And Yet Another Birthday

Birthdays are a bitch. No this is not a rant about growing old and about the death of idealism —– for that I ask you to refer to my last year’s post where I tried to deal with the monumental milestone of turning thirty.

Birthdays are a bitch because no matter how hard I try not to get misty-eyed, my mind is flooded with memories of other December 30s when our living room would be decked out with ribbons, my uncle would be blowing balloons, my grandmother would be fighting with the Oriya “thakur” (cook) who would insist on adding an inordinate amount of spice to the chicken and I would rubbing my hands gleefully in anticipation of all the gifts I would have at the end of the day.

Gifts. Yes that’s what birthdays were for. By 8 o’clock in the evening I would start feeling jumpy at the late hangers-on as I kept looking at the clock with increasing impatience. Did these people not understand that it was now time to open my gifts ! Incidentally my parents were not in favour of opening presents in front of everyone, no doubt because of my expressive face which mirrored (and still does) my disappointment and glee a bit too honestly. Hence the wait.

And then sitting on the bed and ripping away at the gift-wrap with the unbridled wantonness of the desi male on his marriage night. Blessed were those who gave Tintins, Moby books (children’s illustrated classics), cricket bats, badminton racquets (together with what we in our innocence called the “cock”) and damned to the 10th circle of hell were those who gave shirt and trouser pieces (that too grey or white), Russian fairy tales and birthday cards that had “Happy Seasons Greetings” written on them.

As I grew older and girls pushed out the Famous Five and “Noddy and his gay times with Big Ears in the woods” from my life, birthdays became more political. No more inviting relatives. Friends were more the focus. And the special girl. What would she write in the card? Would it be lovey-dovey? Knudgy-winky? Would it be “simple friendship”? Or would it be the dreaded—” Happy Birthday to my best brother”?[ For all you young kids who don’t get what the fuss is about, we had no Valentine’s Day in those pre-historic times and birthdays were often the best opportunities to get the message across.]

Things however have changed now. Older and wiser, I am supposed to dismiss a birthday wish with a shy “thank you” as if any kind of attention is too embarrassing for an old fogey like me.

I do act “mature” of course. But my heart is not in it.

Because honestly, I still crave for all the attention and the fussing.

I still count the cards and the phone calls I receive even though I know this is “just another day”.

Yes birthdays are a bitch precisely because of this disconnect between what “should be” and “what is”.

Note to self: I really should stop making fun of Dev Anand.

67 thoughts on “And Yet Another Birthday

  1. Happy Birthday!

    Gifts and gals, what else one wants in life? Sadly, no more gals for you but I am sure gifts still make you happy. They sure make me go gaga.

  2. Knudgy-winky – LoL!

    You invited girls to your birthday? You rock! Studying in an all-boys school (& being pally only with the guys in our apartment building) it was only boys boys boys yeh paagal ladke for the buddey.

    You bring back memories of the Russian books. Used to be the rage in those days (the 80s in Calcutta). The same book would get circulated among all the friends on the birthdays. You have got to do a post on the USSR propaganda that used to circulate so freely then. There was this magazine called Soviet Naari (Soviet Woman) with the hot Russian babes posing against harvesting machines & tractors. Fascinating!

    Btw – were back-presents a common custom (giving the invitee a doggy bag with pencil, erasor, 5 Star bar etc.)

    My birthday is the week after next, & my wife asked me what I want. All I could say was not to tell anyone. Hate spending birthdays with people who have known me only after I turned 30. How I long for those days of youth. Sigh…

  3. Happy Birthday!
    May you get Feluda Shomogro as a gift!

  4. hey dude!!!

    happy birthday and a very happy new year to you.

    Damn… what a nice way to get a “happy birthday” from all your blog readers. Hopefully, get to announce my birthday too and all of them wish me a belated birthday (Dec 14th).

    Keep writing more this new year.


  5. Many Happy Returns of the day GreatBong. 🙂
    God bless you.

  6. Wish you a very Happy Birthday! Your reviews are simply out of this world.

  7. Aren’t inappropriate gifts simply killing? I remember throwing mild-to-maniacal tantrums on being handed gifts I hated and it can still get me depressed when people spend money on some rubbish which I have no use for. Maybe we’re just very mercenary, not to say badly spoilt.

    Happy belated birthday anyway.

  8. Happy Birhday GB. I wish u all the best.

  9. Greetings GreatBong! You are a treat to read.

  10. Greatbong,

    Many Happy returns of the day. I fuly agree when you count Tintin amongst the gifts that rock. As a kid, my parents forbade me to read comics of any sort, including Tintins & Asterix. So, for my 30th Birthday (yes Sir, 30th), I kept dropping hints to my wife to gift me the entire Tintin collection and, God Bless Her, she did.

