Thursday, April 27, 2017

Birthday Series: 13 days to go: From another point of view

I read this somewhere, a long time ago, and it has stayed with me ever since.

It's about this alternate universe where, when a child is born, they all stand around it and weep and wail. They pity it for all the pains and difficulties it will have to go through in this lifetime.

When someone dies, they celebrate with aplomb - have a party and all that jazz, because they are freed from worries and responsibilities.

Interesting right?

13 felt like a morbid number, so shared a morbid point of view.
It doesn't feel so morbid now, however ;)

Wrapping up with some unconnected art work 😁

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Birthday Series: 14 Days to Go: Gifts

Birthday gifts!

Anytime I think of birthday gifts, the first thing that comes to my mind is the vivid mental image of Dudley Dursley's pink face screaming "How many are there?", "Twenty Six?! But last year..last year I got twenty-seven!"

We may not all be that crazy or even close, but I'm sure we love our gifts.

Getting gifts for birthdays has been one of the oldest existing traditions - worldwide. Right from Jesus receiving His Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

Have you ever wondered why we get gifts though?

Why check a gift horse in its mouth you ask? Or gift anything!
Good point.
However, curiosity got the better of me. So I  went researching (Yes yes, a fancy word for googling), and I got 2 versions of the origins.

1. Some ancient Pagan belief that bad things happen most around big events, and big changes. The birthday being both - when someone turns to another age, they celebrate with gifts for good luck.
2. The second was a more psychological approach to it. Explaining that we humans are social creatures and gifting is the easiest way to instantly gratify someone. I agree.

Ah well, however way it came about, I love gifts as much as the next girl or guy. I sure am happy for this tradition!

Personally, my favourite gifts were when I was 17 and 27. Just realising that "7" connect there. For my 17th birthday, my mom convinced my dad that I was old enough to have my own vehicle, and I got a bike! When I turned 27, it's like everyone decided to go big. Someone dear gave me Twenty Seven purple gifts! Can you imagine that? Purple is my favourite colour, and he found 27 gifts in purple. My dad got me a laptop. Another friend was also hell bent on covering all the gifts on my list. That was one jackpot year.

I realised then that I prefer getting as many or as much as I can give back. Interesting isn't it? We dream of getting flooded with gifts, and when we do, we feel guilty. Humans :)

Have a good one!

Someday's Dreamer

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Birthday Series: 15 Days to go: Age

What's age?
Tis but a number!
Does it change the way we feel,
Act, or how we see the things we see?

It should?
Or should not?

I'd like to say that it shouldn't
I am going to be 29 in fifteen days
I don't feel a day older than 26!
Some might even say I look 26 (Others, SHUSH!)
However, sometimes I feel 28 (That's how old I am now)
Somedays I feel 40 (sigh, I know)

Twenty Nine
Long ago, when I was in school
I used to think that 29 is the end of it all.
That I'd probably be married, have 2 kids
Have a home and be running around like a harried lady
But I don't
And I see that women with 2 kids, don't run around like harried women
They are collected (mostly) and normal
I don't have kids
I have the same family I had when I was at school
I have no regrets for being this way
Wishes and dreams, occasionally

I remember this:
An Audi by 30
A house by 35.
Will I get there?
House, I don't know.
An Audi ... I have my moonlight (my hatchback),
And she's perfect for now.

Regrets? None

My dad recently turned 58
He's as fit as he was at 57, and 54.
But he's retiring.
Because that's the "Policy"
You can't enter school till 5.
That's a policy.
Mid-life crisis at 35

Numbers that mean so much.
29 - Last of the twenties
Last of the fun?
God, I hope not!

I want to say I wish I were still 25
Young and carefree, they called it.
But I'm happy at 28.
I think 28 is (almost was) an amazing age to be!
I travelled, I made friends and found something special
At 25 I wouldn't have had the courage or confidence to do the same
Or the finances ;)
I've also finally started saving
I love my job
I've tried so many more new things

Am I scared to step into 29?
A little bit
I haven't achieved targets I made for myself at school
Yes the family and kids one
Actually, I wanted to just have one kid by 30
I sometimes wonder if I made bigger life goals back then
And if I've lost sight of that, because of smaller gratifications now
Have I?
Many of my friends seems to be on the right track
That set track
I don't have a big entrepreneurial story
Or a social cause to own up to in a big way
As an excuse for not making it to my goals
I just have a content life
Of being completely true to myself
That I can own up to
In some ways, that's the best part  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Birthday Series: 16 days to go: The Birthday CAKE !!!

