Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Birthday Blues

Friday, 10th June 2011 was a momentous day – Nike turned 30! And the day was an unmitigated disaster. Of course, being the 30th birthday, the day was at a disadvantage to start with. Now I believe there are two ways of celebrating milestone birthdays – one is to go wild and crazy and make it a birthday to remember; the second way is the other extreme, where you lie low, hope no one notices its your birthday, wait for the day to get over and for life to return to normal.

Nike started out deciding that he would enter the 30’s with a big bang. In an ideal world, he would have wanted to ring in the 30’s at Vegas with his friends. But its not an ideal world, so he settled for a road trip across Lebanon with his friends instead. Of course, as I am only human, I was jealous, and tried to encourage them to do said road trip across Germany or some such less exotic destination, but my ploys were in vain. But then all the upheavals in the Middle East began, warnings were issued, and the Lebanon road trip was cancelled (Let it be said on record that I did NOT rejoice; I felt really bad for Nike, and even felt as guilty as hell).

Then Nike made plans to go visit the UK with a cousin, spend some time with his brother-in-law there, and drive around the countryside. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out either. Undeterred, Nike decided on a road trip to Ladakh with his friends. By this time, I was skeptical of any of these plans working out, so I didn’t die of envy at the thought of Nike going off on a bike to Ladakh while I slaved away at office in the Hyderabad summer.

Ladakh is the sorriest story of all. Nike put in a lot of effort into coordinating among different groups of friends, and a group of friends finalized the Ladakh trip for June. Then, one of Nike’s best friends, A, said he couldn’t make it in June, so could they go in May instead. I warned that May was a dicey time to do a road trip to Ladkah on account of the road conditions, but they decided to go ahead in May anyway. Leaves were taken, tickets and accommodation were booked. After Nike reached Delhi (and was to set out to Kalka early the next morning), he found out that the road to Ladakh was blocked due to an avalanche.

His friends decided to go to Dharamsala instead, but Nike headed back home, deciding to save those leaves and use them in June to go to Ladakh. Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, none of Nike’s friends could do the Ladakh trip in June. The poor guy was so keen on it that at one point, he was considering doing the road trip solo, but thankfully decided against it!

By this time, I was being eaten away with guilt – I was envious of his trips and that’s why he couldn’t go, so its somehow all indirectly my fault, get it?. So I suggested making it a weekend getaway – but for Nike, it was Ladakh or nothing at all (and I couldn’t take so many days of two months into joining a new job). I even suggested a day at a resort in the city outskirts, but both of us aren’t really into that sort of a thing, and of course he wasn’t enthusiastic about it. And so it was that the birthday was going to be in Hyderabad.

The next tricky part was the gift. He wanted a camera bag! I couldn’t think of a more boring and forgettable gift. So I suggested I would enroll him for a two day paragliding course instead – he wasn’t enthusiastic about it. I then suggested buying him a guitar and enrolling him for guitar classes - he wasn’t enthusiastic about it either.

Two days to go for the birthday and no gift yet – I was beginning to despair. I then hit upon the idea of making a scrapbook. I spent the day reading up how to make a scrapbook, and then left work early that day, and headed out to buy scrapbook supplies. I spent the next day and two nights slaving over the scrapbook, but I had grossly underestimated the amount of work required for it, and so it wasn’t complete on time.

I had decided that we would have dinner at the Faluknama Palace on his birthday. The views, the setting, the service, the food – if reviews are to be believed, all of it is completely unforgettable. So I called many days before the 10th to book a table for two, only to be told that the entire palace had been booked out for a wedding! Damn it! Why couldn’t people get married at some other time? Why do they have to do it bang in the middle of the husbands 30th birthday?

The next plan was to send him 30 roses. However, on the night before the birthday, when a discussion came up about flowers, he said he didn’t like being given flowers at all. He said it was silly, and it was a waste of money. Now, I knew he didn’t care for flowers, but I had foolishly assumed that if it was for his birthday, he might actually like the gesture. But he was rather vehement in his dislike of receiving flowers and his opinion on their wastefulness (despite my protests “But you can put them on your desk!”) and so I hurriedly cancelled the flowers.

Anyway, in the midst of all this chaos and confusion, his birthday arrived. The mother-in-law baked a delicious cake for him, which he cut at midnight – apparently it’s a birthday tradition from his childhood and it made him very happy. The next morning, I wanted to serve him breakfast in bed, but since my culinary skills are very limited, I asked him if he’d enjoy being served bread-omlette with juice and the newspaper in bed. He said he would rather eat dosas at the dining table, and that was the end of my breakfast in bed plans – anyway, we woke up very late that day, so if I had made the breakfast, it would have ended up being brunch.