    Archibald Haddock

  11. Arnab,
    Here’s wishing you a very happy birthday. When I was a kid, my parents had bought the full set of Tintin (secretly – and had hidden it in their cupboard)- and for several years, my sister and I used to get one for our birthday. Guess the pleasure of birthdays palled after we had got all the books.

  12. Wish you a very happy birthday. And a happy year ahead.

  13. happy bday GB.. may u have many many more!!

  14. As if by providence (it being your birthday) — the guest on Boogie Woogie Disco Special’ even as I write this is — yeah you guessed it right — Mithun Chakraborty!!

    Part of the proceedings was a performance by some kids on ‘GunMaster G-9’ pelvic thrusts et al. Then another one performed to Julie Julie, from Jeete Hain Shaan Se. MithunDa then enlightened the audience that it was He who suggested that Anu Malik retain his voice for the song!
    In the in-between gags Javed Jaffery asked Him — “what does ‘teri jaat ka baida maaroo’ actually mean?”
    “No clue”, He said. “It is from the film Ashanti, and you could ask Javed Siddiqui, the dialogue writer, about it.”

    Oh, while the final song was ‘I am a disco dancer…’, the winner was ‘Koi yahaan aaha naache naache’.

    GB, if your birthday cup ain’t running over yet — SET Max is gonna have a festival of His films ‘Lage Raho MithunDa’…


  15. @GB: Happy B’day dude. Tum jeeyo hazaron saal, har saal mein blog entry hon pachaas hazaar.

    @Haddock: I just gifted the entire Tintin collection to my Wife. She is a huge huge fan of Tintin. Tintin is the sole reason that we ever met (and I hold him personally accountable for my married state). It has been my nickname for a while now. Amazingly though, I have never read a single issue of Tintin.

  16. happy birthday and happy new year as well!

  17. happy birthday Arnab. Have a blast……you’re getting enough attention. 🙂

  18. Hi Arnab, SUBHO JANMODIN.

  19. Many many happy returns of the day! Age is a quality of the mind!!

  20. Happy Birthday !!

  21. Happy Birthday Great Bong :-))! Have a blast!

  22. Happy Birthday Arnab. Your blog is a current affairs wonderland.
    Don’t you worry about aging, remember Baba bole bau-ki tey-oh; Maa bole aoo kom 😀

  23. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB: Happy birthday and many many happy returns of the day. You wrote: ‘Older and wiser, I am supposed to dismiss a birthday wish with a shy “thank you” as if any kind of attention is too embarrassing for an old fogey like me.’ But we send you our birthday wishes with our hearts because we believe that no ‘kind of attention is too embarrassing’ for our GB as you have earned the attentions of your readers – adulation as well as criticism but attention nevertheless. Happy birthday again and a very very happy New Year wish for you and your family.

  24. 24 wishes, and counting!

    btw.. im 26 and i still keep track of all the ppl who called and wished me and those who didnt. and tally it with the ppl who called the year before and make my own mental notes. i know its a bit sad, but that’s how it goes.

  25. Happy birthday Bong-da 🙂

  26. I remember reading your last bday post as well… wow… I’ve been reading your blog for more than a year now hehe and it seems like yesterday!

    Happy Birthday greatbong!

    I luv bdays myself hehehe – but then I am still not on the other side of 30 😀


  27. Happy b’day GB…
    You certainly turned the clock back for your readers.
    ” ……And then sitting on the bed and ripping away at the gift-wrap with the unbridled wantonness of the desi male on his marriage night… ” ROFL..

  28. Many happy returns of the day, Arnab! May you have the best year of your life ahead so far!

  29. Happy Birthday Mate.

  30. Ah! And what do we have here? a Saggi? I should have known!
    [remember, youre being wished a nice happy birthday. No getting back with sarcasm. :D]

    Happy Birthday Greatbong! May your life rock as much as you believe mithunda does 🙂

    As for the presents, you could hijack your son’s or daughters’ presents and get them to believe that the presents were meant for you in the first place. After sooooo many emphatic ovservations and pondering over paaltiks, who better than you to know the tricks of the trade!

  31. pj, not a sagi!!! a capricorn………..!! hmmmmmmm, i always thot capris were pretty borin… mayb dey jus keep d fun part hidden…….. gd goin gb n belated happy bday 😉

  32. Happy B’day GB. May you become India’s answer to PG Wodehouse!

  33. A very Happy Birthday to you..

    EMC3(Another Ca-pri-Mate)

  34. Wish you a very Happy BirthDay..

    EMC3 – Another Ca-pri-mate!!

