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by Rehana Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:59 am
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Despite a few takers, the greeting card industry is going through a major revamp,
as it tries to keep up with love in the age of technology. TOI explores

There was a time when Valentine's Day was incomplete without the mandatory 'greeting card'. Come February, and every card and gift shop in the city would be crowded with youngsters, picking out a card with the 'perfect words'. Your love for your partner was judged on the basis of the 'emotional laden' card you picked out. But that was then. Today, greeting cards are almost passe.

This Valentine's Day, we decided to take a trip to the once-crowded greeting card stores in the city. Once inside, you're immediately hit by nostalgia. Rows of greeting cards lie stacked, but the customers are missing. Yet, there seems to be a major revamp happening in the greeting card industry, which is trying hard to keep up with lovers in the age of technology. Flipping through the cards, what captures your attention almost immediately is the contemporary and pop culture take on love.
With generous doses of Bollywood on paper, greeting cards have Ishq Wala Love and some such plastered all over them! Then comes 'A recipe for romance', which gives the receiver an idea on what to expect on Valentine's Day. Sample this: Champagne sipped by candle light, that might set the mood just right...

Wrapping my arms around your waist, pulling you so close, our hearts will race.
Then taking a romantic walk together, might just set our mood for pleasure. Erm, quite explicit, to say the least!

A salesperson at one of the shops, explains how the industry is trying to keep up with the times. Flaunting the Ishq Wala Love card, he says, "This is the best-selling card. Even though it's priced at `800, students don't hesitate before picking them up." Flipping through the card to get an idea as to why it's priced so steeply, one doesn't have to wait long for Bollywood songs and dialogues to pop out. Aisa pehli baar hua hain, Pyar dosti hai, Bade bade deshon mein, Mohabat bhi zindagi ki tarah hoti hai, Jab pyar kiya toh darna kya — every popular song and dialogue from romantic

Bollywood films, finds its way to the card!
KP Sridhar, manager and owner of Fantasies Gifts, a greeting card shop at Ameerpet, says, "We are into this business since 1992, and I can tell you that greeting cards have undergone a major change. The colours, the language, look — everything has gone through a transformation and it's in keeping with the likes and dislikes of youngsters today. We have cards with SMS language and the lines used today are bolder. Earlier, they used to be very simple."

But the store-owner rues the decline in business. "Ten years ago, a week before Valentine's Day, all the racks in this store would be filled with V-Day cards. Now, we have just three racks, because there aren't many buyers. In fact, the cards we have currently are not going to be sold out. Thanks to technology, there is a 70% decline in the past 10 years."

Even youngsters seem indifferent to existence of 'greeting cards'. A youngster browsing through the rack of cards admits he's doing so out of curiosity. "I was just checking them out. Actually I am here to buy books. Greeting cards are not for me. I don't buy them. I'd rather send a text or email."

But it's the simplicity of these 'messengers of love' that a few still crave. Rummy Azad was spotted at the store, trying to find that perfect card for her hubby. "Those simple words that expressed love so beautifully are totally lost. You don't find them on greeting cards anymore," says Rummy. For the past 16 years now, she has been buying a V-Day card for her husband, a tradition of sorts. "I have all the cards that my husband gave me and he has mine too. If you see the cards over the years, you can certainly tell the difference. Earlier, they used to be simple, yet beautiful. The language was sweet and the words were emotional. Today, they have gotten bolder. However, I still try and find that one card for my husband," she says.

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