It’s that time of the year again

Hillary and Obama are fighting over primaries.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, primarily, February is the time when men go “Oh Bummer” and ponder at the upcoming loss of hilarity in their lives.

It’s that time of the year when one needs to decide what would make a suitable Valentine’s day gift for The Girl. And it’s not funny at all.

Admittedly, I am supposed to be an old hand at this, but..

Every year brings the same nerve-wracking pressure. What is a suitable symbol of undying love in commemoration of a priest in Rome who suffered martyrdom about AD 269? Here is a quick chronology.

My experiments with Valentine Day gifts


  • Ashok
  • Inner Narada

Circa 1990s

Many years ago, I stepped nervously into an Archies showroom to buy a vaguely pinkish piece of paper that professed undying love for a girl whom I had not even made conversation with. I found a suitable candidate, picked it up, forked over Rs. 20, and walked out.

That was when the Inner Narada announced lugubriously – “Archies? Thoo. Is that how you profess undying love? By buying a mass-produced piece of paper with words authored by some one else, probably an overworked clerk who mostly spends his time cursing his boss for not giving him free time to meet his girlfriend? Aah, the sheer irony.”

I threw that card away.

I walked into a Cassette shop to buy the next girl in my life, “The greatest hits of Richard Marx”. Apparently in the 90s, Richard Marx tapes were chick magnets.

The Inner Narada intoned sarcastically – “Thoo. So where ever your girl goes, whatever she does, Richard Marx will be right there, waiting for her. Is that what you want to tell your girl? Are you the one professing love or are you simply a messenger for Mr Marx?”

Oh well. The cassette tape, in addition to its claim of being a chick magnet, was most definitely a magnet magnet because it got stuck in the head of the tape player and caused Mr Marx to sing in the scale of an MD Ramanathanesque C instead of a Kumar Sanuesque E

So I moved on to Soft toys. Teddy bears holding I heart you signs, Monkeys holding roses, Gorillas playing guitars,  Grizzly bears playing Antaakshari, Duck-billed Platypi playing the harmonica etc.

The Inner Narada stated softly – “So yeah. Underpaid, overworked, Southeast Asian kids are currently saying ‘I love you so much that I don’t mind missing out school and playtime making this for you so that talentless losers like the one who spent Rs. 100 buying this from a company that pays me Rs. 0.5, can try to impress you‘”

Ah surely jewellery then must be the right thing. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, Rubies are her facebook friends, Emeralds must be on her blogroll and surely Sapphires must be her Orkut fans.

The Inner Narada informed insouciantly – “Blood Diamonds. Platelet Rubies. Lymphocyte Sapphires. African Warlords. Guns for Gems. Is that what you want to tell your girl? That you love her so much that you don’t mind sacrificing thousands of African lives to buy her a piece of Carbon?”

Ok. Surely, flowers are a safe bet. After all, that was the tradition in the middle ages, when Valentine’s day first became popular.

The Inner Narada smirked sardonically – “Plant reproductive parts, plucked out cruelly before they could bear fruit, only to be bunched together to die a slow, dehydrated death in non-biodegradable plastic covering, do not, I believe represent the concept of love. Would you like it if the sturdy Elm gifted the swaying coconut tree some human private parts?”

Fine. No flowers. But before I considered sarees, watches, chocolates, wolf pups, ventriloquist tarantulas and other goods that could be purchased in exchange for the swipe of a plastic card, Inner Narada interrupted thus –

“You are missing the whole point, Ashok. You do not express love by buying stuff. Buying is easy. Essentially, its like saying that you just don’t have the interest and inclination to spend your time doing something special for her, so you just get it done by some one else in exchange for cash”

Ok. I got the hint. I vowed to stop buying things. And that was when Inner Narada took a vacation.

Circa 2005-07


The first thing I ever made as a Valentine Day’s gift was a pencil-sketched card that had 2 sparrows in Bollywood-movie-kiss-scene-censored-replacement pose. But at the last moment, I decided to dump it.

But eventually, I felt bolder. More confident. And that was when I attempted a portrait.

Bad Idea.

The first one looked like something that the creators of South Park discarded. The second one, one that I spent many hours on (even used unethical tools like tracing paper etc) came out much better but in the end, didn’t quite look like The Girl.


I then tried writing songs dedicated to The Girl. Wrote the lyrics, sang, played the guitar and sequenced other instruments on Garageband, and gifted a small, miniature CD with an inset containing hand-written lyrics.

But after doing this twice so far, a third attempt feels like Terminator 3. Cliched and jaded.

Circa 2008

Ok. Now my wife is out, presumably shopping for a gift for me, and here I am, still planning what to do. Buying is passe, and I’ve run out of manufacturing talent. Some shady ideas come to mind,

1. I could dedicate a blog post to her

2. I could SuperPoke her on Facebook (But she is not on Facebook)

3. I could create a website, and search-engine-optimize it so that it shows up as the top result for the query “I love (name)”

4. I could post a video of myself professing undying love on youtube and send her the URL.

5. I could flood the social web with “I love her” messages. Twitter status, GTalk status, Orkut status, Facebook status, Email signature, Blog title etc.


One more day. And no good ideas yet.