My birthday brought

– a missing OA (he was travelling on work), Cousin K who  was distraught that his sister was alone on her birthday and he couldn’t leave the college fest, an old friend M, who was a house guest and the kids! Cousin K came on my birthday eve and surprised me with a lovely blueberry cheesecake from Wengers. If you visit Delhi and don’t stop by Wengers, you’ve deprived yourself!

The kids went nuts while Cousin K and M tried to surreptitiously set up the cake  and light the candles. The Bean brandished the knife and almost blinded Cousin K (her other favourite pastime is wedging her fingernail between his braces and teeth and trying to yank them out) while the Brat kept blowing out the candles. Cousin K and M were only too happy to call me into the dining room and hand over my kids, the cake and the knife before there was an incident. There was another incident of shattered glasses next morning while I took my birthday calls but we won’t talk about that.

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The next day (my birthday) brought a bouquet and a cake delivered home, from the OA (who also bought me the gorgeous orange leather bag you see in the picture among many more gifts later including a sindoori red chanderi saree!). I woke up to a bunch of cards on my bedside table, neatly and dutifully written out by Cousin K on behalf of the rest of the family. One from my babies too, calling me the ‘Best Mum on Earth’. If only!! Of course he’d rushed to college at the crack of dawn so I didn’t get to thank him in person. It was a busy day work wise and I missed half a dozen calls thanks to being in and out of meetings, interviews and shoots.

After putting the babies to bed I took two friends out for dinner. Their husbands were travelling too and the Lonely Wives Club had a noisy dinner! The OA came home 10 minutes before my birthday ended, only to find me out partying!

1

I got a whole lot of gifts (lots from friends I originally made on the blogosphere including that lovely grey saree with the blue border from Dipali or Doosi Nani as she is known in these parts, THE MOST AWESOME book on FRIENDS from Simply Pallu, shot glasses from Divya) and here’s the funny part – mostly delivered or couriered! So I barely saw anyone but I got more phone calls than I’ve ever received, text messages, mails, e-cards and FB wishes. Technology sometimes gives you a happy day.

I thought I’d share one of my mails with you. Sent to me by OJ, a friend from my pre-technology days. Almost another lifetime…

My dear MM,

Welcome, you’re 31. An odd number, wouldn’t you think, to be written about? 30 is the big threshold, maybe even 35, but 31, that’s the “it” number, because it’s here that things get odd. And firmly in your thirties, you realize whoosh! This thing here is life and it’s going to stay a while. Now if you’d allow me the merest of moments to flaunt my 60-day lead on you (and also because this is a letter and therefore you cannot interrupt with a grumpy “I don’t like the way you’re sounding”), I’ll begin with my laundry list of dirty wisdom for the decade:

Oh sure you’ll get wiser. You won’t have a choice. Because it also gets shittier and you have to suck it up and grin.

You’ll get stronger.  All that baggage doesn’t get any lighter with the passing of the years, but hey, at least you’ll have the character equivalent of muscles to show for it!

You’ll learn to bless the plateaus. And, unlike the wild rides of youth, they’ll keep you on even keel and let you soldier on, on the days when you’d rather stay in bed and keep the sun down.

You will let go. And you’ll look at yourself in surprise and ask where MM went and they’ll tell you she’s on holiday in Sikkim. Let her be. Every personality needs a hammock.

You’ll look back fondly at the girls we were, all of 24, talking about the great loves of our lives. You went on to marry yours. I did not. Love (mush alert!) lives on, regardless.

If you lived your 30s in your 20s, chances are, you may want a sudden decade reversal. Permit yourself the impulse. Regret will only oxidize your shining heart.

Your mouth may stay shut oftener and your opinions will be kinder. Maybe you’ll be aware of more imperfections, maybe you’ll be too tired to take on the world, maybe you’ll realize the recipients don’t matter. But hell, when you let it rip, will you mean it.

You’ll grab the years greedily. Take them by the arms and go waltzing. Limbo is death. Take it from someone who’s been there, and still, in many ways, is.

There’s only this much others can help, you’ll learn. But it won’t be earth shattering because you’ll sing Gloria Gaynor if you absolutely must, but hell, will you survive.

You will give to the earth. And it will be due to your parents, though you will believe your children got you to do it. This, my lovely girl, is the decade when you will become completely yourself and those two fifty-somethings in the shadows are more responsible for it than you may fully recognize.

Your friends will be fewer, deeper, gentler. And the ones you hold on to through this decade will acknowledge and support your life choices. 360 degree turns included.

You’ll take more crap from the ones you love and less from relative strangers. And you’ll get surprisingly good at knowing the difference.

A style change will occur. Or an impulsive spin on your look. Flow with it or you’ll yawn at the mirror.

That man you married will move into his late 30s. That should be enough to have you bouncing deliriously. Newsflash: In their 40s, they get better still!

You may notice men more than you have. Don’t forget to share that good fortune with your girlfriends.

