Which is Mightier?
Learning New Things

"Getting It"

... I refuse to buy a fur coat for my wife because an animal was killed to provide for a humans entertainment. It’s quite another thing that I believe that a chicken exists for the sole purpose of attaining nirvana in a tandoor.

The Greatbong always makes me laugh.

This concept of gift-giving on multiple occasions during the year such as birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, and Christmas was quite alien to me before I came to North America. In fact, my family didn't celebrate, in any way, a birthday till I was 11. The change was brought about because my siblings and I used the same ol' excuse: Hey, everyone else celebrates it!

My parents gave in. From then on, we each got a home-baked cake, gulab jamuns, candy bars, and soft drinks for our birthdays. Still, no gifts. The vast majority of my cousins in Pakistan didn't even get that much. I remember, once I asked about the age of one of my cousins. He (or she) had to go and ask his/her mother for the date! I think his/her birthday was just four days past at the time. I was surprised, "Why didn't we celebrate it?"

They didn't know their birth dates because they never celebrated it.

At present, a few friends do know my day and I've told them not to worry about it. They just smile and say Happy Birthday when the day comes or a few days later when we do meet. That's it.

Comments

fonzter

nice blog :D

Isaac Schrödinger

Thanks.

AbbaGav

You don't sound like you feel deprived by not having received presents, is that right? Was there a different gift giving tradition, centered around some holiday or achievement event? Or was gift giving just not done for kids? Interesting post (by no means the first), thanks for sharing your background.

slickdpdx

http://lawhawk.blogspot.com/2006/02/goodbye-mash.html

Isaac Schrödinger

>> AbbaGav,
"You don't sound like you feel deprived by not having received presents, is that right?"

That's correct. Of all things, I felt quite fortunate considering that most of my cousins didn't even honestly know their own age. In a sense, within our extended family, my siblings and I were the "spoiled" ones!

"Was there a different gift giving tradition, centered around some holiday or achievement event?"

In my Pakistani school, cups were given to students who managed to place themselves in the top three in their respective classes. I always managed to be in the top 25% but never got close to getting a cup.

When I was 10 years old, the celebrations of Eid (the one after the end of Ramadan) were taking place and I came across a most unusual practice. The Pakistani men in our building were giving away 5, 10 or 20 riyals to kids (3.75 Saudi Riyals = US$1).

The only thought in my head was, "Why!?" By the way, we call a married desi man "an uncle," even though they are not related to us. So, I asked one of these uncles this same question. He replied, "It's Eidee" (pronounced ee-thee). Then it hit me: I had been missing out on some cold cash. From then on my siblings and I would get around 10 riyals from our dad and more if we had connections; think of it as Halloween with cash!
----
A big reason why there weren't any sports-achievement prizes in my Pakistani school in Saudi Arabia was because of the weather. It was just too hot for any outdoor sport and the school didn't have any indoor facilities. In Pakistan, however, one could compete and win prizes in cricket, field hockey, squash, badminton, table tennis etc.

So, it's possible that my chances of winning a prize or a gift would have been higher in Pakistan but life overall would have been worse.

"Or was gift giving just not done for kids?"

That depended primarily on the parents, close relatives and friends. Some Pakistani parents in Saudi Arabia had birthday parties for their kids, and so practically everyone would bring a gift.

We had no relatives in Arabia, we never had a birthday party and my parents never gave gifts to us unless one considers cash to be a gift.

Isaac Schrödinger

>> slickdpdx,
MASH to the rescue.

It's funny that just a few weeks ago, one of my friends, who has watched tons of sitcoms, was talking about MASH. I think he had seen some movie where one of the characters was from MASH.

My response was, "What the hell is MASH?"

His jaw dropped, "You're kidding, right?"

"Um, no."

He says, "It was one of the most popular TV shows EVER!"

"Never seen it."

He looks around frantically, "I don't know what to say."

And so the conversation endeth.

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