भारत में मेरा जन्मदिन – my birthday in india

There’s so much to catch up on. I started taking notes because I knew I would forget all of the amazing things that have happened throughout my birthday weekend. I’m jumping back and forth, so please try to follow the chain of events; but even if you can’t, you’ll get the general idea.
My birthday started on Friday when I was expecting some sort of present in the mail (early from a friend in the US) I didn’t get anything and said something to my coworkers. Two hours later they walked into the office from a long lunch break. I came back from the other side of the office to find a gift on my desk. Gifts are not everything, in fact, I don’t really like getting gifts from folks or even giving them for that matter, for events. I like giving and getting because they match me or the other person. This just happened to work. It was a very sweet gesture (and the gifts of earrings and a beautiful notebook, matched me perfectly). This is where it began, where I began to feel as if this was home and I have some really great people here. I took the train with a friend of mine, a traveling buddy, to Mumbai. My friends who I haven’t seen in almost a month greeted me so nicely except for when they yelled at me for staying away for so long. I stayed with one friend for the weekend. It was great. In capoeira, a chunck of people were missing because they were in a Bollywood music video with a pretty famous (if not one of the most famous) Bollywod actors. I figure, if you have to miss your friend’s birthday, shooting a part of a Bollywood movie is a good excuse. The class was small but mighty and I had a great parabens roda (birthday roda where you play with everyone). I was happy to feel that I was somewhat more in shape than I was the last time I visited. I can attribute this to my classes (which are going so amazingly by the way). I’ve been meaning to post about them, but it’s just going to have to wait for the next time.
I’ll take this moment to speak about birthdays in India. The first and greatest difference is that when it’s your birthday, you’re the one who treats everyone. You buy your own cake (or sweets) and you’re the one who treats everyone to dinner or whatever activity you have. I bought my cake (and felt strange for doing so). In Guatemala on your birthday you take a bite out of your cake before it gets cut. In India, you cut the cake and people feed you. The similarity is that everyone’s objective is to get cake all over your face. Here they take the pieces they feed you and just stuff it in your mouth and then all over your face. This happened to me four times! It was done with love though, so I didn’t mind. It also makes me feel young, this isn’t something people my age do…but we do.
After class a few of us went to a friend’s house where we just hung out. It was great. I miss those friends and realized how nice it is to go back to something great. It also made me miss my home, home friends. My friend Priya and I had a conversation about which home I talk about when I talk about home. Home is her home (as I stay there often when I come to Mumbai), home is Mumbai because it’s just my second home in India, home is Pune, home is home, home (indicated by the double use of the word home). On Sunday we went for coffee and cupcakes and then I headed back to Pune again with my travel buddy. Garauv and I met on a bus ride from Mumbai to Pune once, spoke the whole way, and kept in touch. It’s nice having a travel buddy.
Coming back from Mumbai to Pune I could feel the temperature change, the climate change and my body cooling down. Mumbai is so hot. I almost forgot how hot it was there, or just assumed that the temperature there changed as Pune has cooled down significantly since the rains started. Mumbai is just hot; I don’t think that ever changes.
I got back to Pune, changed my clothes and headed out to the salsa night. I promised some friends I would go, and I figured that it’s my birthday weekend so I had to be social. It was a great time. Friends who I had just met (not more then a few months old friendships) greeted me warmly and said things like, “Hey it’s the birthday girl.” When the party was over they refused to leave me before midnight and we went to a restaurant where we got banana splits and chai. I even got some ice cream spread across my face. It was a memorable evening to say the least. It was then that I realized I’m so blessed (and I don’t use that word lightly) to have so many amazing friends all over the world who are just great people.
On Monday I went to one of my favorite centers (although they’re all one of my favorite centers) and spent some time with the kids and two of the teachers. The kids were warm with their birthday wishes, in the form of, “many happy returns on your birthday.” I got a huge card and some hugs and pictures. I provided them with little candies. At work I was all smiles, getting phone calls every few minutes from everyone. It was a great feeling. How can one feel homesick at a time when everyone makes you feel so at home?
I left work, napped in preparation of the evening ahead, and took off to my capoeira class where I have a large majority of my closest friends in Pune. Those who aren’t in the class, came to class anyway so that they could join in the festivities of the evening. It was a dry day (a dry day meaning that no where serves alcohol). So instead we ate yummy food, had a hookah, and enjoyed each other’s company. My friend Shweta took the liberty of getting a cake and then smearing it all over my face. It was the final cake face for the year and it was the biggest smear. I really felt like home on this evening. The only thing I could keep thinking to myself was how lucky I am that even half way across the world from home, home, I can have such great people who surround me. I feel just like a big warm fuzzy all over me. So, I just want say thanks to everyone for making me feel so amazing and loved. It’s the best feeling in the world.

Here are some pictures:

    • betsym
    • July 14th, 2011

    Love it!!! Sounds like a better birthday than you woulda had here in NYC! You are SOOO popular! The only thing I don’t love is the hookah- those things are like smoking 1000 cigarettes in one sitting, and all those chemmy chemicals that make it taste good and what happens when they burn—- Noooo!! Ok, lecture over, I love you!

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