A Special Birthday!

I have never been accustomed to having the birthday bashes people often talk about. I’ve certainly seen (and secretly enjoyed) others plan the most special birthday bashes for their own self and their loved ones.

My story is a little (well, quite) different. Let me explain.

At school, as a kid.

For me, my birthday at school used to be bad news for everyone. The date would coincide with the final exams. Either friends would be up mugging things, for that special last minute effort, or be cribbing about the day’s bad performance. Back at home in the evening, mom would make special effort to cheer me up, by organizing a grand sort of party, with all the neighborhood kids getting the ‘invite’, and getting the most finger-lickin’ dishes and sweets that she could possibly whip up.

I’d also get the best of dresses to wear on the very day, (and I’m pretty sure I looked like a million bucks), and be ready and set to party.

With the exams looming up on the head, most of those kids would RSVP negative citing the same reason again.

I hated exams, and I was not too fond of my birthday, either.

At school, as a teenager.

Same story, but a wiser me, and a bunch of rebellious kids as friends. Who cared about the frickin’ exams ? Some of the folks did ! My parents were the ‘cool’ ones . I remember going out to watch ‘lion king’ the night before my 10’th class computer science exams. That was a big deal back then.

I understood, birthday is not great, or bad, it’s just some day maybe special to you.

And valuable friendships, worth their weight in gold, forged.

At college

College was the time when one gets driven to economy mode. This is the time, when one learns the value of money, in the truest sense. Frivolous partying gets totally out of the window.Β  There were also no exam dates during the day I hadΒ  er, “occurred”. :).

We, (3 people born around the same time of the year) used to club together our resources, invite the biggest group of them all, have the fanciest (a relative term here) food served out. The party date could be any weekend, convenient to them all.

The concept of “BirthDay” had so blurred out for me. I think I still subscribe to this feeling. So much so, that I continued to have this kind of a deal, even after college.

The 2 people : I’d like to do this again, can we?

As a young professional.

I like the well wishers, but my birthday would invariably fall on a weekday, and some of the really enthusiastic ones would wake me up at night, in my deep slumber. Despite that, I love them all!

New friends would get a little alarmed when I’d tell them I’ll celebrate the “event” on a coming weekend. I got quips like “Are you anti social?”, “that’s the weirdest thing we’ve heard”. All I’d tell them on my b’day night is … “let me sleep”!

There were parties, on the weekends following my birthday. I love those πŸ™‚, for I had them with people who love me.

This particular (the last) birthday I had ….

The last birthday I had was a real special one. I had recently shifted bases. Friends and family had been left behind, and I expected to get a good night’s sleep that day :).Β  The way I had always wanted it.

I called no one for cutting cakes with me, nor did I plan a night out of binge eating. Friends, of course knew better than to call me at 12:00 am and holler “Happy Birthday”. Then there are some, who never change. πŸ™‚

Any ways, I was surprised, and the there was a party.Only there were a few other people surprised as well. I went to meet a few college people. I did not mention that it’ll be my birthday, the next day. Actually, I chose to. I still cannot decide whether I did a wise thing, or a wicked act. The real reason is that I quite enjoyed meeting those folks out of the blue, was just engrossed in the conversation and throwing that extra info in there would have just made things awkward. And we split the tab like in college. πŸ™‚

There was a cake, but I only hear of it. Two of my really old friends got it for me, and I hereby publicly admit, that I’m sorry I did not cut it with you. I hope you enjoyed it. We did meet again for dinner the next day, and it was the most delightful of the places to be. Thanks again, the two of you! You’ve been like papa and mama to me. I’m so thankful, we got together, after 10 years.

I did get phone called in the middle of the night! It’s OK, really! Although I might have sounded annoyed on the phone, I thank you! And I got even by calling back very early in the morning. heha

My dad decided to surprise me next morning, and he dropped in for a quick visit. I was shifting to my house in the new city. All hands were welcome. It was so tripping that I felt as though I was never alone.

