A few days back I crossed another milestone in this confusing journey we call life...it was my birthday you see! :)
I have to confess: I totally look forward to my birthday - its like my own personal cue to happiness. I'm not quite sure why this is. I suppose its a residue of childhood that I still carry with me. All I know is that when I'm counting all the holidays from January to December to see when I can catch a break, my birthday is what keeps me going through June. On our birthdays each one of us can feel special. We may be part of a group of students or teachers, Geminians or Librans, North Indians or South Indians...and still feel unique.
This year I was thinking about how the way I spend my birthdays has changed over the years. Now that I'm a grown-up and all, you see. When I was a kid, it was about children's parties. Lots of chocolates, candies, munchies. The "khoi-bag" which when torn would spill out a host of goodies, the birthday bumps, the games which involved all that running around, exhausting but ultimately satisfying. And who can forget the gifts! I was happiest when someone gifted me a book. But I was also mesmerised by a new box of pastel colours or sketch pens. I loved the board games that I got and the ping-pong bats and the yo-yo. What I did not like was when people gifted me money - I thought it was such a waste!
Of course as I grew older, I began to appreciate gifts of cash more than kind since it meant I could get myself whatever i wanted. I really wished people would refrain from gifting me clothes. I was developing a sense of how I wanted to dress and the ideas of well-intentioned but sadly clueless relatives did not help. :(
When I was in college, birthdays meant giving a treat to friends. So we would all bunk classes and go in a huge group to some joint having decent food and modest prices. I fondly remember some such trips during my B-school days where almost half the class would make their way down in a chattering group to a restaurant nearby and gorge on biryani or butter nan. Considering how many birthdays there were in a group of 20-25 people, we often suspected that our combined appetite single-handedly kept the restaurant running!
Even once I started working, I was lucky to have a group of friends who ensured that this day felt special even at the workplace. We would go out for lunch and exchange gifts. On the weekends when everyone was more likely to be free, I would make more elaborate plans to meet and treat various groups of friends from school, college and work.
As we grow older and our lives change, a lot of friends and relatives have moved out of my city. Birthdays become a great way to catch up with almost all of them in a single day! I look on this as one of the great perks of birthdays. With the advent of mobile phones, receiving calls at midnight has also become that much easier. This year also friends and relatives called up at the stroke of 12. It is a different matter that I had fallen asleep, thus causing several parties various degrees of aggravation ("How dare you fall asleep when I stayed up waiting to call you!").
Since I spend so much time out of home anyways, this year I spent a quiet day with family at home and celebrated by cutting a cake (chocolate of course). This cake cutting ceremony is a tradition that my family religiously adheres to and even if I feel silly sometimes, no birthday feels complete withou it. We had an amazing feast at home itself and I got chocolates, perfumes, clothes and... gift vouchers for Oxford bookstore(big hug to my sis)! When I returned to work, I received a card signed by my colleagues and cut a couple of cakes (yes chocolate again) as is the practice. Later I met some friends for a lunch date and had a great time drooling over some awesome Italian fare (food I mean).
As I grow older, I have increasingly had people ask me about my future plans. They sometimes hint and sometimes state that time running out and I should hurry into doing the things I'm "supposed" to do. They try to suggest that my birthday is now more a signal that the clock is ticking than any occasion to celebrate. But age is just a question of mind over matter, as far as I'm concerned...if you don't Mind it doesn't Matter!
I realize that things are changing with every passing year and sometimes I wonder how I became 29 so fast. I sure don't feel 29! But the wistfulness soon passes. I have too much fun childishly looking forward to birthdays to be too bogged down by the numbers. I guess what I'm trying to say is, any excuse for celebration that we get in life should be grabbed with both hands. After all, that's what when you truly celebrate Life! :)
Photos courtesy: Google Images