The birthday cake is by default one of the first things finalized when planning a birthday - Birthday dress & birthday cake - they're the basics. It's definitely in the top 5 even for birthday parties.

Why a cake? Who started it?

Word is that the Germans started the tradition of having Cakes for birthdays. Cakes by themselves - sweetened bread - have been around for much longer, and was also invented in the Europe. You know, the Chinese made the ice cream, The Egyptians chocolate so the Europeans had to give their two cents ;) With a tradition as simple and gratifying as a piece of cake ( 😁 ) I'm sure it was quick to catch on.

Birthday cakes have became a lovely part of the birthday tradition.
Even if one doesn't have any plans at all, and is going to be spending just-another-day , cutting a cake purely meant for them makes the entire day special.
Add a candle on top, and a wish to go with it; just knowing it might come true is a satisfaction by itself, is like the cherry on top. (Who knows, the cherry might be on the cake too *wink*)

I know that in India, the idea of a birthday cake is fairly recent. By Fairly recent, I mean it's only a 40 to 50 year old tradition. However, the concept of having something sweet for the birthday (and other special days and festivals) has been prevalent for a much longer time. So the cake fits in that category I suppose. And we have cakes now! I ain't complaining dude. 

In fact, I love birthday cakes! These days, there are SOOO many kinds of them!

  • The Pretty Ones 
    • Like the doll cakes or castle cakes
  • The yummy ones 
    • Which are all about the amazing flavours and icing
  • The photo ones  
    • I still don't get why people like to cut and eat their own faces on other birthday - but whatever works for them!
  • The innovative ones 
    • Which are not really cakes at all, but other things like - Kesari, fruits and what not - set up to look like cake. With a candle on it of course.
  • And, my favourite: The ice cream cake!!
    • Who ever thought of putting the three best things in the world into one is an absolute genius!
    • Ice cream + Chocolate = Awesome
      Cake+ Chocolate = Wonderful
      Ice cream + Cake+ Chocolates+Nuts = Mind numbingly brilliant :D

My first ice cream birthday cake was in 2011 when my sister made it herself with a crushed Oreo base and to-die-for Belgian Chocolate Ice cream. Till date, it's been the best ice cream cake I've ever had.
As luck would have it, she started a tradition that has continued for the last 5 years. (A little secret here - Last year, I made the ice cream cake myself for myself. Jeff was away at college. So it had to be done, and somebody had to do it.I'm cool like that. )

Over the past years, I've been blessed with amazing friends who've been darlings and made me feel pampered on my birthday. How blessed would one have to be when I've had not one or two but FOUR cakes for a certain birthday, and had someone I love donate a cake to an orphanage so more people could join the merriment.

I'm so looking forward to the cake this year. Hoping for another ice cream cake [I know I know - this is not subtle at all 😋 ]

I'll let you know which in 16 days!
What's your favourite cake? :)

Birthday Series: 17 Days to go: Pregnancy

Wha...wait! What are you talking about dude? Pregnancy is before the birthday, and even if we're talking about what exactly leads to a birth, then it's sex first.
-You might ask.
Why am I writing about Pregnancy though?
Because sex is merely a facilitator.

There is this beautiful line in my developmental psychology book, which has stuck with me. It runs somewhat like this;

"The woman might be taking her morning walk, the man and woman might be sharing a joke or even having an argument over their morning coffee, She might be sitting curled up over a book on her couch or dancing to her favourite song. She might even be doing mundane things like putting away the laundry or working on her presentation or driving her car when it happens - when one sperm makes its way through and fuses with the ovum - and at that moment, another being is created in this universe."

Pregnancy might be called beautiful, scary, stressful, and so many other things. To me it's magic. It's the part when a woman creates something so wonderful out of almost everything. She nurtures it, not know how it will be, what it will be, - just knowing that whatever, however, whenever it is - it will be hers.

I've had some pregnant friends. One of my best friends is pregnant, and it's all "It's the size of a bean now" "Its heart is beating now" "It's got finger nails now" How achingly sweet is that?

It goes on like "It's got hands and feet now", "It's eating food now", "It's got a working respiratory system now" right up until "It's got to come out now"

With a lot of pain, anticipation, fears,
Smiles and tears
A new baby is born into this world
Crying with all the capacity of its newly functional lungs
Held up to face the world
Then held close by the mother
To let it know that it's safe
on its birthday

With a soft smile on her face,
Someday's dreamer

Friday, April 21, 2017

Birthday Series: 18 days to go: What's so special about a birthday?


