Valentine's Day

36 Comments

On this Valentine’s day buy a diamond for the special woman in your life—-it will be something she will remember for ever.

I let out a small imprecation under my breath as I heard this on the radio while driving home from work. Not because I had not bought a diamond for my wife (I am a big miser) but because of the way the media brainwashes us into believing that love is directly proportional to the cash you spend on the object of your affections. And that a diamond is the best way of expressing what’s in your heart.

Why a diamond? Why not bubblegum?

Because it’s the most expensive thing you can think of.

Which prompts me to ask myself: Why oh why is the most ethereal of concepts ie love to be measured by the most corporeal of concepts ie cash?

I understand what drives the diamond merchants and card vendors and the sellers of soft toys—after all Valentine’s Day is exclusively a capitalistic endeavor, aggressively promoted by the media only as a vehicle to sell merchandise that people do not really need so much so that I sometimes suspect that Valentine is the name of the guy who founded Hallmark cards.

Their game plan is to make an association with buying otherwise-useless things that have high profit margins with “love” and push this association explicitly through media advertisements and implicitly through movies and television soaps.

Quite a racket.

But why do sensible, otherwise level-headed women fall for this sham–especially with respect to the buying of diamonds? I mean tell a lady that the sweatshirt she is going to buy has been made by bonded laborers who work under horrible conditions where the price of refusal to work is the cutting off of hands and odds are that they are going to walk away.

However this is exactly how most diamonds are mined and most women seem to have no compunctions about it. Tell me, how many women on getting a diamond ring or diamond jewelery ever stop to think as to how that thing got there, whether it is a “conflict diamond” or not or how truthful “certificates of authenticity” actually are.

Now now you say. All this is just an excuse for Greatbong not to buy a diamond.

Which incidentally is right.

[For instance, I refuse to buy a fur coat for my wife because an animal was killed to provide for a humans entertainment. It’s quite another thing that I believe that a chicken exists for the sole purpose of attaining nirvana in a tandoor.]

You will also tell me how deluded I am: women don’t want diamonds or expensive things—they want gestures. And gestures don’t cost money—or get anyone be-handed.

Nice. So what kind of gestures? Why a simple bouquet of flowers. Just a sign to show the man cares. How touching. Now if I told you that the bouquet of flowers I have in my hand was not bought from some chic flowershop but was painstakingly collected by me from the tombstones of the local graveyard , would it be quite so saccharine?

After all, taking flowers people have left on gravestones required more effort than just buying them at a store.

Or giving you a diamond ring and then adding that this was something I gave my last girl-friend which she returned when we broke up?

Would I get brownie points for that?

No I don’t think I would.

Which brings me to my central point of Valentine’s day as seen from the female perspective: did you spend money on me?

If you did, you are a sensitive man.

Else you are a mean-minded ogre who “has changed” !

But wait, gifts work both ways—-guys also get stuff on Valentine’s days. But they are girlie things too—tie pins, pens, scents, aromatic candles, chocolates, musical cards (which woe betide you if you cannot find after a few years) and sometimes even that monstrosity—soft toys.

It’s not as if there aren’t enough occasions for giving sappy gifts—birthdays, anniversaries and such like. But no we have to add one more superfluous occasion on top.

It also puts undue stress on those who do not have a “Valentine”—especially in a country like India where unbridled male-female interaction is an opportunity open to a few.

Valentine’s day, like all capitalistic constructs, is thus primarily divisive—meant to amplify the divide between the haves and the havenots or in this case the “getting it” with the “getting it nots”.

Valentine’s Day–Hai Hai.

[Vday Disclosure: I took a bunch of carnations, a card and chocolate home —-so that my wife still believes that I am a softy at heart. Which shows I dont necessarily practice what I preach. Aaah well.]

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36 thoughts on “Valentine's Day

  1. Nicely writ Arnab. It is also most amusing to see women flock to florists to order flowers for themselves at work. Just so their peers know they have ‘someone special’ in their lives. Now how disturbing is that.

    Here is another article on how Valentines day has been twisted and bombed beyond reason:

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/107/11.0.html

    flowers? cards? soft cuddly toys? sugary godivas ?

    pardon me, I need to bury my face in a barf bag….

  2. LOL!

    Valentine Valentine – mush is in the air – not even greatbong could escape without it hehe – I agree, Valentine’s Day is simply a commercial day to buy more gifts.

