Sunday, April 17, 2011

A gift that you presented


Do you have a small or large family?

My family is a very small one.  I have my wife and daughter.  My wife is a nurse and daughter is studying in high school.

In fact, I have a large family.  Both my parents are alive.  My father is engaged in agriculture.  My mother is a housewife.  I have two elder brothers, who are working.  The eldest one is married and stays with my family.  The younger one is working in Bangalore as a software engineer.   I also have a younger brother, who is studying in school.

How much time do you spend with your family?

Whenever I am at home, I try to spend a few hours with my family.  Since I have a lot to study these days, they let me alone most of the time.  I usually have food together with my family.  We spend some time watching television together, especially in the evenings.  We also pray together.

Since I stay away from home, it is only during holidays that I can be with my family.  Whenever I am at home I make it a point, to be with the members of my family.  We sometimes go for a trip or eat out often.  I really love being with them.  I always cherish the memories of childhood, when I was always at home.

What things do you do together?

There are a lot of things that we do together.   One of the important things that we do as a group is to cook, especially during the weekends, when I have a lot of free time.  We also do our gardening together, watering, manuring and weeding the plants.  Another important activity that we do is to pray in the evenings.  Apart from that, we shop together and go to the movie together.

Language Learning

Let us talk about learning English.
How long have you been learning English?
Where did you learn?
What is easy / difficult?
Is English important in your job?

I have been learning English ever since I was about 10 years old, when I was studying in my fifth grade.  I learned the alphabets and basic words at that time.  I studies in a vernacular medium school, but English was a subject throughout my school years.  I did not take English very seriously during my school days, and I scored comparatively poor marks for it.  Well, English was the hardest subject for me; and to be frank, I hated this subject at that time.  One of the reasons that I did not like English was that we did not have any good teachers. 

It was after I joined college, I started studying English seriously.  I had a wonderful English teacher who laid a sound foundation in English grammar.  Since then, I started loving this subject and started reading books in English.  Now I am in my forties and the more I study English the better I love it. 

Since I am an English teacher, I need to improve my English all the time, learning new vocabulary and reading more and more books.  I make sure that I update my knowledge of English all the time.

A gift that you presented
What the gift was
What the occasion was
Whom you gave it to
Why this gift was very special

My youngest brother was getting married and I wanted to give him a special gift.  A couple of days before the marriage my wife and I went to Ernakulam for some shopping.  As we were about to return we just went to my favourite store, ‘Wills Life Store’.  In fact, this particular shop has the trendiest and the most fashionable clothes for both men and women.  I had the gift in my mind when I went into the shop.  After spending a few minutes in the store I spotted an off-white linen casual shirt.  It was a designer wear and I put it on, to see how it looked.  My wife said, it was one of the best shirt that I had ever bought.  I was very happy.  It was an expensive shirt but it gave me a great sense of satisfaction.

On the eve of the wedding we had a party and my brother put this shirt on.  Everybody was very appreciative of the shirt and my brother was very happy about it. 

This gift was very special to me because I really liked the colour, material and the design of the shirt.  Apart from that, it was first gift that I ever presented to my youngest brother.  I was extremely happy that he really liked the shirt.  It was the right occasion that I gave him this present. 


Would you like to receive the same kind of gift yourself?

I definitely would like to receive the same kind of a gift.  The reason is that I love good clothes, especially linen shirts.  For example, two of my brothers work abroad and when they come to India, they present me shirts.  I always look forward to it.

What are the positive/negative aspects of giving and receiving gifts?

Giving and receiving gifts have both advantages and disadvantages.  On the one hand, it is an expression of one’s love or appreciation for someone.  It can strengthen relationships.  It can also create a good feeling in the minds of people. 

On the other hand, giving and receiving today has become a commercial activity.  Sometimes we are forced give and receive gifts.  A lot of time and money is involved in buying gifts.  For example, if someone calls you for a birthday, you are compelled to give a gift.  Sometimes, it can become a burden on your budget.

What are the different types of gifts that women, men and children would like to receive?

Women are usually fond of ornaments and clothes.  They also like to receive household appliances and handicrafts.  For special occasions like birthdays they receive a lot of such gifts. 

Children are usually attracted to toys and dolls.  They love chocolates and sweets too. 

What changes have taken place in giving and receiving gifts in the last 50 years?

A number of changes have taken place in the way people give and receive gifts, over the last 50 years.  In the olden days gifts were not very common and it was exchanged only during rare occasions like marriages and housewarming.  Today, giving and receiving gifts has become a very frequent affair.  Exchanging gifts has become very common on a number of occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and success in an exam. 

Whose gifts do you treasure most?

I treasure the gifts of my loved ones.  For instance, I always cherish the gifts that my wife has given me.  In fact, she gives them to me with great love.  I greatly value gifts from my parents too.  Gifts from close friends or colleagues also can give me great pleasure.

What may be the type of gifts that children will receive in future?

I think we should wait to see the type of gifts that children will receive in the future.  If I make a guess, I think, mostly it will be electronic gadgets or games.  They are also likely to receive a lot of good chocolates. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A gift or article your treasure most

1.     Where do you come from?

I am from a small and beautiful town called Athirampuzha.  In fact, this place is in the district of Kottayam in central Kerala. 

2.     What kind of place is it?

Basically, it is a trading place.  People from the surrounding areas come to my place to buy vegetables, fish and grocery.  We have a large pool in the heart of the town which is connected to other places by a network of canals.  When I was a small boy, water transport was very popular and country boats would come in large numbers for trading purposes.  It was wonderful to see trading boats crowd in the large body of water for loading and unloading goods.  But today, you can hardly see any water transport and such boats have disappeared for ever, and large trucks have replaced them.