  35. Sorry..First time i didn’t see the message and then posted again and then now posting again..!!

  36. Happy Birthday!
    S dneom rozhdedia!
    Shubho janmodin!
    Janmadin ke shubhkamnaey!

  37. Belated Happy Birthday Sir. Your writings continue to inspire me(note, this is not the same “inspiration” anu mallik gets). Hope we will see even greater work from you in the new year.

  38. Happy Birthday! Keep Writing!

  39. Happy Seasons Greetings GB!! 😉

  40. Hi GB,

    Its been sometime now that I keep visitin your blog.. but sorry am quite lazy to drop in a comment! Indeed your style n wit are class by themselves n its a sheer pleasure to be readin.. So here is wishing you a wonderful birthday and a great new year ahead..

    Keep rockin!

  41. Happy Birthday Arnab… Keep Rocking…

  42. Happy Birthday Dood!!

    But I am amazed!! No board games like “56 Games in One” or Magnetic “snakes and ladders” or a small plastic carromboard?

  43. Hi Arnab

    Happy Birthday and great new year

  44. Happy Budday GB….and Happy New Year too….may rock in 2007….

    P:S No GB’s Best FIlms of the Year like the Last time???? ( Really looking forward to so bad they are too good section)

  45. Belated birthday wishes. And wish you a very happy new year ahead.

    P.S. : I have been a regular (albeit passive) reader of your blog since quite some time. Thought would change the passive part this year :-).

  46. Happy Budday belated 😀

  47. Hey GB, Wish you a very happy B’day and a prosperous new year. Your blog has always topped my leisure time surfing activities in the last year. Wish you all the best in 2007.

  48. Happy b’day GB! Have a wonderful year ahead.

  49. Thank you all for your wishes. A happy 2007 to all of you.

  50. Wish you happy and prosperous 2007; and a (belated) HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  51. As always, agree wholeheartedly. Janamdin Mubaarak!

  52. Hi GB!

    not your name but these two letters have gained a new meaning thanks to your writing.

    i just want to say i am one of those many readers who have read ur blogs and enjoyed them, but never left few words of remark on ur page. NOT because they don’t have anything to say, but just because appreciating u silently somehow gives more happiness!

    may the crazier, wilder, funnier side of ur brain churns out ‘craps’ that we have loved so much. 🙂

    more happy birthdays for you!!

  53. I love birthdays! I am 25 years old and I want my presents and people to call me. I never forget when people don’t call me and wish me on their birthday but am evull like that! :)..I can’t wait for the next one –

  54. Wish you a belated Happy Birthday, and a very Happy New Year!!! 🙂

  55. “And then sitting on the bed and ripping away at the gift-wrap with the unbridled wantonness of the desi male on his marriage night”

    ha ha.. priceless!!! 🙂

    happy new year Arnabda!

  56. Hi GreatBong,
    Wish you many belated returns of the day and a very happy 2007!
    So, double celebration for you with the birthday and the New Year just two days apart:).
    I don’t have any gifts for you but I can only send you wishes for success, happiness, good health and a long, long life.
    You should be happier now…on your birthday, so many strangers who know you purely by your blog appreciate your talent and actually wish you unlike those good old days with friends and fsmily. So, don’t feel disheartened thinking about those golden days:D.

    Lotus Eyes

  57. Belated Birthday Wishes, GreatBong!!!

  58. Belated Birthday wishes and a very happy new year.

  59. belated happy birthday
    and lol @ur note to urself!

  60. Belated B’day wishes GB. Have a great year ahead.

  61. ANd yes, Capri…not a saggi! 😀
    all ye december-born’s ……………………………………………………….!

  62. Happy Birthday Greatbong. 🙂

  63. Happy Birthday to you

  64. A very belated B’day wishes and ya, Have a rocking Year!!

  65. Sriram Venkitachalam January 9, 2007 — 5:06 pm

    It’s a bitlate, but happy birthday, have a great year ahead. I enjoyed last year’s post in which you had a IM conversation with your own past. Loved the honesty in this one. damn cool. it’s great to read ur stuff. btw, i agree, gifts are awesome at all ages.

  66. hmmm… ok now I understand why my husband looks totally expectant through the day, jumps up every time the phone rings and gets upset if I don’t give him adequate attention on his birthday. Born in a family where a birthday was really just another day, and very bourgeoisie to celebrate, and perhaps to some extent a foreign imposition, I never really figured out what the fuss is all about.

    After having read this piece, I will be sure to pamper him a great deal more this year – complete with ludo, special maacher jhol, chingri mocha gonto et all…

    thanks GB — fun post!! keep ’em coming…

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