After breakfast, I shut myself up in the guest bedroom to continue working on the scrapbook, but Nike knocked repeatedly till I had to let him in and he ended up seeing the scrapbook without my completing it! He said it was a ‘lovely gesture’; and instead of being content with that, when I pressed him for more he added “Its rather like a child’s craft project, isn’t it” and then “You aren’t very artistic are you” and even “What is this thing on this page? Haha…that’s funny!”.

We then got ready to go out for lunch, only to find out that his parents had taken one car for the doctors appointment and the other car had been sent off for repair. We waited for well over an hour before one of the cars came back, and by the time we set out for lunch, it was well past 2pm, and we were both VERY hungry.

As luck would have it, we were stuck in a horrendous traffic jam, and reached the restaurant at 3.30pm. Luckily, the place was still open – possibly our only piece of luck on that day. Our drinks arrived and tasted awful – turns out, the bartended wasn’t around! Thankfully, the food was good, and we enjoyed lunch.

After lunch, went to pick up the next surprise for Nike – a camera cake! Getting the camera cake had been a major hassle – I had googled for and printed pictures of camera cakes, and then gone to three bakeries around town (and sent friends to another two) before I found someone willing to make the camera cake. So when we went to pick up the cake I was very nervous and excited. Thankfully, the cake turned out beautifully and even Nike was very pleased with it. Though he did comment that it was unhealthy and we shouldnt eat too much of it!

As we set out home after picking up the cake, we kind of got lost, and accidentally ended up in a one way. And promptly got stopped by the traffic police and received a fine. I wanted to tell the policeman “But its his birthday today!” (In case you were wondering, I didn’t). We finally reached home, Nike’s cousins joined us there, he cut the camera cake (which received much admiration from everyone), he showed everybody the scrapbook (which again received much admiration inspite of its incomplete status and gratified me sufficiently), we played Taboo (which Nike and his team won for the first time in the 18 months we have been playing against each other), we ordered in biryani for dinner, we played dumb charades in the lawn, and then everyone left, and Nike and I went for a drive.

After we came back home, I sent him a mail titled ’30 Reasons Why I Love You’. I assumed he would be touched and emotional. Maybe he’s respond with 27 reasons why he loved me. He read it and said “That’s very sweet of you. Now lets go to sleep”.

And thus ended the day. Next year, I’m just going to stick to a simple cake, and biryani for dinner. And the darned camera bag for a birthday gift!

P.S: Oh, and we finally decided that I would gift him a tattoo. It has him very excited!

P.P.S: He did mention that despite all the things that didn’t happen/went wrong for his birthday, he had enjoyed himself and had a good day. And that’s my reason #1 – it doesn’t take much to keep him happy. I should learn from him. Oh, and also, I told him I want to go to Paris for the my 30th – it’s a good 3 years away, but a little advance planning never hurt.


subbulakshmistoned said...

I love reading your posts! They always have a travel element in them. LOVE!
Belated b'day wished to Nike! :)

Preeti said...

Ha ha! I Rofled through most of the post I think! You are so sweet and funny! :D
Belated happy birthday to Nike! :)

Abhishek Ghosh said...

hahaha... very funny and vivid account. I myself struggle with gifts and fully empathise with you on this one. "30 reasons why i love you?" man that's hard work even if it's for someone as mild and easy going a Nike. Btw when did the horrible American habit of addressing husbands and MILs with a 'the' enter Indian discourse. The is for objects. Would you say the mother?

Ramya said...

@Subbu: That's such a sweet thing to say! Thank you so much :)

@Preeti: Aww....thank you! :)

@Abhishek: Well, yeah, by the end of the 30 reasons list I was just putting up all the little stuff also, deciding that this is as good a time as any to notice the finer details.
And I didn't know addressing husbands and MILs with a 'the' was an American habit. I don't find it horrible. And the isn't used to denote only objects, it can be used for people also. As in, 'the manager just came in to ask me why I was blogging instead of working" :p

Abhishek Ghosh said...

Okay the friend

Abhishek Ghosh said...

What i meant was 'the' is impersonal and lacks warmth which the husband at least deserves if you have not exhausted it all after the "30 reasons why..." list

Anonymous said...

That was an awesome post!!! Loved the entire narration of the sob stories, and also the cheek you have to want a Paris trip for your 30th after all that you un-wished for his 30th Ha ha ha :-)

Hap hap happy belated birthday :-)

Ramya said...

@Abhishek: Okay, 'referring' to someone with a the sounds alright; but it just sounds plain distracting when you 'address' someone with a 'the'.

@writerzblock: Haha...yeah, I am very spoilt that way, so get away with a lot. ;-)

Apoorv Gawde said...

hahaha. This is brilliant. I am sure that, though you make it sound funny in retrospect with your wordsmithy, it may have been frustrating to play out the day.
One thing for sure - Whether you possess artistic talent or not, I am now certain of your literary talent.


Ramya said...

@Apu: Oh yeah, while its funny in retrospect, that day was SO frustrating. And thank you, thank you, thank you :-)

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