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March 11, 2011 > Happy Living: One day at a time

Happy Living: One day at a time

Gifts from abroad

By ElenaMartina

My very dedicated Canadian husband works for a Swedish company in San Jose that allows him to travel to different parts of the country and world. I am constantly encouraging him to venture places for career advancement and higher business knowledge. His most recent trip was to Bangalore, India for seven days.

I have been dreaming of visiting India since my upcoming book's premise is based on arranged marriages and going there would have helped me see firsthand how people live, and how they treat each other. Unfortunately, I was not able to accompany him, but I made sure to say, with a melodious swing in my voice, "You better bring me something nice..."

At that point, I did not own anything made in India, so having something brought to me that was made there was going to be a joyful treat.

A week passed and he returned during my participation at a writer's conference in San Francisco. I asked him to stay with me at the Mark Hopkins Hotel where the meetings were being held, and as soon as I got a break, I went upstairs to greet him.

Was I happy to see him! After hugs and kisses, he opened his luggage and handed me a box of 40 individually wrapped chocolates made in Dubai, where he had to stop to make a flight connection. They were absolutely delicious and lasted merely hours in our hands. While eating a few of them, I Googled Dubai International Airport and was amazed at its interior, decorated with very tall palm trees, and a variety of duty free shops. He also brought a Dubai tourist book with beautiful pictures.

He then handed me a beautifully embroidered pale green Indian camisole (Punjabi) with matching silk pants. I didn't know where I would wear it, but it is good to own a set since Indians are a large population where we live and I could perhaps wear it during one of their festivals. He handed me a yellow cloth color box containing a jeweled antique brass camel walking along its master as if going to a camel show. Reminded me of when I watched a National Geographic television program depicting ornate camel events. I loved it instantly.

He brought other trinkets to give away as gifts, and the required magazines and newspapers I always ask him to bring from his travels, since I'm extremely curious about other countries' local news and do not want to rely solely on American journalists or the B.B.C.

The 21 inch Kashmir blue sapphire bead necklace he also gave me will look really good with my black dress when I take him out to dinner next week as a thank you.

Over the years, I have been given gifts from several countries, the most bizarre being from Kenya; a hair bracelet, believe it or not, made out of Elephant tail hairs, to the most outstanding one; a 22 carat gold intricate necklace and bracelets from Saudi Arabia. There are some things you just cannot buy in America, as jewelry stores mainly buy in bulk and you can easily see the quality differences between an item picked out individually and selecting from multiple copies. Being in new places and purchasing pieces yourself gives the gift experience a much more intimate and impressive touch.

I enjoy all my gifts and am always grateful to have in my hands jewelry or specialty items that no one else is likely to have in their possession. I sometimes joke that if anyone claims "jewelry is a waste of money," it is because they might not be worth the expense. I positively think that I am, and obviously my husband does too!

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