Another friend of mine, came over, and, all in all it was a pleasant birthday. One of the best I’ve had so far.

………………………………….

Now, that I look back, I think some one was out to surprise me, only I’m not talking of someone human.

A reunion, after more than five years – part 2.

Continuation from trip to bangalore.

It was raining cats and dogs. All of us somehow managed to scamper inside the peltering rain. After what seemed like a phenomenal work out, we settled into a small but comfortable dining table. So people needed drinks, and coolant needed food. We ordered stuff, and Jack Daniels tower and chicken sampler.

It was then that the mood was made (thanks to good weather and nice grub). Plans (as to what needs to be done later) were flying around. First we decided to swim, and then to go for a drive to some place called nice highway. Eventually, we decided to go to Mr. SS’s home and try out his “much talked about” cocktails. I was sure they’d be awesome, cause he has cooked for me when we were in college, and I was the brat. He was quite handy with horlics and tea, so we were shooting for his forte : “drinks”

Some shopping and after rounding up other people, we head up straight to Mr. SS’s house.

His house is beautiful.

Very nicely furnished, just as I would like to. I felt right at home. Nice and comfortable. He showed us around and he showed me his balcony that overlooked a graveyard. “Very interesting”, I thought, and soaked in the cool breeze that was due to heavy rain’s after effects.

I noticed an imported grill (the very expensive variety) lying around in the balcony. Now the thing about Salujas is that they love their grills, and no doubt, I was thinking in terms of cooking up some snacks while Mr. SS would whip out his cocktail magic.

This was the plan, decided by the moment.

We did our bits and pretty soon, had chicken, fish and paneer(cottage cheese) tit bits going. With nice drinks and grub in the house, the spirits soared really high.There were some old videos (ladiez sangeet), and nice old college photos that got us all so nostalgic and amused that for a moment, we felt (at least I did) we were back in college. Whoa. That video is worth some money now. For those who are witness to it, you know what kind of emotions it can evoke.

The talented people (we had a drummer, and a guitarist in the house) got to doing their bits, and they didΒ  their bits, told some silly stories. It was SMIT, after five long years and it was unfurling right before my eyes. Mr. PS, and UR jammed, and I decided to lend my vocals.

I must have gotten a little misty eyed.


Here’s a video people, a glimpse of how it was. First video job by me, listen to it with decent headphones, and not in office, please πŸ™‚


Afterthoughts.

All’s well that ends well ! There were a few hiccups too, specifically the misunderstanding wih Mr. AD. Just wanted to catch up, buddy. Rest was all loud mouth, you know how I am πŸ™‚

Mrs. AG : Next time provide us the pleasure of your own, and Mr. AG’s company.

For the ones who’d know what I’m talking about here : Yes, we(some lucky ones) did get to see the famous wave, by Mr. NS. Trip totally worth it. Enough said!

A reunion, after more than five years – part 1

I did some spontaneous travelling this weekend.

Most of the time, we make plans, try to rope in friends and people, and redraw the plans on drawing board when it comes to travelling. I decided, after running through an ordinary week, that I needed to visit this “so raved about” city called banglore (or bengaluru, to be politically correct). Anyone from banglore will just talk adoringly about it for hours, and I must admit the hype might have lead me on to having a certain set of expectations.

Any ways, I called up this college friend of mine, Mr. PS and told him I felt like dropping in. He was quite agreeable to the idea, and he immediately asked me to come on over, like this very weekend.The only problem, it seems was that getting tickets on such short notice would be quite a daunting task, and that “train”, my preferred way of commuting was out of the window.

Reluctantly at first, I got the bus tickets done. Now, doing an overnight journey, I prefer to have a good night’s sleep so a bus kind of loses the plot because of the amount of leg space it offers. Also the bumps in the middle of the road can hamper the sleeping prospects of many a sound sleeper. Me and a couple of friends have seen the tyranny of the bus. That in fact turned out bloody.

