Unseen Passage: Gift

The other day I received an unusual and very gratifying gift : I was given a tree or rather, I was given half-a-dozen trees which would be planted on my behalf. I had been invited to give a talk to an organization. After such events the speaker is usually given a token gift. Sometimes the gift is that of a pen, or something useful. Often, the gift is in the form of a plaque or a similar token. However well-meant, such gifts are destined to gather dust in forgotten corners. Which is why I was agreeably surprised to be given a scroll which attested that, on a designated plantation established for the purpose, trees would be added in my name as part of the ‘green’ movement sponsored by the organization.

In an increasingly environment conscious world, the gift of a living tree or plant makes for a perfect present. The tradition of giving and receiving gifts has increasingly become a highly evolved marketing exercise. Apart from festivals like Diwali, Holi, Christmas, Eid and others, a whole new calendar of celebration events has been created to promote the giving of gifts: Mother’s Day, Father’s day, Teacher’s day, Valentine’s Day and so on.

What do you give to people — friends, relatives, spouses, children, parents, employees, clients, well wishers who more or less have everything or at least everything that you could afford to give them as a gift?

Another box of chocolates? Another bottle of scent or after-shave? Another shirt or a kurta? Another another?

Thinking of unusual and pleasing presents which are also affordable is a full-time job. Like wedding planners and planners of theme parties, present planners professionals who select and make up gift packages for you to give on occasions like marriages and corporate events—and doing increasingly good business.

However the best planned gifts of mine and thine go often awry. How often particularly during the so called ‘festive seasons’ when gift giving and gift receiving reach epidemic proportions—have you had the embarrassing experience of getting back as a present a gift you yourself had given to someone who, having no use for it and not realizing that it was you who had gifted it to begin with had unwittingly returned your gift to you? Like musical chairs, musical gifts only too often go round and round.

This is true not only at the individual but also at the level of the state. Diplomatic protocol also demands exchange of gifts according to culture and tradition. Such tokens like the numbers of crudely made miniature Taj Mahals that sarkari India has presented into the reluctant hands of foreign guests must fill entire godowns across the globe.

How much more preferable a living tree than a crude model of the Taj possibly made of marble from an unauthorized quarry? If the giving of tree sapling were to be institutionalized, it could lead to another green revolution in the lucrative and growing field of gift giving, with a new, ecofriendly industry taking root in plantations and nurseries specially created for the purpose. People could feel good looking at the certificate that trees had been planted in their names. Next birthday, give someone you love a tree one day the two of you might sit under the shade of the same tree.

Q. On the basis of your reading of the passage, answer the following questions in about 30-40 words each.

  1. What was the gift? Why was it unusual and gratifying?
  2. Why is selecting a gift described as a ‘full-time job’?
  3. What does the writer mean by “However the best planned gifts of mine and thine go often awry”?
  4. What is the demand made by diplomatic protocol?

Answer

  1. The gift was a scroll which attested that on a designated plantation half a dozen trees would be planted on behalf of the writer. It was all usual and gratifying for him as it was different from the usual token of appreciation handed down to a speaker and it was for a great cause.
  2. Selecting a gift is described as a full time job as often people have all necessities and it is impossible to choose the perfect gift for them. Also most of the time we get things in gifts we usually do possess.
  3. The writer means that sometimes even giving gifts can go totally wrong. Sometimes during festive season, one can receive back the same gift from another that he/she had given.
  4. Diplomatic protocol also demands exchange of gifts according to culture and tradition. Such tokens like the numbers of crudely made miniature Taj Mahals that sarkari India has presented into the reluctant hands of foreign guests must fill entire godowns across the globe.

Q. On the basis of your reading of the above passage, answer the following.

  1. The synonym of ‘satisfying’ as given in para 1 is ___________.
    1. gratifying
    2. contenting
    3. relieving
    4. modification
  2. The synonym of ‘uncomfortable’ as given in para 6 is ____________.
  3. The antonym of ‘consciously’ as given in para 6 is _____________.
    1. aury
    2. particularly
    3. embarrassing
    4. unwittingly
  4. The antonym of ‘willing’ as given in para 7 is _________.

Answer

  1. gratifying
  2. embarrassing
  3. unwittingly
  4. reluctant

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