my birthdays

I am not the regular cakes and candles girl, no balloons and no confetti. In fact, my 1st public birthday in school was at the age of 4, in the month of March! I saw birthday girls and boys getting a lot of attention and me, the show-stopper being ‘sidelined’ and ‘ignored’ totally! The solution is to throw a birthday party. My dad had little idea of the days to come. He ordered lollipops for 60 odd people and packed my Duckback bag with them and I felt like Alexander! Oh my god, I love birthdays, everyone is my best friend. The boys would try to be nice to get an extra lollipop and the girls would smirk, wishing it was their birthday. Oh, it used to be so hilarious. Then again in the middle of the year I would want to have another birthday. Dad obliged, this time with moti churr ki ladoos. God knows, what he told the teachers I never celebrated my birthday on my birthday that year! Probably my parents did but I was not aware, I don’t remember any of my friends coming home or did I forget to insist. After that, all I remember about birthdays were temple visits and feeding the poor and remembering the departed to seek their blessings. I used to hate giving away to unknown people. Dad explained that my less fortunate brothers and sisters do not know what a birthday party is, that’s why you are the privileged one to share with them. “Hmff” was all I had. Now it makes sense.

College saw me with treats and all, Chinese or continental. Then, the Archies gifts and all, trinkets and stuff. Within 300 bucks I would treat an army. Univ was dedicated and special. My birthday came in the summer break and the phone calls were never ending. Wishes and blessings were more important. Cakes and more were no longer novelty.

As a teacher, my birthdays were even more fun. I loved the cards and the flowers and the enthusiastic singing and –“ma’am, where’s the treat?” It is a different birthday experience when your students (for whom you are surrogate mother/sister/friend) see you doing the normal things like everyday and still feeling like a diva! My boss threw a surprise lunch for the entire faculty at work, which was a pleasant surprise!

I miss my best friends and family. Last year, my birthday was spent admiring Salar Jung Museum, boy! That was an educative lesson!

This year, I was a lil’ unabashed and boisterous. I announced to everyone it was my birthday tomorrow and bla bla… People were offended, pretended to ignore but who cares? I made my point. I love my friends at work. I waited for my birthday- from 28th to 29th watching some forgettable movie on TV and my roomie trying hard to keep awake. My brother and comrade-in-arm, Gowtham lands at my place. Ahan, I can smell something. My cake was set up 15mins before 12. I was all –“Aww!” Man, I took 15 mins to blow those candles off! Shalini and GTM had great fun laughing their lungs out

And I was struggling with my lungs. Yes, I was OLD, they certified and sealed it. The cake smashing was not all that welcome. I was more worried about the uninvited ants. But it was the best birthday in years, away from home and familiar surroundings. Felt like a kid!

This morning when I got ready, I remembered Kristina’s dedication of Britney Spears’ “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman.” She always sang that whenever I attempted wearing a saree. And yes, I wore a saree to work. It was a great day, affection poured from every corner of the world from midnight. It is just another day in the calendar but I will always feel special. Thank you.

A rainy weekend

Hyderabad witnessed its first proper summer showers and yes, it was heaven-sent. Bonnalu brought good luck to the farmers and some respite to the electricity board. What happens with the onset of rains is an oft repeated tale. As much as I enjoy walking in the rain and picking up all the dirt and muddy rain water close on the heels I dislike it for all mundane reasons. Your clothes smell of whatever, everything has that musty damp feeling. Your hair is forever tangled and you can’t seem have enough of going to the loo. Water intake is low and tea, if someone is going to make it for you then it is most welcome. Make sure the kitchen bin is nicely covered, lest the neighbour’s cat decides to explore and play around. My flower pots were happy. My doormat was not tho’ and my flatmate’s turtles enjoyed the trickle on their tub. They frolicked and danced all over the water. The autowallah always has a reason to ask for more fare, why? It is raining. God, what happens if it is sunny? The roads are clean, no creature except for the odd stray tramp looking for some cover. The leaves of all the grand trees and also, the smaller ones make beautiful pitter-patter sound on the window-pane and also on the road, the earth smells fresh and nice and also, if the municipality forgot to seal the septic tank then that also smells. The bhutta guy has a scant umbrella to save his fire and business. That is the best rain snack. The vehicles on the road think the road belongs to their ancestry. They have scant heed towards that lone ranger walking home. They don’t mind splashing some mud, some water, some sewage and some gags. The choicest of expletives get drowned in the din of the pitter-patter. Ice-cream never tastes so gorgeous on a rainy day. Getting wet until your waist despite the fabulous umbrella you carry is no longer a distress, it is a style statement.


A ride on the rickety auto thru’ potholes and puddles
From over bridges and hoardings,
Women smile in namaskar and gold, selling sarees
The pigeons and crows do their business
Reminding me that we (read I) should also, do my karma

The little sacks of burden and the wobbly walk to school
The hot tiffins and the neon bright water bottles,
The neatly oiled hair infested with lice,
The kohl rimmed eyes and the flower adorned plait,
Such is one slice of life that I saw.

Either you or me,
Says the driver and the chap crossing the road
The resentful man shouts, “Phat!”
With a matchstick for a toothpick,
The auto driver rubbishes him off like dirt!

The buses honk, the cars cram.
The bikes jerk and the scooters hoot.
The kids wail and the mothers yap,
The fathers are grumpy and the servants crib,
The air smells foul and the jasmine makes it worse.

Over-ripe tomato carts and pushy vendors
Fish and fowl, live harmoniously with fruits and nuts
The lemons and the melons smile in their seasonal importance
Like the mangoes who suffer from a major superiority complex
Food is in plenty, you just need to know what to eat and when.

Enter the maze-
People speak in a weird jargon,
Trying to outwit each other,
Waiting for their moment,
You are either in or out.

Famished thoughts and fanned hunger,
Fans on in an AC room,
Papers rattle as much as the packets-
Mobiles ring, hostile looks
“How was it? “ “It’s ok, they smiled and laughed…”

Saturation point, patience running out
Two parathas and canteen chatter
Dog staring at you and hoping,
Like you hoping in a Micawberesque manner
That something good will happen.

End of the day, nothing happens
All sound and fury end in a whimper.
You don’t even get your five minutes of fame.
Came, showed and shoved, we are running out of time,
Another way of shielding inefficiency.

The long way home, home seemed so far.
You just long for that Momma special warm hot beverage,
You just want to hit the sack, you just want to bury your head somewhere
You just don’t want to answer any questions, calls or whatever.
Animated voices in the car, I drizzle off…