So I ventured out to the “hyped city” on my own, with just a bare minimum expectation : to meet my college friend, Mr. PS.

I felt so welcome. The bonds of college are thicker than water.

I generally would never have anticipated such a coming together, but it happened. Without having any sort of concrete plans with any of my other batch mates, me and Mr. PS decided to drop right in to Mr. UR’s crib. From what I have come to know, that seems to be the bangalore’s “party central”. I went in and I immediately realised, how comfortable, and big it is. Also I never realised it till date, but Mr. UR is a gadget freak of the highest order. I used to believe that I am on an extreme level when it comes to using, and possessing gadgets, but I’m merely a kid in the woods. I was awed by the droids, and the ipads, and the over powering bass ….. πŸ™‚ . Even the car’s woofer was solid. Just a little out of tune. I enjoyed the music (I think Mr. UR did too) so much that we managed to get Mr. DSG up to get a head butt with car’s roof ! I think if had it been a convertible, Mr. DSG might have launched into orbit. πŸ™‚

Mr. DSG was the biggest surprise package for me. This bugger has relocated from Gurgaon to B’lore, and all I have to say is, B’lore people, beware ! Be very very aware, this animal is most risky after the sun goes down.

Mr. SS, who visits Hyderabad often for reasons close to heart, dropped in to Mr. UR’s house, and so did Mr. NS. I think the writing was there on the cards ….. this house is going to be brought down tonight. 5 years later, the B-block from SMIT, ground level and first level, was assembling slowly but surely, and each one of them was equipped with certain weapons of mass destruction. πŸ˜‰

Initial hiccups due to lack of planning.

It was bright and sunny (read humid) in B’lore when me and Mr. PS drove up till Mr. UR’s house. So much so that I got fed up of the ride (and I wasn’t even driving). Really, I believe it takes a lot of heart for people in B’lore to keep driving. I guess that is why they seem grumpy otherwise. I’m beginnig to see a corelation between the badness of traffic and people’s mood. I mean, see Gurgaon, B’lore is like a mid point between Hyderabad and Gurgaon. The only saving grace might be the nice weather once one rolls down the window. People in Hyderabad seem the happiest lot, because traffic is much more relaxed. Heck even I like to drive in Hyderabad. I don’t think I have the nerve to drive in B’lore though. It is horrible period.

So, after much deliberating on weather to order in or eat out, we decided to go to TGIF, Mr. SS promoted it as his own venture :). That is where we decided to brain storm on what to do next.

Bringing on the good times.

Ever since I’ve moved into Malaysian Township, I’ve always wanted to fire up my kitchen and cook me a meal. Overcoming many a hurdles, like procuring a gas stove, obtaining a gas cylinder, I made it to the point where I could manage to make some snacks, breakfast and other absolutely essential things in the first week itself. But never had I cooked a meal. The reason ? Cooking alone is such a drab. Also, to make a meal, one requires small quantities of lots of things. I decided to play “the lazy bum”.

Then came the long weekend. The three day weekend, due to the south Indian new year. The one in which I decided I’ll stay at home and set it up, have the things ready to have my kitchen humming (or I could have gone to Bangalore). By the end of the day two, I had done most of that, and day three seemed like a perfect day to start cooking the meals.

There was an interesting set of developments though during that weekend.

  1. India managed to win the world cup on day one. (Yo… )
  2. My cousin had given birth to a perfectly healthy, and a very cute looking baby boy (Yipee… ) on day two.
  3. Day three was Ugaadi. It’s like a new year in South India.

By the end of day two, I was feeling so upbeat, that I decided that instead of having the kitchen off to a elegant but tame kick off, I’ll have it roar and start with a blast ! I decided to launch it open with a house-warming party which I had been planning around here and there. I invited some friends over.

