One would think that this birthday when I am quite close to the big ‘THREE-OH’ would dampen my spirits on my birthday! I cannot but relate this expectation to a F.R.I.E.N.D.S episode which shows the reactions of everyone when they celebrated their 30th birthday... But my birthday was yet again an occasion to get pampered and feel young all over again…. 22nd July despite being a working day & despite the wrath of rain gods, still managed to make me smile (or giggle more likely) through the day!
So, why did this happen? May be coz things like dress codes, surprises, gifts, hugs and night-outs – still remained ‘the usuals’ at my birthday… May be coz all the relevant people in my life have their own ways of making me feel special…. May be coz it wasn’t really a day but a week of celebrations! May be coz even if I’m a pessimist at heart, I ALWAYS end up seeing the silver light on that day… And more importantly coz, it’s probably the only day when I decide to act mature and also succeed in it (For instance, maintaining a written “call list” wasn’t done AT ALL… Though end of day, I counted the number of calls/posts (Do I see the readers nodding their head with only one statement in their mind ‘When will she grow up?’)
Anyway, without further ado & rambling, this is how 22nd July 2010 was! It started with Vraj picking me up after work on 21st night…. With my zero observation skills, quite naturally I did not realise he had changed into a different set of clothes…. Only when he pointed it out, I was like “Oh you did!!! Oh that means we are going out!!! Oh, considering you are a ‘Birla’s aulad’ it’ll be a hep hotel with candle light dinner…. Oh, meri ijjat ki waat lagegi in some 5-star hotel coz of what I am wearing… you are so rude na – why won’t you ask me to get a change of clothes too if you were planning something!” If you can believe this, I actually managed to say ALL OF THIS in a single breath!
But after the volley of statements, throughout the ride – I was guessing all the possible hotels in Mumbai where he could take me to…. I even googled and started listing them…. Vraj played his part well – sometimes ‘acted’ saying, “Oh! U r so smart – u guessed!”, sometimes just smiling as if his plan was exposed etc. … Net – Net, “Ullu banaya mujhe!” Finally, we came to this place called, ‘Dadar, Mumbai 28’! It’s a vintage hotel of sorts (as you can guess from the name) and apparently serves awesome non-veg food (which we came to know only after dinner there)! At the restaurant, I got my first gift – Godiva liqueur chocolate box! Now that’s a sweet start of the day, ain’t it?
Inside, zero observation skills were displayed yet again when I did not notice a table full of 12 odd people – my very own junta – patiently waiting for me (did I mention I got late that day too!)…. And when I did see them, I failed to notice that they were all in Red & Black, my favourite colors! Of course, GS was in pink but I give it to him since it’s a shade of Red Shruti was there with her ‘better’ half and told me how I unnecessarily harassed her the previous night (I had called her and told her how I found out she is coming to my house and she insisted on how she wasn’t! And when I agreed to what she had to say, I sulked!)
The other jhang-bang was there too!
1. Mom-Dad (long ride from Borivli to Dadar in heavy rains and after work)
2. Shruti-Shraddha(after a night out due to exams/projects)
3. Saasumaa-Sasurji (after long tiring day with all travelling involved due to the ‘dress-code’ factor)
I couldn’t stop smiling and feeling special for the pains they took for me. After talking to everyone and hugging them, I asked “Priya kyun nahi aayi? Of course, she has to come!” And then madame made her presence felt. As usual she was like, “Arre! Tum log yahan kaise? I heard abt this place and I just came” Such a childish attempt na but if it was any more sophisticated, it wouldn't have been her
After a sumptuous dinner, which ended very fast (surprisingly considering the laughs and banter around) we waited & at 11:15 pm waiters’ got my ‘surprise’ cake! Vraj was like, “Areeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyy! Abhi nahi!!!” and we all laughed at his reaction! Anyway, we killed time till midnight.... Can you imagine that 11 people on the table wanted to pay the bill and leave early and ONLY Vraj held the fort and made us wait.... Basu messaged saying, I’m sleeping so happy budday in advance and I called him and forced him to stay up and wish... (This is the price to pay to love me, but a small one! )Of course, he wished me at 12 else he would have to hear that till he became a grandfather
To pass time, we ordered desserts and at the stroke of mid-night (which were actually 4 different strokes – one said central railway time, one said western railway time, one said JnJ time and other said right time period ) my first cake came! I cut the cake, fed everyone, took snaps from Priya’s cam and suddenly I had a juggernaut force coming down on me! It was a hug from Namu who came from Bangalore to surprise me.... Obviously, since she is the ‘noise’ of the house, hajar awaaz happened with her arrival.... Archana wished me too (Yes! Since shaadi with GS our ‘super-early’ morning person has learned to stay up!) and then there was an unexpected caller Rahul.... After talking to him, I realised that his excitement came NOT from wishing me but hearing me say ‘shiv, shiv, shiv!” in response to him saying “chicken”!
