– 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.
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!
I got a whole lot of gifts (lots from friends I originally made on the blogosphere including that lovely grey saree with the blue border from Dipali or Doosi Nani as she is known in these parts, THE MOST AWESOME book on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,