Just that word makes me sigh with contentment.
It's that one day of the year that's all yours. It's an event, your event, where you are the centre of attraction! All your friends remember you. Everyone's nice to you! Gifts, great food, CAKE! C'mon, how awesome are birthdays?!

Not everyone shares the sentiment though.

I was talking to a friend yesterday, saying I wanted his help in selecting a new phone which is to be my birthday gift from my sister.

He: I thought you wanted it for your birthday
Me:I do
He: So we have time
Me: Where? How?
He: Isn't your birthday next month?
Me: Yes
He: Isn't the phone for the birthday?
Me: Yes
He: So why are we picking already?
Me: Because it's for my birthday
He: -_-

Many people declare that their birthday is just another day. I do not get that at all. I have a friend who feels that, and I tried to force birthday cheer on her, but she just found my efforts funny and conceded to come to Subway to celebrate. I've kinda given up on her. Kinda.

Last year, I put my 50 day countdown for my birthday on my desk calendar as usual, and my friend (who is no longer a colleague :( )could not understand why anyone would start preparing for their birthday so much in advance.

So I decided to give this some thought, and figure out some root causes.

I've got three:
Family, Friends/ School & Timing

1. Family
My family is one of those families which makes a big deal out of birthdays. My mom definitely was. She loved birthdays and found new ways to surprise us on ours. We always had midnight cake cutting, and lovely gifts exchanged. My sister got that memo very late. However, being the youngest, she's had some of the best birthdays in the family - having everyone plan for her.
My extended family also all wish for birthdays. Our WhatsApp group is quite active on birthdays to be sure!

2. Friends/ School
I studied at an all-girls school. Surprise parties are almost a necessity. And girls being girls, and when just with girls, find no issues with making a birthday a huge deal. I have another friend who has a big birthday calendar on her room always and checks it every day to wish people. She also does ..or has done 100 day countdowns to her birthday. So you can hardly blame my 50 day one!

3. Timing
Now this is a big one. You see, my birthday is almost in the mid of May. It's bang in the middle of summer holidays. So there is the: "Yaay vacations are coming! Yaay, my birthday comes with that"
There is also that, all through school, we spent summer vacations in my hometown - which meant no school friends, and a different set of vacation friends, mostly from the 8 families that lived on that street or from the 2 other known families from the neighboring street. That's fun by itself, but it has a catch. Back in my school time (probably even now - not sure what kids these days are upto) , we all had uniforms, but, just for birthdays we were given an exception - we got to wear colour dress !
That was one glorious day that birthday girls stood out from the rest of the pack. *Cue: Rose tinted glasses with rainbow bubbles blowing around* I never got to do that *Cue: Bubbles break* Making this situation harder was the fact that my sister's birthday is in June, and she got to celebrate just after school reopened. She also got to distribute chocolates in class and bigger chocolates for all the teachers! I never go to do that either. My mom though, sweetheart that she was, did her best to recreate this for me - I've always gone around giving chocolates to my neighbours on my birthdays (back in vacation time, not now) and the added perk was that it was a holiday, so I got to be freeeee! (Probably why I still always take the day off on my birthday, heh) She also told me (once as I was openly crying out of jealousy) that my birthday was better because all the family got to be there, and they all gave me gifts, I could play with my friends, and we got to eat everything I loved.

Do you see the allure of birthdays now? Can you blame me for loving them so much? Or for looking forward to them!

18 days to go :D

I'm off to select the phone now!

Yours truly,
Someday's dreamer

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Birthday Series: 19 Days to Go: First Birthdays

Image result for First Birthday

Have you ever gone to first birthday party? And, while there, have you (tried to) hold the kid?
From those who attempted, some women might have succeeded, and others probably took the kid long enough for it’s decibel to reach new levels before hastily shoving it back at the mother/ father/ whoever/ whatever.

I recently went to a First Birthday of a family friend’s baby. It was a tiny thing, and hadn’t learnt to talk yet. Maybe it did, but it didn’t during the party.  It was buried in a bunch of red material – pretty dress it must have been, on the rack, I’m sure. The kid was lost inside that somewhere. But we could figure out where it …she was from the screams coming from within. It cried throughout. Too many people trying to hold it, it was irritated, unhappy and uncomfortable.