Your babies will hurtle toward the end of childhood. Have fun before the tweens, honey. And stock up on gin and advice for me. (It’s early days yet for teetotalerhood for the both of us.)

Political propriety is bullshit, you’ll realize. May you not waste time and act on it.

You will love your home. As many as you have. But knowing you, each one will be The Home and it will be your pride and joy, second only to your babies and the strong ties you have with your family.

You may become an aunt. Oh you’re waiting, aren’t you? Then you’ll want your niece/nephew to grow up next to your babies. May that will happen, maybe it won’t. But even if you do resign yourself to circumstances, you’ll always want it anyway.

You’ll pick fewer battles but will know when it’s war. And when it’s all guns blazing, you sure as hell aren’t going down first.

Some bones already creak. They surprised you at first, but won’t for long. Because your mind will always swing to Dire Straits and you’ll be the gorgeous woman with a full, lush spirit and smile fondly and amusedly at your 20s.

You’ll still be irreverent. Or I won’t be your friend. And we’ll swap traditions and invent some and then change them at whim.

And at year 40, you’ll realize this was all a load of crock, but what the hell, for the ride, it was all worth it anyway.

Happy birthday, my friend. Make 31 wishes and may they all come true.

Much love and plenty of hugs,

OJ

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38 thoughts on “My birthday brought

  1. That sounds like a perfect birthday 🙂
    Here’s wishing you a great year ahead!

    And thanks for sharing the beautiful letter with everyone.

  2. Awww.. that’s really meaningful and sounds true for the 20’s too except for the parts about a spouse and kids necessarily.

    Happy Budday MM, and may this year be as eventful and filled with happiness as the last was 🙂

  3. Awwwwwwww (at OJ’s letter)! That woman can make words her slaves and string them as she pleases, so that the story comes alive. Sigh!

    Ooh, and the orange bag is yum!

  4. Wonderful way to celebrate birthday. Of course it would’ve been awesome if OA was beside you, but then this is one year which turned up different coz he wasn’t but still you enjoyed. Those are wonderful gifts by your bloggy buddies. How faceless people become part of lives before we know it. And a beautiful and witty letter by OJ. LOL loved it. You got lovely friends MM, you’re blessed. Did you count your stars on your birthday?

  5. Dude I have the same FRIENDS book! I saw it in Landmark the other day and bought two copies instantly! (One as a present.)

    Did OJ write all that herself?

    Me: no perakath – i held her hand and helped her :p

  6. Beautiful post! Lovely gifts, and the grey top you wore for your birthday (I saw the pics yesterday) was so pretty.

    And your friend is so right! She sure has good advice, and I think though I am not 31 (I am more, as you know), I would take heart from some of her sound and perky take on life 🙂

  7. if you only knew what simply pally went thru to get your address – some people wield a wand of magic that wasn’t all apparent to blind ole me in the brief 15 mins I spent on yellow cushions in your flat when i dropped by with jedi. happy birthday dahling – fwiw. – dee

    me: 🙂 I heard, I heard. The OA tried hard to look innocent when I freaked out! as for those brief 15 minutes we spent together 6 years ago, I have to tell you *I* have never forgotten them. So about that wand of magic – you bet !!

  8. Happy Birthday 🙂

    Thats a lovely mail, and hope you made those 31 wishes, and here’s my birthday gift, wishing that each of those come true!

    God bless you and your family.

  9. Oh, and after all this, I forget to thank OA for allowing me to freak you out like that. Bad me.

    Thanks a bunch, OA. (Did you secretly wish to see that freaked out look on MM’s face too?) 😛

    Me: 😀 very funny!

  10. Its nice to be remembered and wanted na! that too on your birthday.. Especially when people take efforts to get things across to u as a surprise.. or go great lengths to make u feel blessed on that special day.. When u see the kid u took care of, plan such a cute little party and the pal who had stuck with u all along coming up with some words of wisdom..

    🙂 My wish for your Birthday is that u feel as blessed as today even on your 41st, 51st or come on we are greedy even 91st birthday..

  11. HB MM

    I turn 40 on the 2nd Oct.

    Cheers !!

    Me: Gandhi Jayanti?! Nice. And err… for what its worth you don’t sound old enough to be 40!

  12. Nice and wise letter from OJ. And she got all this gyaan in 60 day lead time? 😀
    Glad to know you had an awesome birthday.

    What is the Friend’s book? Is it related to the TV series?

  13. MM…I have one question…do you really see yourself being anything like what was explained in that letter 10 years down the line? 😛

  14. So THIS is why there’s a stampede on my page today. Ah well. *looks around nonchalantly*
    That orange bag goes perfectly with my pyjamas, you know. If it weren’t your birthday present and all….

  15. Happy Birthday MM! Your posts always remind me of my favourite joints in Delhi…I heart Wengers…no trip back home is complete without a couple of visits back to Wengers!!

  16. Pingback: Learning to be still | The Mad Momma Online

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