It was all there. The little bits and pieces of India that had managed to pass through strict inspection. For some of us, it was in the form of three or four bottles of the leading brand of coconut oil, enough to last two years of our serious, nothing but scholarly existence in this well-populated university town in Florida. Enough to oil our heads and necks and the pages of our complicated advanced level cheaper Indian reprints of textbooks that had traveled with us through endless labyrinthine chutes of airport security.
I’ve been looking for gifts for the past few days for my impending visit to India from New York. And I’ve been looking in vain.
Last year I bought some bottles of perfume with people’s names on them –unfortunately not mine but say Calvin Klein’s or Elizabeth Arden’s or even Justin Bieber’s. Sometimes they were not names but only initials. They appeared everywhere–clothes, shoes, leather handbags–with shiny tags that said CK, MC, AB, CD, EF, GH or something else.
I suppose that in the realm of gift-giving, even if there was some confusion as to who had given the gift, there would be no confusion as to whose idea it was. Calvin Klein’s.
But on my way, at my long layover in Dubai, I realized the folly of carrying these several bottles of unnecessary fluids and leather bags (yet so necessary for the human condition) over long distances.
Dubai airport was a great, wide, beautiful, wonderful mall which happened to also have airplanes. And it was newer and more sparkling than any mall in New Jersey or Florida.
Continue reading What gifts to buy in a global culture?