Monday, July 2, 2012

Understanding the amazing concept of व्यवहार !!

Since I have traveled very little across the length and breadth of our great country, I am not sure how many of you are aware of the word, व्यवहार (surely not my South-Indian friends). So today I will be spoiling my Sunday explaining to you this very dangerous (sometimes life-threatening) phenomenon. व्यवहार has many meanings but the one that I am going to take up today means the cash/kind that you give as gifts to people on pleasant occasions as a token of (generally fake) congratulations, thereby expressing your (surely fake) happiness. For example, you must have noticed some useless Chacha/Tau in wedding receptions, entering in a register 'who gifted what'. Yeah, that's as simply as this concept could be captured.

Now you might be wondering what could possibly be wrong with such a sweet gesture? Allow yours truly to explain using the language of a software engineer since I am kind of in that field (till you are ready to sponsor my book). So here it goes:

Test Case: The 10th standard result of Pappu, the first of seven kids of your neighbor Mr Gupta, is out and against your prediction Pappu Paas Ho Gaya. You and your wife are completely devastated by the kid's success, but since this is a momentous occasion (which every kid is falsely made to believe) you wrap all your bad wishes in a 100 rupees (व्यवहार) and gift it to Pappu with a very heavy heart. Thanks to Mr Gupta's perpetual libido, you continue to follow this pattern with Pappu's other six siblings as well.

Expected Result: When your only kid Tinku clears Xth, the same Mr Gupta (Pappu's pappa), reciprocate with the same amount i.e. 700 rupees, which is consistent with the underlying principle of the concept of व्यवहार , i.e. the total amount of money that changes hands should remain same!

Error Case #1: The most common of errors this one. When your only kid Tinku clears Xth, the same Mr Gupta, reciprocate with 100 rupees, intentionally or unintentionally erring in the fundamentals of व्यवहार that the amount changing hands should be same. 
Side Effect of Error Case #1: You and your wife is being left red-faced. You try to diffuse the situation by bringing in Mr Gupta's Ghajini-like memory as the possible reason but your wife is not convinced. She even proposes to have six more kids to establish some sort of financial equilibrium with that chor Gupta family. However the plan is quickly aborted after considering your physical viability and you guys sleep over the matter after wishing to God that Mr Gupta dies of piles or something.    

Error Case #2: A rookie mistake this one! After 10 years of you gifting a 100 rupees each to all seven of Mr Gupta's kids, your only kid Tinku clears Xth. Mr Gupta, reciprocates with 700 rupees this time but failing to take inflation into count. 
Side Effect of Error Case #2: You notice the slip-up and probably choose to ignore it. But, it hasn't gone undetected under your wife's radar. She finds herself burning from inside. You try to explain her that 'the rate of inflation' doesn't exactly goes hand-in-hand with 'the time to conceive', but to no avail. That ship has already sailed by then. In the next few weeks, you overhear her smart-ass comments whenever the Guptas are in sight: "10 years back we could get the ration for the entire year at the cost that we get for one month now. Oh this inflation!" OR "One can't even buy a decent pencil-box for 100 rupees these days." 

Error Case #3: When your only kid Tinku clears Xth, Mr Gupta is unable to reciprocate due to some genuine reason like Mr Gupta being on a deathbed having entered the terminal stage of a deadly disease OR his house being burnt down forcing him to declare bankruptcy OR one/many of his daughters have fled from the house with same/different neighboring boy(s).
Side Effect of Error Case #3: You guys wait for days for some good news on the व्यवहार front. Following the disappointment, your wife pulls you into a week long analysis of how many people Mr Gupta could have sent the व्यवहार through, if he could not genuinely make it himself. Huge sketches of Mr Gupta's family tree are drawn to depict the possible carriers of व्यवहार. Finally it all ends with your wife justifying why Mr Gupta is in the state that he is.  

Error Case #4: This one's a killer. When your only kid Tinku clears Xth, Mr Gupta, in all his health and happiness, just doesn't turns up to reciprocate. Plain and simple! Just ignores you completely, point-blank right-on-your-face stuff.
Side Effect of Error Case #4: Mr Gupta is dead for your family now. Your kid Tinku even flicks Mr Gupta's nameplate and buries in your backyard, thereby officially celebrating Mr Gupta's pleasant demise. In reality, you guys start walking over egg shells when Guptas are around. Within 24 hours, the entire neighborhood comes to know what kind of a jerk Mr Gupta is. You once again try to calm the storm by attributing this faux pas to Mr Gupta being a Bania, but your rationale backfires on you as you realize, perhaps too late, that your wife's mother's side is also Bania. As a result of this insensitivity on your part, you are awarded a week-long silent treatment with occasional verbal abuses and generously salted meals. By the time you finish your exile and are planning to make an honorable comeback, your wife has already started unearthing any past/current affair that has brought shame to the Gupta household, the ultimate aim being to prove that deceit is in the DNA of Mr Gupta. Things like "No wonder Mr Gupta's father had two wives" OR "Colony people must prohibit Mr Gupta near the hand-pump when women are using it" OR "Why does Mr Gupta's wife only thinks of watering the plants in the balcony at sharp 11 A.M. everyday" OR "Karma will catch up with that SOB sooner than later."