    Its not as if women were satisfied with the gift you would buy them on their birthday, your birthday, anniversary, engagment, first-time-we-met day, first-time-you-proposed-day, first-we-fought-and-we-made-up day…. that you have one more day to care off! Otherwise “he-forgot-valentine-gift” will be re-iterated atleast 6 years from then every valentine hehehe!!!

    Good post – I dont know why cannot love be just normal without the show off and need to “show gestures”, “expressing your feelings” and all that corny stuff!

    Have a great valentine though 🙂

    Suyog

  3. Superb blog. I have been reading your blog’s since last 2 months. But responding for the first time. You have a great sense of humor. Your article on Mithunda is a classic.
    Keep it up.

  4. The advantage of reading your blog is that i can read my own unthought thoughts from an excellent narrator.

    “Valentine’s day, like all capitalistic constructs, is thus primarily divisive—meant to amplify the divide between the haves and the havenots or in this case the “getting it” with the “getting it nots”.

    Classic. I like your new blog. But can the font be made a little more sexy?

  5. how come my husbands car radio said no such thing?
    valentines day inspires him not to look even in the general direction of me [more than the other days that he does just that]
    this day is now is more associated with shivsena on a break everything spree, police action and a general big time nuisance.

  6. Well, well…nice post….

    Yeah, I really cannot understand the need to use up one day of the year to remember anything!!! Even World AIDS day…you forget it the rest of the year…..are these “days” supposed to be evil reminders that you have done nothing about it all the rest of the year????

    I have been wearing black to office, college for 5 years now on this day….

  7. Well said ! Some additional thoughts:

    In addition to the jewellers, the florists and Hallmark stores, the restaurants really make a killing on V-day evening. Any fine dining place worth its pre-dinner bread rolls seem to have their very own ‘special’ V-day menu that could easily relieve you of a cool hundred green ones or so. Interestingly and presumably to avoid sticker shock, they mostly advertise this special price as per person instead of per couple – yeah right, as if some loser would really venture out to eat out alone on that night !

    Wonder if Bill O’Reilly is taking up cudgels against this secularization of Saint Valentine’s Day. ?

    And if you really wanted to impress your date on Valentine’s Day, follow this advice ! (Disclaimer: self promotion link !!)

  8. Congratulations on having your own domain…great writing…as usual. One thing about your blog though —> After a long wait you get to see a dark blue background…then a few moments later a very faint unreadable letterings appear…then after another wait…Suddenly…wham! There is Mithun staring at you blinded by his 17th orgasm.
    Is that happening only to me? Or is that meant to be.

  9. hmmnn…Well I am in the city of the Sena and dont I love them on this day!!
    They make single people like me feel proud that I am single. And as one of the forwards said to me, “Happy Independence Day”…

    But seriously, the marketing ppl dont need a day dedicated for love necessary to sell their gifts. Once we are done with this day, they will create a day to give gifts to all the people who leave comments on people’s blogs “-)

    HP

  10. @Gokul: Precisely. One more way of broadening the “divide”—I got and you don’t. So let me rub your face in the ground while I am at it.

    @Suyog: Normal? But that’s where the problem is—we let the corporate-run media define what “normalcy” is—not celebrating Valentine’s day has become “abnormal”.

    @Avadhoot: Thank you…look forward to seeing you in the comments section

    @Yourfan2: :-). Right now I totally like this font—it’s kinda small…but it looks neat. Maybe once I get bored of it, will change. It looks okay in all browsers and trust me on this one: it’s not easy to get all browsers to do a decent job in rendering your design. I dont know if you saw my last comment—but I had a post on the Book fair and was eagerly awaiting your input and your memories of the Calcutta Book Fair.

    @Varsha: Aaah husbands.

    @Vinay: Thank you

    @Naveen: This is a day in which you boost the consumer spending index—that’s the purpose.

    @Mallik: Thank you too.

    @Michael: The fat dancing baby who I left on my previous blog ate it up.

    @BongoPondit: Yes I quite forgot. Restaurants mint money too….Bill O Reilly is too busy during V-day trying to get Fox employees to do a threesome with him.

    @TerritorialMale: I have no idea of this effect….does it mean you cant read the font? In other words once Mithunda having an orgasm appears, does the site look okay?

    @HP: Happy Independence Day is right. Giving gifts to people who comment are fine—I shall pass along all the gifts I got on the “give gifts to bloggers who run the blogs where you leave comments” day.

  11. Arnabda, let me first tell you that I consider you to be Guru….. Eklavya-Drona distance education ishtyle. Namastubhyam. Your blog’s perhaps the single factor that made me overcome years of blognorance and procrastination and finally start up a blog. (And that momentous day for human progress was yesterday….. another Valentine’s Day as a “loser single” prompted me to shut myself in a room and create my blog.)

