Let’s say you are currently on a business trip in India and an Indian colleague invites you over for dinner भोजन का आमंत्रण (bhojan ka aamantraN) with his family. No matter where you are in the world, it is not only polite to take a giftउपहार (uphaar) for your host, but it is also a great way to break the ice and get your host to warm up to you.
What gifts उपहार do you take with you have been invited over to someone’s house?
If you are short on time or haven’t had the opportunity to know your hosts long enough, a box of mithaai मिठाई का डिब्बा (mithaai ka dibba) is always sure to please. Try an assortment of the diamond-shaped cashew cake, काजू कतली (kaju katli) or अंजीर बर्फ़ी (anjeer barphi) which is made of figs and nuts like almonds and pistachios.
If there are little children in the house, sweet treats like biscuits (cookies) or chocolates can win them over. Cookie sandwiches with fruit-flavored cream filling are known as cream biscuit in India, and rarely fail to delight. Older adults appreciate an assortment of dried fruit and nuts that includes the more expensive cashew काजू (kaju), almonds बादाम (badam), pistachios पिस्ता (pista) , and raisins किश्मिश (kishmish).
And if your host has school-going children, stationery is a hit almost any time of the year. Fancy pencil cases (magnetic, character, multi-compartment); coloring sets; sharpeners; notebooks, scented erasers, ink/fountain pens स्याहीकलम (syaahi kalam) are all great gifts.
Just a little note to all ye out there in the Western world–in India, an eraser is called “rubber.” If you go to a stationery store, that’s what you want to ask for if you want an eraser.