3.     What would you suggest a visitor your hometown should see or do?

It is difficult to suggest a particular place, but I think, the pool and the canals are an interesting site. You can also go for a boating through the canal.  On your way you have beautiful paddy fields, on either side.  Another important place that a visitor can see is our church which was built a few centuries ago.  It has got an ancient alter ornamented with wooden carvings of saints and angels.  Another attraction is a large church bell, which was imported from Germany in the 18th century.  There is also a famous Siva Temple in our neighbouring town of Ettumanoor.  This is a well-known pilgrim centre.

4.     What is the most interesting part of your home area?

Again, I would say it is the pool.  Most of the activities of the town take place around this area.  There is a fish market on one side and a vegetable market on the other.  Especially on market days, that is Mondays and Thursdays, the whole place is full of activity.

5.     What kind of jobs do the people in your town/village do?

Although it is basically a trading place, majority of people are not engaged in business.  My town is thickly populated and the people are quite educated.  So many of them have jobs, especially in the district headquarters of Kottayam, either in the government or private sector.  There are teachers, lawyers, nurses, doctors and other professionals.  A few of them are also engaged in agricultural activities.  Certainly, there are a number of businessmen as well.

1.     A gift or article your treasure most

What the article was
Where you got it
How you preserve it
Why it is very precious to you

Something that I treasure most is my IBM laptop, which was not actually a gift.  Although it is quiet old it never had any serious technical problems, except a few software crashes, ever since I bought it about 8 years ago. 

Well, I bought it from a friend of mine who has a computer business.  He suggested the brand and I think I made the right choice by buying an IBM lap top.  Technically, the components of my computer are of very superior quality and therefore, in spite of my constant use, I have never changed any parts.

Although I have a leather laptop container, I rarely use it now.  I used to put it in a leather bag initially, but later, due to my laziness, I just leave it on my study table.  Sometimes it gathers a lot dust and occasionally I wipe it with a towel.  I would say my laptop is very untidily kept but by God’s grace it keeps working.

My laptop is very precious to me because I type my notes in it and use it for presentations in my class and meetings.  Sometimes I watch movies in it.  I also have stored a lot of data and personal information in my computer.  After my office hours I spend long hours in front of my computer either browsing the net or studying.


1. Do you think if people have become more or less materialistic in the last 25 years?

What I feel is, people’s attitude towards material things have not changed over the last 25 years.   The only difference is that today we have greater access to comforts and luxuries unlike in the past, and we have enough money to buy them and so we enjoy them. For this reason, many people tend to say that materialism is on the increase.  Actually, that is not the case.  If people in the past had access to such things and if they had as much money as we have today, they would have definitely enjoyed luxuries.  The only difference is the economic progress that we have made.  The attitude towards materialism remains the same always.

I feel that people have definitely become more materialistic during the last 25 years.  Formerly, comforts and luxuries were not available to people as much as we have today.  May be, people were little more idealistic and they had better human relationships.  Especially in rural communities, you know, people maintained traditional values in families and social life.  Whereas, today the situation has changed.  Urbanisation has forced people to be more individualistic and achievement oriented.  Material achievement has become a major purpose in life and therefore, I think, other values of life have taken a back seat.

2. What kind of gifts children usually like?

Children usually like chocolates, toys and electronic games.  You know, for example, if you go to a shop with your children, you will see them running to the toy corner or the chocolate rack.  These days, a lot of children have a great liking towards electronic games.  There are many children who like, cartoons and story books too.  So when if you plan to give a gift to a child next time, think of these things.

3. What kinds of things give a sense of prestige to people today?

From my personal experience, I feel, material possessions can give a great deal of prestige to people today.  For example, if you have a luxurious car or a beautifully designed house it can give you a sense of pride.  Another important criterion for prestige is political power at different levels, which can make you popular and accepted by the society.  Superior positions in government services can also definitely give you prominence in the society.  What I mean is, senior police officers, judges and similar officials have great prestige in the society.  Apart from that, superior education can give you a lot of honour among people.  Certain professionals like doctors, engineers and teachers are respected in the society.

4. What kind of things were status symbols in your grandfather’s time?

Although I am not very sure, money and other material possessions were status symbols even in my grandparents’ time.  I think, people who had a lot of land were considered honourable in the society.  Superior education and political power were also considered status symbols at that time.  I believe, basically, the status symbols people of all ages are generally the same.

5. What kind of things are women usually attracted to?

Women are generally fond of good clothes and ornaments.  If you go to a textile store or jewellery shop the majority of the shoppers are usually women.  This means that there is a certain vanity in women and they love to flaunt their beauty.  They are also attracted to cosmetics.  Many women buy a lot of house hold appliances and crockery.

6. Do you think people purchase a lot of things for prestige and not because of genuine need?

Certainly, today if you have money to spare, you certainly buy things that can show off your wealth.  Although you may not need such luxurious items, you buy them because you want others to look upon you.  For example, one of the considerations for many people, when they choose a car, is whether a particular car is used by the elite in the society.    Or, even if the family is a small one, people build huge houses and many of the rooms are unused for years.  Prestige is a serious consideration for many people these days.

7. What will be the kind of things that will give a sense of prestige to people in future?

Even in the future wealth will be major determining factor that will a sense of prestige to people.  Education, the expertise in technology and communication abilities also will give a sense of pride to people.