The Wedding/Birthday Gift Bag

In thinking about My First Post, I wondered where to start. About me? About him? A recent story? An explanation? I decided to let the stories speak for themselves.

It was August of 2007. Varun and I had met that May in Africa and had begun dating long-distance in June. After only two months of dating, Varun came to Philadelphia for a visit and to Meet The Parents. My parents had planned a birthday party for my brother, Mark, and myself. Varun, of course, was nervous about the idea of giving a gift the family would scrutinize.

I guess some things aren't obvious...(This is the very same bag)

After shopping with my Mom, he settled on a snazzy Sony Cyber-shot. (Not bad, I know!) I guess Mom didn’t help him pick out the bag though. As we sat in the living room that afternoon, Mark and I took turns unwrapping presents. Varun, of course, was eager to present me with his. I believe it was accompanied by a musical greeting card. But what caught the attention of my family was the gift bag. A pause. Muffled giggles. Confused sideways glances.

The glory of cross-cultural relationships is that they’re filled with awkward moments. We love them. Perhaps that’s why we love each other. To me, black tux + white dress + champagne = wedding. To Varun, a wedding is a red lehnga and a sherwani. It’s henna and walking around a fire. Which is why, to him, this bag didn’t scream wedding.

Me: Umm. Wow. How did you pick this bag?

Varun: It was pretty. Do you like it?

(Awkward eye contact with the grandparents)

Me: Yes. I do. But, it’s like…a wedding celebration bag.

My Dad: (Overly-loud chuckle) I guess we won’t be needing that for a while…Right…?

The advantage of being Indian is that it’s harder for people to see you blush. But Varun’s shocked and embarassed look made up for any failure to blush. His sincere confusion caused the room to erupt in laughter, and eased my parents concern that perhaps we were going to elope leaving only semi-obvious clues like gift-bags and velvet ring boxes in our wake.

Did I keep the bag? OF COURSE!



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