We essentially took a possibly happy carefree baby, and put it amongst a ton of strangers, in uncomfortable clothes just so we could all celebrate it. How ironic is that! In that birthday, they had not one but two pretty cakes. And, as the kid, who was finally coaxed to a whimper came near the cake, they burst a confetti blaster. That Boom was enough to set it screeching all over again. So brainiacs near by tried to  calm the baby down by bursting some balloons. Who in their right minds would think that loud unexpected noises would calm anyone, leave alone a tiny human being, is beyond me.

All the pictures had the baby caught in various stages of wailing. Much later, they changed its clothes and rocked it to sleep so they could take pictures of it...her with the cake.

I know that I’ve had a pretty fancy First Birthday too. I know only from the pictures I’ve seen where scores of people are standing around and my dad or mom are holding me. The cake was pretty – plain rectangle though, and there’s a picture of me blowing the candle. Don’t think I was crying too much there (either ;) ) .

For my sister’s first birthday, we had a Mickey Mouse cake. We had progressed you see. Apart from pictures of people, the most memorable one is one of her staring so lovingly at the cake. Many people might have lived and died without ever feeling such true love. Such was hers. That love affair lasted many a birthday (hers, mine, anyone’s with a cake;) ) However, the rites and songs had to be sung before the lovers united.

Luckily we’ve long forgotten horrors if any, that we might have endured during out first birthday celebrations.

I’ve always wondered why celebrate first birthdays at all. The babies never remember it. It doesn’t make them any happier. But now that I’m older and wiser (shush with all the throat clearing there!) and with many friends who’ve given birth, I get that the first birthday celebration is not for the baby at all.

After months of toiling away without knowing the difference between day and night, having to carry huge bags everywhere, having to ensure that most things are clean around the baby, and the countless other things that take up so much energy from the parents – and rendering them almost completely asocial, the first birthday, I think, is like their coming out party. It’s about the parents declaring to the world in style (and with a worthy excuse) that “We did it! We survived this!” and in the process letting their friends know that they’re ready to socialize once again.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Birthday Series: 20 Days to Go: How it all began!

Different people have different favourite things. Books, gadgets, travelling, pizza, bags, shoes! - those are some things I love, as do many of you I'm sure. And we all have those few things apart from the normal that totally gets me excited! For my grandmother; it's watching kids' game shows, it totally cracks her up! She'd be amused for hours. For me? It's Christmas and Birthdays! I LOVE them! They make me giddy with excitement. Not just mine, I love birthdays in general. I've planned awesome surprise parties for my folks at home, I remember badgering a friend's fiance (now husband) who I barely knew back then, helping (read making) him plan her birthday surprise ;) We still pull each other's leg about it.
So with 20 days to go till mine (yes I know that you see the countdown ;) ), and since I've given myself the early birthday gift of this domain - I decided a Birthday Series would be perfect! That's how this series started.

This post is about more than that though - this is about the day I was born. I love that story. It's been told to me so many times over all these years, that I've internalised it and say it like it's my own - Like the wee little kid that I was (I was wee - less than 2.3 kgs little) experienced it and is narrating the experience. Anyway, here it goes :)

In Tamil Nadu (where I am from, and where I am born) people go to great extents to ensure that babies are not born in May. No mean intentions there. It's just very very hot in here around then, and giving birth by itself is not the easiest thing to do I'm sure - and to do it at 40 degrees is no laughing matter. So back in the days when air conditioners were not common, people came up with a simple solution: Superstition! Just don't sleep with each other in the Tamil Month "Aadi" which is roughly around June and July, and babies won't be born then. [Later that superstition blew up, and they generalised the bad luck to everything, and that's why people never start shopping for wedding or important events during that month. There are also many discounts then because shopping was discouraged - so now conversely, it's become the shopping time. That snowballed in a zig zag, but that's a whole other funny story for later]
So my parents too, I'm certain, were subjected to this Aadi thing. They didn't have to be though, as I was conceived before then, and I was due to be born in April! April 20th or 21st was when I was due. It's still summer, but a sliver away from the hottest month and all were happy.

The lazy procrastinator I am (See I started WAYYY back then! No one can say it's an acquired habit!) or probably because I was a bit too comfortable in the cosiness of the womb, I decided to just stay in there. C-sections were not the norm back then, so they decided to wait it out till I was ready. I overstayed a good twenty days and came out in May. Yaay!