    This is a devastating salvo on the evil western capitalists seeking to trample down the “getting-nots” of Indian society. Someone should sue these critters for the mental anguish they are causing on the Average Desi Bloke. You go, Comrade Bongarenkov….. millions of sulking young men are solidly with you! When the revolution comes, we shall line the capitalist lackeys, this Archie-Varchie and Hallmark against the wall in the finest traditions of our Great Emancipator, Lord Emperor Stalin.
    Peace!

  12. Arnab, heres something for the VDay spirit…..

    I never quite figured out :

    Why the sexual urge of men and women differ so much. the whole Venus and Mars thing. why men think with their head and women with their heart.

    FOR EXAMPLE:

    One evening last week, my girlfriend and I were getting into bed. Well, the passion starts to heat up, and she eventually says “I don’t feel like it, I just want you to hold me.”

    I said “WHAT????!!! What was that?!”

    So she says the words that every boyfriend on the planet dreads to hear… “You’re just not in touch with my emotional needs as a woman enough for me to satisfy your physical needs as a man.”

    She responded to my puzzled look by saying, “Can’t you just love me for who I am and not what I do for you in the bedroom?”

    Realizing that nothing was going to happen that night, I went to sleep.

    The very next day I opted to take the day off of work to spend time with her. We went out to a nice lunch and then went shopping at a big, big unnamed department store. I walked around with her while she tried on several different very expensive outfits.

    She couldn’t decide which one to take so I told her we’ll just buy them all. She wanted new shoes to compliment her new clothes, so I said lets get a pair for each outfit. We went onto the jewellery department where she picked out a pair of diamond earrings.

    Let me tell you…she was so excited. She must have thought I was one wave short of a shipwreck. I started to think she was testing me because she asked for a tennis bracelet when she doesn’t even know how to play tennis.

    I think I threw her for a loop when I said, “That’s fine, honey.”

    She was almost nearing sexual satisfaction from all of the excitement. Smiling with excited anticipation she finally said, “I think this is all dear, let’s go to the cashier.” I could hardly contain myself when I blurted out, “No
    honey, I don’t feel like it.”

    Her face just went completely blank as her jaw dropped with a baffled “WHAT???!!!” I then said, “Really honey! I just want you to HOLD this stuff for a while. You’re just not in touch with my financial needs as a man enough for me to satisfy your shopping needs as a woman.” And just when she had this looklike she was going to kill me, I added, “Why can’t you just love me for who I am and not for the things I buy you?”

    Apparently I’m not having sex tonight either.

  13. Thanks for your suggestion to somebody else about using the ‘anon’ for sending the comments from an office – the only difference will be that now the name will be at the end. I also don’t like the automatic display of one’s name in the reply section.

    As usual, the post is both really humorous and serious thought provoking. Your reasoning for not buying a fur as compared to eating a chicken is just plain hilarious. But I have a serious point to make: Flowers collected from tombstones might ‘require more effort than just buying them at a store’ but that is actually stealing because they are supposed to be left there for departed souls by their relatives, friends. The carnations that your wife got from you were from a store – right?

    By the way, now some girl schools in Cal are celebrating V-day at the school by having food and cards and some music – minus the boys of course!! May be in some distant future the boys will be allowed in the school for the party on V-day!!

    yourfan

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  15. great story, ashit sinha… sad that i have read that one years ago in those dreaded forwarded emails that pass as office humor…

  16. GreatBong,
    As always yet another great post. I completely agree with you that Valentine’s Day is capitalist creation and the media aggressively promotes it. And the worst aspect is that the media and card companies see Valentine day celebration as emacipatory in nature.
    Lets not let commercialisation take over our emotions.

  17. It was a nice post, and in your typical humorous style too. I totally agree to the opinion that V-day is being promoted by the card companies for their benefit. However, I’d like to differ with you on one point. You said girlfriends are not happy with flowers collected from tombstones although it requires more effort than buying. But have you tried creating a bouquet yourself with flowers plucked from your own (or somebody else’s) garden? I don’t think any girl would object to that. The primary reason for objection to the graveyard flowers is, in my opinion, not that they are free, but that they are second-hand. Same holds for the ring rejected by the ex-girlfriend.

  18. Haven’t you heard of the saying ?, “Diamonds are forever”. Well that apart, whether valentine day or not, it is the thought behind the gift that counts and as you have pointed out in the last paragrah, it is one another way to kind of expose the divide between the haves and the have nots.

