The salesman from Policy Bazaar, whom we kept on his toes for a long time before bombarding him with all our questions, queries and doubts to look for the policy most suited to our needs. His unshakable patience and graciousness was worth praising. He was never too tired to run around in circles with us. We usually end up criticizing sales people, as we feel we have to tolerate the constant pestering from them. What we do not realise is – they are just having to do their job and in that they may be the ones having to tolerate our whims and fancies endlessly. And so we expressed our respect and gratitude towards him.
All this happily concluded in an interesting & beautiful Diwali. We decorated our house, said our prayers , spent time with friends and celebrated the light within.