So those were some use-case scenarios that you might find handy once you enter the Grihastha Ashram (aka DeadEnd) phase of your life. Continuing with the explanation of the concept, as our civilization progressed, some wise men got together and decided that giving cash as gifts looks very cheesy (finally!) and that, ladies and gentlemen, was the birth of another great practice of 'gifting in kind' (WOW!). 

But pretty soon the women in house found a loophole in the new mechanism as well. For instance, if Mr Gupta gifted a 'Milton ki water bottle' to Mr and Mrs Agarwal on their marriage anniversary then Mrs Agarwal must elbow Mr Agarwal to immediately run to the market and conclude an approximate price of the 'Milton ki water bottle'. Then Mr and Mrs Agarwal wait anxiously for the marriage anniversary of Mr and Mrs Gupta, to gift them a gift of approximately same price. Of-course by then the wretched 'Milton ki water bottle' would have been re-gifted by Mr and Mrs Gupta to somebody else.

Mrs Agarwal re-gifting Milton ki water bottle

As with other good things in life, the very well thought-out concept of 'gifting in kind' too had a couple of issues. First, if somebody gifts you, for instance, a cheap sweater and you are cheap enough to start wearing it too then everytime that gifter sees you in that sweater, you would have to put up with comments like: "Oh! That sweater looks so good on you!" Of-course with the old and austere system of 'gifting in cash', this kind of situation would never have arisen. I mean nobody could come up to you and say, "Oh! That sweater looks so good on you! You must have bought it from the 100 rupees that I gifted you." Second problem relates to the shameful act of re-gifting a gift you received. This act involves helluva precision and careful planning, like the Greeks did before attacking Troy. One mistake here and there, and the gifter ends up seeing his gifted gift in the possession of the person to whom it has been re-gifted and you end up becoming Mr Gupta of Error Case#4.

Such is the robustness of the concept of व्यवहार, that it doesn't only holds good for an occasion like exam results, but is applicable to almost all scenarios which can be related to human society like Raksha-Bandhan, Marriage, Birth of a (legitimate) child etc. It truly has passed the test of time and generations. It has even successfully countered the threat that the roaring prices of gold presented. (One of the clauses of the ideology of व्यवहार dictates that the total amount of gold that changes hands too should be same.) 

So kids, today you learnt about the legendary tradition of व्यवहार. Unlike 'Sati', the practice of व्यवहार has not been abolished, at-least not in my family. You also got a feel of how cheap and shortsighted me, my family and Kanpurians in general are. 

Also now you know, if you are gifting something to Mr and Mrs Nigam then what to expect!!

P.S. Time for diplomatic crap now: The article in no way intends to offend the Guptas/Banias. Some names were to be used to provide more authenticity to the article, that's all. It could well have been Banerjee/Bengali or even Nigam/Kayast! Regarding my jibe on women being involved in everything that is wrong on earth, don't take me lightly. Happy व्यवहारing !! 


  1. Hahahaha.. Even I remember my Dixit gave me 100 व्यवहार for passing Xth Exam :)

    Abe kha se sochta hai likane ki in sab:P .. Anyways I like more gifting a "milton ki bottle" and writing व्यवहार in wedding in register or diary

  2. Interesting :D
    Every community has their own rules of व्यवहार! In Haldwani, where most of my relatives live, when someone gives an envelope of rupees as "मुंह-दिखाई" to a new bride, the grooms family adds a few more rupees and give it back as "टीका"!

    1. Oh how did I miss that envelope thing.. Darn !

  3. Bhaiya mere admission ka vyavahar abhi tak nahin diya hain tumne aur mujhe yaad hain. In fact maine apne register mein note kar liya hain.

    1. arre mere rajkumar.. tumne bhi mere 29 janamdin k vyavahar abhi tak nahi diye hain.. sab guru notepad mein note ho raha hai..

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