My mum being the eldest in her family, and my dad being the youngest, there was entire welcoming crew waiting for me. I was well rested (20 days extra well rested) though, so when I came out I didn't see any need to cry. I think I was probably happy to be out - mentally prepared and all, by then. Humans, however, and their need for conformity (sigh!) were not happy that I wasn't crying. (Can't a girl be silent instead of crying for a change? apparently not!) So they went into a hulla bulla over that and finally - a cough, a sneeze and some tapping later - I was crying (Who wouldn't be, when subjected to all those expectations right from the get-go?)
Then all the relatives came in, and everyone wanted to hold me! All grandmas and grandpas and uncles and aunts and cousins (I'm still not comfortable with big crowds, and now you know why!) Someone who was peacefully sleeping away in the womb being man (and woman) handled so excessively will obviously rebel. So I stopped breathing for a bit, to take a break from it all you know? Again they weren't happy with the non-conformity, so they put me in an incubator for a bit. After that, at least when it comes to breathing and crying, I stick to social norms. Most of the time ;)

With all that fuss and drama, I came into this world 10571 days ago!
And that's how it all began - for me *wink*

Loads of love,
Someday's dreamer

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The reluctant tourist

I might go to China this year.

I was really excited about the idea up until today when I decided to plan my trip beyond "Great wall and shopping!"

I was checking out places to visit in Nanjing, Beijing and Shanghai and I see an endless list. I was instantly transported back to the time when I ever so briefly lived in Korea. I wasn't touring the country, I was living in Seoul - at Gangnam. I was working there. I was cooking there. I was there without being a tourist.

I have been to many countries as a tourist. I enjoyed Malaysia, Hong Kong, and recently Australia even. I was satisfied just checking out the popular attractions, and possibly a tad bit more - but nothing else. However, today I saw the endless list of gorgeous temples and parks, and I was - in my head - back in Korea.

I had plans then. I had a list till the day I reached there. Once I did however, that list was quickly replaced by a map. I did that something I've always wanted to do; Just open a map, find a place to go to, and tick it off the list. That map was beloved and travelled with me everywhere. I was used to the point of becoming tattered and having to be stuck together with tape. It was used to the point of me remembering many parts of it by heart. My yellow map of Seoul, where the first cross was on "Gangnam Metro Station, Exit 7"

I remember one weekend where I decided to just get off at the fifth stop from where I got on. I didn't have a clue about where it was or what was there. I got off there, wandered the streets, chanced upon a fish market where dried fish and fish still swimming were sold. I bought a fight shaped snack (made of dough) and ate it as I walked along. I picked up a notebook from a street side vendor. I wandered till I found a park and wandered some more to find street performers performing there. I watched the best rendition, till date, of "Moves like a Jagger" there. I sat and clapped and enjoyed the show with the locals.

Another weekend, I woke up a bit too early, so walked around the locality where I stayed and found a cinema. I discovered that day that in Korea, unlike in Chennai, shows at different times of the day had different pricing. The early morning ones were the cheapest. I bought a ticket and watched a movie with just two other (very oblivious to the rest of the world) teenagers, trying to guess the story based on facial expressions and little Korean I knew.

I had gone for a recruitment drive with the team, I struck up a conversation with a girl who had come to attend the interview there. She didn't get into the company, but I made a fast friend! We went out to dinner the week after, and a Buddhist temple. She told that she'd been in Seoul all her life, but that was her first time in that temple. She also told me a lot about how common Plastic Surgeries were in Korea, and were popular graduation gifts! We also went some sprawling tomb sites right in the middle of the city. To this day she's my friend on facebook and Instagram.

I've gone to team dinners. That's common all over the world. A second round of drinks - I'm sure many will identify with that act as well. And then the third round, with snacks because it's a good three hours since that dinner we had. And wobbled back home, singing happily with a few colleagues in the wee hours of the morning - now that's a memory.

I made amazing Russian friends there. Who helped me discover that when it comes to girls and gossip, nationality knows no bounds.

Ah, those were such amazing days. What I've recounted here is hardly a fraction of everything that happened. And that's how you see the world.

Going to China and packing in three cities that seem dipped in culture within ten days is definitely a great start. And something I should continue to be very excited about. I will probably get there again. Right now though, I'm going to indulge in some wistful nostalgia and wonder when I'll get to live in another exotic country again. Even if just briefly :)