Finally at 12:35 we left that place for Mulund! Did I mention I got my second round of gifts here Shruti, Praveen & GS bid adieu here and we reached my Mulund house (Phulgirkars – Datars – Priya) Here I got the third set of gifts Then after a round of ice-creams, all senior citizens slept off and we all stayed up! I was up till 4:00 am checking FB, mails etc. & at that point my old bones forced me to sleep till 7 am.... “Things well begun, day awesomely done”, I thought as I slept
Dressed up in my new clothes & got a fourth round of gifts in the morning. I came late to office and got fully drenched (Mumbai rains) in the process. As luck may have it, our administration chose to have the lowest possible temperatures that day! But no amount of cold could have doused my enthu-ness – after all it was my budday! As soon as I entered, Nupur & Manish wished me.... I had a round of calls during the day as well.... Ideally, I would have had a second cake cutting ceremony @ office but since I had joined only 3 weeks ago – no one really knew it was my birthday.... Now, I am super enthu about my birthday but going and telling people, “its my budday wish me!” isn’t really an awesome thing to do! At 5:00 pm, I left for Borivli so that I could spend some time with Namu. Aai – Baba graciously agreed to let me spend my day there! I got drenched again and because of this, I did not go to meet Nishu & Arti who had actually got candles and chocolates for me.... Sorry baccha! Will make up for this!!! We were supposed to leave for ‘Inception’ – a movie that everyone dared me that I won’t understand.... Vraj came late, rains did not stop and idea of getting drenched for the third time did not sound too appealing.... So, we ordered in, ate garam-garam food and played cards till it was 23rd July 2010 – the 8 people closest to me!
In the last ten minutes, while my father dealt the cards, I checked through the list of phone calls.... So many people tried innumerable times to get through to me and wish me.... So many of them do this year on year without fail and just make me feel special.... Amit who never once forgot to call on my budday, Ashwath who called and we spoke for almost an hour, Ninad who calls despite having a right to get mad for not meeting often even if we are in the same city.... GG messaged, mailed and called I would have been happy knowing he remembered but he really surpassed himself when he used every form of communication! Shaw, Needs & Shruti called back-to-back and had I not known better I would have thought – “Hawww! They have come to surprise me” (Yeh dil always maange more people so please don’t get bugged) Relatives – Maussis, Chachas, Chachis, Mamas – Minutai, Ruparel friends Pritee, Abhijit etc., JJ Medical college friends (No! I did not go there but still managed to meet Pooja) and a few juniors Mayank, Noddy, Chhallo, Ankoor, Rajant called too.... Arundhati called – increasing the number of continents I received calls from to 4
After the game concluded, Vraj and I left for Mulund.... Got drenched the third time! As I went off to sleep, I thanked God for giving me signs to tell me once and for all – “Sharmili, stop whining about being old and writing blogs like you are 65... You have a long way to go there!”
The birthday celebrations continued on 24th July 2010 when I cut my second cake – in Lonavla... Awesome cake, brilliant view, 8 people huddled up on a bed drinking cool breezers and the thought that Shruti remembered my funda of a ‘Birthday Week’ – I was all smiles again
Such was 22nd July 2010 – as awesome as the others were and I felt as special as I did in others... Over the years, people participating in my budday have changed (since the time I have started writing this), surprises have changed, and people giving surprises have changed!!! But through all the years, a certain set NEVER changes.... May be that’s what they call a core!!! A core that is not only of people who are bound by blood to love me but also of those who love me despite the ‘consistent’ disruption I cause in their lives.
Love you all!!!