Finally after an on-paper birthday and an averaged out birthday, here it comes – my real birthday which is today. I wish myself from the deepest core of my heart and expect everyone else to wish me from the deepest core of their pockets. Birthdays, as you get older, present numerous opportunities. They have given me my only chance in the entire year to thank my bosses when he wishes me as other occasions of thanksgiving have been rare - a good appraisal as I have hardly stayed anywhere to get appraised or appreciation for good work as I have hardly had any work at any of the places I have worked. Birthdays increase my orkut scraps by a decent amount and I can massage my ego by telling my self how popular I am. It gives chance to interact with some annual friends who I talk only during birthday greeting conversations. Those who owe me money prefer sending SMS. Those who have lent me some money, make sure they do wish me on this auspicious day. However I have decided that I will do a reverse this time, call back to say thanks in reply of an SMS and cut the call and send thanks as SMS replies. I know I would be busy sending SMS most of the times. It is also a chance to get sweet birthday messages from old flames leading to a quick chat. No flames in my case though as I have always liked Billy Joel’s “We didn’t start the fire”. Actually, it never burnt also.
As I try to look down the memory lane which is getting longer and longer, I recall some of my most memorable birthdays
Pre Dravidian Era – I mean the year before 1996 when Rahul Dravid made his debut. All I knew about 9th September was that it was my date of birth. I never celebrated my birthday on this day. For all those products of Lord McCauley’s conspiracy against the culture of our motherland, we have our own calendar and my birthday was celebrated as per that calendar. It was in 1996 when my school friends (5 of them) celebrated my birthday and I spent a grand sum of INR 72/- in a restaurant which was the highest amount I had ever spent without my parents being with me. My dal Khichadi for today’s lunch billed me as much. Someone has said that money loses its value with time. I add - I lose money with time.
1999 – It was a special day. For the first time during my graduation, a by default bottom ranked guy was about to walk shoulder to shoulder with his “scholar” classmates. First, let me give a bit of backdrop to the story. 4 of our classmates were always in the bottom 4 in any subject and we called our group “Harkat-ul-ansar” which it was for the academically inclined – a terror for academics with your truly as one of the proud member of this highly notorious group. Coming back to the day, I had scored 20 out 20 in a subject which had 3 parts of 10. I was expecting 10 out of 10 in the third part as well which would have been my only moment of academic glory in more than two years in college. Answer sheets were corrected and displayed. I got 9 out of 10 and was highly disappointed. For the first time in my life, and last also, I went fuming to the respected professor’s (an old man from the lands of Jats) room and asked for the justification of denying me that 1 mark which would have given me a chance to look down the topper of the class – he got 29.
Me - “Sir, I should have got 10. You have given me 9.”
Respected Professor - “That is because you deserve so much. I wonder how you managed even 9.”
I pick out answer sheet of one of the toppers and throw it in front of him.
“Sir, you can match my answer with him. In fact I have written it in a better manner. This fellow has even missed several steps”
“How dare you compare yourself with XXX. How the hell you do it”
“No if, no but…sirf Jatt”
Okay, I made up the “sirf Jatt” part but “No if, no but” was so thunderous that even Sunny Paaji copied it in Jo bole Sonihal. Anyhow, this was my only birthday when I made a resolution and have not broken it till now – never to see my answer sheet after the exams and take it to a professor seeking some clarifications.
2003 – For most of you who primarily ask “How much is ikyasi?” when someone says 81 in Hindi, it may sound strange but I did cut my first birthday cake in 2003. At home, it was always celebrated in traditional manner where cake was mainly referred as Gobare ka Chhot (a heap of cow dung) and blowing candles was considered to be against our culture. Not that I missed cutting cakes though. In fact traditional celebrations were much more overwhelming.
Only place I found cake cutting as a tradition after leaving home was at IIM Calcutta. Tradition was, you cut your birthday cake, blow off the candles before that, distribute Mishti (sweets) kept in a Handi (mud – pot, not sure what it is called in queen’s language) among everyone present and go booze.
What used to happen was – get bumps i.e. 20 odd desperate souls would be bashing your butts with wet chappals, belts, bottles and whatever hard they could find? Then you would be asked to cut your cake with a Gudang Garam put on it instead of candles, as soon as you near your face to the cake, it would be dumped into the cake. Everyone else would be looting and distributing the rest of the cake where as you would find some eggs put inside your underwear and people kicking them to explode. As soon as you realize the presence of nature’s best hair conditioner in the most unexplored caves of your body (assuming you are not a George Michael fan), you would soon be thrown sweets (i.e. Rasogullas) on you. Then you would be taking bath in the sweet jelly of Rasogullas, soon the Handi would be put on your head and people would be trying their karate skills to break it. Some sane souls are always around to make you run from everyone before you are mobbed to be given electric shocks after having made to sit on an iron chair. Luckily, the second part never happened. You would rush to the bathroom to take bath and since you are so body-painted with your annual gifts, you would decide to take it seriously. But soon you would find yourself painted in blood – it’s the mosquitoes and mid night is when they are merry making in the bathrooms. Finally you get the sweetest of all the gifts – the Royal Stag Whiskey with soda. People generally wait for their birthdays for multiple reasons but with the recipe of celebration given above, you might actually prefer to fall sick on your birthdays especially with some big ulcers on your bums.
2006 – A bike ride to INOX in beautiful Pune weather and seeing a movie with not so many in the hall – sounds like an interesting date. Just that I had an 82 kg Male friend sitting next to me and we were watching bollywood’s first ever adventure thriller Naksha. As we came out, it started raining and it was so heavy that we had to swim our way back on the bike.
Okay, last one was no where close to being interesting. May be some would say the same about the entire post. But be nice, drop comment and drop appreciating comments. And in case you want to give me a birthday gift, my preference is cash.