In the morning, I noticed my in box had been buzzing with activity, and I was expecting a guest count of 10 people. Now the situation was such that I have never cooked for so many people. Also my last cooking adventure was a fiasco, and people wouldn’t touch my creation with a 10 ft. stick, because they feared it might electrocute them. So feeling a bit out of sorts, I decided to face my fears and do it. I could have ordered, but I promised these people I’d cook for them.

And I bit the bullet.

My plan toΒ  the day was that I’d get the house thoroughly cleaned up by the maid, in the morning, after which I’ll get stuff to use, eat and decorate. Well, that day being new year, the maid conveniently decided to take it off (I was not even informed).

Never mind, I thought to myself. It is a big festival. To have the show go on, I decided to do the cleaning myself. Never mind the increase in effort here. There was the point when I realised that water taps had also decided to take a break. When I called the Facilities, I was told that there was some repair work going on near my block. (I was the marked man for the day πŸ˜‰ ). With no definite time frame to have this work finished, my cleaning plans were thrown off track. I had to improvise, so I used packaged water to mop, and clean my toilets. Talk about vanity !!

After doing all that, I decided to focus on the main task at hand. I had to cook. I had decided to make “butter chicken” (A nice, spicy, rich indian gravy), for those eating non vegetarian, and “Kadhai paneer” (Cottage cheese in capsicum and onion mix) for people who were vegetarians. The ratio of non veg people to veg people got skewed big time to favour vegetarians as the new year was accompanied by some days called “Navratris” (Days of abstinence, Hindu version πŸ™‚ ) .

I went out to get the raw materials. When I got back, I realised I was running late by an hour. Thankfully, to one of the guests, I had specifically told to be on time. I knew for certain the others would be running late, so I wasn’t really panicking. So this person, Mr. R.A shows up bang on time, and I explain to him the state of my current affairs. He was great and kind hearted, and he offered to make some “dal” (pulses), which I had decided that I’ll order. He started, and I must admit, hosting a party is always so much better with a co-host (sigh!).

Cruise mode on

With the presence of a friend (and he knew how to cook!). The things began to happen, thick and fast. We whipped out the gravy for the chicken, and I started to progress towards making the cheese dish, Pretty soon we were from tomatoes and onions to nice smelling puree. Also, exactly then other people decided to show up.

I suddenly remembered there was no booze in the house. Since I don’t drink, collect, etc. I’ve once used Vodka to effective use as a cleaning solution :). (Yeah, I clean toilets with packaged water, so this should not come as any surprise !!!) I asked this other friend, MR. RK and Mr. AA to fetch some things and whatever booze for me. They also obliged (I’m so thankful to both of them). Soon we had everything rounded up, and the music playing loud and nice. The atmosphere kept getting better, and we all chatted up nice and easy. These people belong to the same college as me, so we had that bit of common ground.

House full of engineers ! yay!

Endnote

  • My nicely laid out table and make shift coffee table were left unperturbed. The conversation was so engrossing that people did not bother getting up to eat. In the end, I decided to serve them on the floor itself.

    Table laid out, before and after
    Dining table.
  • When the food was eventually dished out and sampled by the connoisseurs :), I got a major thumbs up! So much so, that I affected one of the vegetarian guy to try it out. I’m not going to let the name out here, because we signed a Non Disclosure Agreement. My lips are sealed. Another emphatic embracer of Navratri routine decided to chuck the concept and he went at the chicken big time. :). I think I’ll put the picture of what was there on the serving dishes. It’ll give a better idea.
    Butter chicken
    Saluja ka dhabba - Butter chicken

    Kadhai Paneer - Saluja ka dhabba
  • The dal was made with a technique which I was not aware of till now. Now I am. It was good. End result : that was polished off too! Finally, the ice cream brought over by yet another of the kind hearted guest (Mr. TP), was consumed with as much vigour as one can exhibit.
  • In the end I think, the party went off quite well. We bonded, had a good time, and left happy.

    The king of Good times

 

I had a good time. The house might be nice and ornate otherwise, but with friends and people, it really comes alive. Here’s hoping we have many such events in the coming future. Cheers

 

BTW