Rakhis in the digital age

My only sister lives in New Jersey and she has two sons. Come Rakhi time, my daughters send Rakhis to their brothers in US and my sister sends her Rakhi to me. Unfortunately our postal system manages to misplace both sets of Rakhis each and every time. Never, in all the years of exchanging Rakhis with my sister overseas, have we both gotten what the other had sent. This apathy and inefficiency plays a big part in the collapse of our postal system.
Rakhis tiedLast year we didn’t send any Rakhis to each other and instead sent virtual Rakhis through emails and called each other up during this festival. Its not the same but we didn’t have a choice.
This year, a few days before Rakhi (on 10th August this year) my sister decided to try something different. She searched online for Rakhi delivery agencies that cater to India and sent her Rakhis through them. Its a simple system. You order online and choose the stuff you want to send from the photos and their description. The online store has their infrastructure set up here and purchase the material locally. This included the Rakhis, the tika, the puja stuff and the sweets. They also have a tie-up with local couriers to deliver everything in about 48 hours at most places in India. Its a good deal for all of us because the traditional sweets associated with Indian festivals are milk-based and spoil rather quickly unless they are delivered and consumed fast.
Her order was delivered in less than three days after she placed her order in the US. Everything – Rakhis, tika, puja stuff and sweets came neatly gift-wrapped through a courier. It also included a small card with her message printed on it for the festival. Once I received her packet, I decided to try the reverse and went online to find similar stores that offered to deliver Rakhi stuff in New Jersey.
fog_bankIt turns out that I am way behind the times. There seem to be at least thirty online stores specially catering to Indian festivals and traditional Indian gifts for delivery across the globe. I selected an online store from the hits Google gave on its first page and ordered Rakhis from my daughters to their cousins in US. And lo-and-behold, they were delivered to my sister in a few days after I ordered.
Things couldn’t be simpler. At one time I had thought to send her Rakhis through a courier from India but the cost of sending a few Rupees worth of Rakhis was in thousands. Then there is the fact that packets sent through couriers internationally are opened by the authorities for inspection. I have no objection to their opening the packets but then they don’t bother to put things back with any respect. The items are carelessly stuffed back and tied with cheap jute strings. It is so embarrassing to see the photos of the actual condition the parcel reaches its recipient. We didn’t try that after the first time – ever.
So this year, after a gap of almost a decade, we all had Rakhis tied to our wrists. And its not bad in economic terms either. The cost is comparable to sending a priority domestic courier within India with a similar packet. Most of the online stores guarantee delivery and are geared to meet the dates and times of Indian festivals. And they deliver not just in US and India but around the world. I saw delivery locations spanning the globe on most of their websites.
I’m glad my sister stumbled on to this. Its bound to make our life easier and our bonds stronger.

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