  19. You make such a big fuss about it and then timidly buy some flowers and a card and chocolates. Talk about anti-climax. Hope you also had fun watching all those mushy films on HBO and Star Movies after going out for a fancy Valentine’s Day special dinner.

    Two years ago, outside my college in Sion, Mumbai, a bunch of Shiv Sainiks protested the ‘celebrations’ of V-day. They broke a door, some windows and did everything like that which goes with the idea of peaceful protests. They also decided to rename the day – as they famously like renaming things, Mumbai anyone? – as Kalpana Chawla Divas. Because she had just passed away in outer space some few days back. Well now they forget all that. There has been no mention of that in any news report or anything. Maybe if Hallmark made some commemoration cards and Cadburys some spaceship-shaped chocolates then we can have a KC-Day too. Then we can have a post by Greatbong about how he hates all this and after visiting the temporary memorial built as a tribute to her, he goes home. Now that’s something to consider.

    Let people sell what they want to. If someone in Gaza can sell hatred by selling Danish flags to burn, then someone sure as hell can sell love. Everything is an opportunity. And as far as V-day is concerned it only knocks once.

  20. @Wanderer: No thumbs needed here. Nor middle fingers. I hope the revolution comes soon—I can’t wait to get up on a bucket and make a speech.

    @Ashit: :-). You could have mentioned the source of ths.

    @Yourfan: Yes the carnations she got were from a florists. My point is that I think the problem women have with flowers from a tombstone wont necessarily concern the legality or morality of the action (after all they wear diamonds which are far more “illegal” anyways) but the fact that it was free of cost.

    As to girl schools celebrating V-day…whew. I read here of teachers wearing red to school on Vday……all I can say is aah well.

    @Satya: Sorry dude for the small fonts. Increasing the size signficantly breaks the column widths of this delicately constructed template. Of course that can theoretically be fixed but in any case I am waiting for the results of the WP 2.0 design contest.

    @Anon: Hmm

    @Ashish: Dont think there was ever emotion here in the first place.

    @Sugata: They would raise their noses at the weeds and the dandylions and the fact that it doesnt look too good. I agree with your point—but frankly what’s wrong in it being second hand? It’s the gesture isnt it?

    @Hiren: Yep.

    @Fonzter: Thank you

    @Nikhil: Yes you are so clever for pointing out what a hypocrite I am. Caught me there.

    And following your point: just as someone sure as hell can sell love, someone sure as hell can criticize it.

  21. Sorry to bust this male bonding but wanted to throw one thought in, since so many of you aantel men don’t like the soppy mushy whatevers of V day, is it not possible that a lot of women don’t either? The posting and the comments seem to do the usual club everything in a skirt as aliens from venus or mars or wherever that totally bizarre book claims women are from!

    Nah, I know I know, it’s all fun and humor and I am not being a random feminist – I like your posts a lot but it did make me feel a bit pissed off so ranting a lil bit 🙂

  22. Arnab, Ah well you are right I should have mentioned the source which would have cooled the Anons. I got the fwd & then read your post so in a hurry just posted it.

    Anon, the fwd must have been there for ages. It was the timing & the context of this post that made it funny.

  23. Well I wonder why do people bash such commercial festivals. After all they are also sources of employment. With so many scams going around, its nice to see one based on love :d

  24. Bhaiti, I should have figured out why no new posts from you show up on Bloglines. Ei shob otyachaar, jaano toh. Abaar “Sub with Bloglines” koro, abaar template edit koro … keno eto chonchol bolo toh? Have some consideration for those of us affected by (not-so-) premature senile decay!

    J.A.P.

  25. @Anon: Relax. Its not that I am saying that all women love Vday…but you gotta accept the scales are a bit tilted here right?

    @Territorial Male: Does it consistently load slowly? Thats worrying.

    @Ashit Sinha: Not a problem…

    @Tanveer: Making money out of love—now that’s an original concept.

    @JAP (Bhaiti):

    Chalna jeevan ki kahani
    Rukna Maut ki nishani

  26. “It also puts undue stress on those who do not have a “Valentine”—especially in a country like India where unbridled male-female interaction is an opportunity open to a few.”

    So true 🙂

  27. hi greatbong,
    too bad i chanced upon your post so late, otherwise others too would’ve/might’ve read this article – http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/198202/diamond . it’s about how the diamond industry (re)created itself, and spun the whole myth of the timelessness of their product(s), through advertising, media placements, and consumer manipulation. a must read.

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  29. Pingback: Valentines Day Hai Hai | DesiPundit

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