Hatrack Gift Exchange and Sri Lanka Post

There was a December gift exchange over at hatrack, and the postal notice arrived on Saturday to let me know a package had arrived for me. But it was too late to pick it up, so it waited until today.

So we take the trishaw to the post office – I’ve never been there before, so this is a new experience for me. It’s way the heck and gone far away from us. Relatively speaking, of course. We arrived at around 11:45 am, and given that their lunch breaks are advertised as 12 to 1, we knew there was a possibility that they’d say, "Oh, too late. Come back after lunch." But they didn’t.

We presented our stack of paperwork to one guy at a counter in the middle of nowhere. He wrote some stuff down in a log book and gave one of our copies to another guy, then told us our number and had us sit down, which we did. There were counters for air freight, sea freight, cashier, and other related things. There were probably 25 or 30 employees, at least half of which seemed to have nothing to do most of the time. They just stood around waiting. Whatever.

Finally, our parcel came out, but we had to wait a bit longer because there were others in front of us. Finally, we were called to the counter.

The counter runs along the wall and around a curve, and for the most part, there are glass partitions on top of the counter. I presume to protect the postal employees. We go stand in the air freight section and stand there, waiting our turn.

All the parcels are being opened, one at a time, on a small table. The man before us had two long narrow parcels that, when opened, had bolts of fabric inside. The postal employee who was recording the contents took the manufacturers tag to write down the fibre content of the material. How detailed!

Finally, it came to our turn. Compared to almost everything else, our parcel was very small – a foot by ten inches by about four inches thick.

Now comes the warning. Before we even got here, Fahim warned me that they might just open it up, take all the candy out, and give us whatever’s left, if anything at all. This, of course, breaks my heart, but I still want to give it a try anyway. And the paperwork we received indicated that the contents were candy, so there was a good possibility that we wouldn’t get everything/anything.

Anyway. They open up the parcel, and it’s a bunch of smaller items all wrapped in Christmas paper. The postal employee immediately drops it back in the box and closes it.

Everything I’ve ever read says that when you send presents overseas, you never wrap them in wrapping paper because the postal employees will just rip it off anyway. Apparently not so.

Fahim says that it’s obvious that the contents are a gift – well, wrapped in wrapping paper, I have to agree – and that’s why they were left alone. Lucky lucky break.

We’re then told how much we’ll be charged – Rs. 100. No problem, no biggie, and I’m so definitely willing to pay that amount. So we’re shuffled off to the next person who fills in the paperwork indicating the contents, who then passes it on to the person who’ll be taking our money.

In the meantime, a couple of boxes were being opened, and the contents were very securely placed in the box. Rigifoam around the objects, and then liquid foam into all the empty spaces to make sure that nothing moved. Or, at least, that’s what we assume based on the fact that as they opened the cardboard box, the foam was attached to the box, which they literally had to peel, chip, and flake away from the rest of the foam. They tore that box and the foam to shreds, and it’s pretty obvious that whoever sent it DID NOT want the contents moving.

At least ten, but more likely fifteen, minutes later, it’s finally determined that it’s artwork. Statue. And there’s a tonne of foam debris and cardboard debris all over the floor.

We pay our rupees and leave.

Yay! I got the present!

I open it up, and what’s inside? First things first. A Christmas card from Jeniwren in Bellingham, Washington. I’ve been through Bellingham more times than I can count – on the way to Seattle, Portland, wherever. I have a favorite Mexican restaurant in Bellingham. It’s all pretty funny. Anyway. The card. It’s handmade. Three layers of various types of paper and hand-stamping on the front – beautiful. And hand-stamped inside. It’s beautiful. Jeniwren went to a lot of effort.

The presents. There were six wrapped gifts inside. Six. When I opened them up – and some had cute little kidlet wrapping paper, some had very dignified very nice wrapping paper – guess what I found? Chocolate and candy, and lots of it!

Inventory of Gift Received

  • Brookside – Chocolate Bowl – Milk & Dark Chocolate with Real Orange (225 grams)
  • Brookside – Chocolate Bowl – Dark Chocolate Sweetened Dried Cranberries (225 grams)
  • Seattle Chocolates – Truffle Bar – Meltaway Mint (2.5 oz/70 gram)
  • Seattle Chocolates – Truffle Bar – Hazelnut Biscotti (2.5 oz/70 gram)
  • Lindt – Raspberry – Swiss Milk Chocolate with Liquid Raspberry Filling (3.5 oz/100 gram)
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate – Premium Baking Chips – Semi-Sweet Chocolate (12 oz/340 gram)
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate – Squares – Premium Chocolate Assortment – Dark Chocolate with White Mint Filling / Milk Chocolate with Double Chocolate Filling / Milk Chocolate with Caramel Filling (12.77 oz/362.4 gram)
  • Liberty Orchards – Aplets & Cotlets – Deliciously Soft Apple and Apricot Confections with Crunchy Walnuts (12 oz/340 grams)


The gift exchange was supposed to have a dollar value of $10, but $20 at the absolute most if you found something that was perfect for your giftee. There is no possible way that she stayed within those boundaries. No possible way whatsoever.

On the other hand, am I arguing? Oh hell no! This was . . . delightful!

Author: LMAshton

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