Saturday, September 08, 2007


Let’s celebrate the blog's budday with one of those wretched personal posts, otherwise editorially banned by the manipulative trenchless people.


You spend a year suspended in a bubble suspended on the hinges of past. And, hey! Dude the needle goes in the arm not the bubble. Graduation day had passed and life played out exactly as it was planned-- Reality Bites’ script without eternal glory. Just low-paying jobs, yuppie vs. hippie debates, irreversible weight gain while Troy made it to a Chicago radio station, got a hit single, and went to the recording studio.

Nelly Furtado stopped being a funky vagabond and sold away composition rights to her Westside homies. Avril Lavigne’s IQ dropped faster than Dow Jones while Chris Angel practiced jeopardizing his career with another unbelievable act called Britney’s disappearing cellulite. Take That actually made it to the charts while Robbie Williams made rude noises from his fartbox. Nine to five was allowed. New boyfriends replaced previous specimens. Sweaty nightclubs were replaced with sweaty balcony sessions, dreaming away the future. Closest friends left town with my pacemaker and new ones were found in the Intensive Care Unit. Orkut disappeared and Facebook got third party applications that now cruelly remind me, and acquaintances I barely know that I am now, twenty-two tears old.


My first birthday was spent sitting on a dining table while mom cut the cake and all the kids in Mathura tore down my parent’s house. I had curly hair and big black eyes. The hair straightened out but the eyes still shine all black.

My fifth birthday was spent in Assam, getting clicked from my dad’s brand new ‘IMPORTED’ red camera, while I posed with my Barbie and an ‘IMPORTED’ Lego set, still packed and new.

My tenth birthday was spent eating chole bhature, salted potato chips bought exclusively for the birthday, and a huge black forest cake since Nirula’s was around the corner. I couldn’t wait for all the thirty kids to go home with their return gifts -- a pencil, a fragrant strawberry shaped ‘rubber’, a pencil box that proclaimed ‘Crazy about you’, and Nestle chocolate. Now I could tear open all my thirty gifts, which were, a blue pencil box filled with the above mentioned stationery, a lemonade set, a pack of handkerchiefs, a red umbrella and other ghastly crap, which would soon be passed back to some Chintu-pintu on his birthday.

I loved my birthdays only for the expensive fancy dinners my dad would take me on. I would wear my ‘Martina Hinges’ skirt, ballerinas, and walk into the Meridians or Hyatts, whichever caught his fancy, and eat dishes I could not pronounce. I pretended I liked shrimps and asparagus in my soup and ate my fortune cookie, shocked that they put paper in it by mistake.


Obviously, teenage years came and spoilt my party. No more burst the confetti filled balloon parties, but coke and ruffles parties with Backstreet Boys, Chumba Wumba, Ace of Base and La Bouche making it to the 2-in-1 player's list at the ‘club’. Matching steps to get-down-get-down-and-move-it-all-around with everyone screaming “You’re my extra seat” as no one really knew the word ecstasy existed. It got worse when the years passed, as birthdays meant treating everyone at Barista in your school uniform and playing video games till parents came to pick you up. And they wonder why teenage years are filled with Navy Cuts and fuck-the-systems. I was counting backwards, three-years from eighteen, two, one, hallelujah, comes eighteen.


Barely, out of school, board results had fucked plans of becoming the next Amitav Ghosh and the above mentioned teenage angst and issues with the system had fucked up parent’s plan of me following the glorious tradition of engineering based salvation. So we sit drinking the cheapest cocktail we could find during Happy Hours, assuring each other that college is going to be fabulous. And then arguing that one cocktail has rendered my friend incapable of safe driving but given the state of the eighteen year old Maruti 800 we were in, the alcohol was our best bet for survival and so eighteen was spent pretending we got drunk, when all we got was broke and cold chicken wings.


Then comes nineteen, which thanks to a brilliant little group of wannabe journalists who think deadlines are mere inventions of the state apparatus to control our mind and free ideas, was spent scraping together an earth shattering, politically sensitive and semester saving case study on the media prejudice against African Americans during the Civil Rights Moveme…zzzzzzzzzz. So while Ja-Rule was on a misogynist rant, and I critiqued New York Times editorial policy over the use of the word nigger as opposed to black, without much evidence, as the dust mites in American Centre had sent us running to De Paul’s, an uninvited neighbour boy sat patiently on my bed without any reason watching me say goodbye to eighteen and U2.


But of course, everyone has the one memorable birthday, perfect like a teen movie ending and fulfilling like Scarlett Johansson’s figure. Mine was the last age I had waited for, knowing well that after twenty, it will all be a downhill to thirty, forty and god forbid if all the carcinogens from KFC and Pringles, or mind-altering drugs don’t send me to my next life as a fish trawler operator in Chile, then fifty. After which I will move to Canada and live off their all expense paid social security system and free morphine.

By then, big dangly earrings, hair-cuts at Harry and Shanti, trendy shades, colorful bra straps, lesbian encounters, shiny new cars, hen parties were doing the rounds. But, wait, first I had to defeat a blood-sucking, Sudan plundering MNC. As my mobile phone operator had realized they had mistakenly credited 20 grands to my account five months ago and I had successfully run up a bill of 22 grands ever since. Long live sexually frustrated, Lara Croft loving software engineers in Bangalore who could not reverse this transaction and I threw away the SIM with impunity. Next, PP was left with a coconut seller and found later peacefully sipping free coconut water by the road.

Thirty minutes left for my birthday to end and the girls are busy heating the straightening iron and mother is frowning at our semi-clad status, when finally everyone is bullied into the car, made to drink cheap vodka with sprite in a hot parking lot and hook up with four, fair and handsome Punjabi boys in the elevator to enter the best birthday party ever. Of course black hip hop DJ boys from UK helped up drop it like its hot, followed by alcohol induced crying, one lost dangly earring, blood clots in three of the ten toes and lost innocence.


It will never be the same again. I knew beyond twenty, there was nothing to celebrate. Twenty-first was spent watching a man do a bar-top beedi-jalaile and racing to a mansion on the outskirts of Delhi with two boys and a girl I barely knew.

I grew up and I am glad I did. I left the city and the country for my twenty-second, to spend it with parents. Yes, there was a brand new iPod traumatized by some serious fondling, a single muffin dripping with chocolate sauce at midnight and happy birthday messages from my pacemakers, painting a permanent smile across my jaw, but there was also a fancy dinner with parents after a decade.

Even though I could not find the child-like innocence, I realized birthdays are meant to be spent with myself, waiting for the next morning to resume my adventurous and eccentric future. Umbrella-Ella-Ella-A-A-A can be saved for another day.