I am a huge fan of Birthdays. There is no better occasion where you can let your loved ones know how special they are. Some times I am in short of money or time, or things simply don’t work out. Some times, I feel like celebrating some people’s birthdays, sometimes I pass. In any case, the joy of planning things, buying them, making them, organizing them is all very much exciting for me.
Yesterday was one such day. Around 15-20 of us had created a group on whatsapp and were busy planning the birthday of a close friend. The plan was to buy 25 different gifts since he was turning 25! We had to make sure that at least some of them were useful, that they were within our budget, that at the end of the day, all 25 did find their way to us and many more. With discussions all day and night, we finally made it!
These were a combination of useful and funny things. You can see the cover of a watch – the red one – decorated with bow. We kept an egg with a smiley drawn in it. I really feared that it might break, but nothing of that sort happened.
For a useful gift, since he is an avid reader, we decided to get him a book. On various occasions we asked him whether he had any of the things we had decided to buy him. We bought them only after we made sure that he did not have them.
Finally, Something I made with lots of care. As you all know, I love playing with colors. Since we had to give 25 things and one among them is a book, why not a handmade bookmark? I set to work yesterday morning and by noon:
On the front it says,
“Each time you open a book and read it,
a tree smiles knowing there is life after death.”
On the back it says,
“Friends, Books, Work
Books, Friends, Work
Either way work comes last.”
Neither are my creation. You know? From here and there.
After giving him all the gifts, we had some ice cream and chaat. I ended my day with a dark chocolate. It was a day well spent and ended well too when we all knew that he enjoyed our surprise.
You could use this idea for a loved one’s birthday some time 🙂
I am wedded to dark chocolates and all other chocolates are my lovers. Nothing can replace my love for chocolates. When I need one, I can’t rest until I get one.
My personal favorite is Bournville Cranberry, followed by other Bournville chocolates and Dairy milk fruit & nut. I’m not a fan of foreign chocolates unless, they are dark. 😉 For those who don’t know, I have read that dark chocolates can cure headaches. You don’t need any other reasons to have them.
I don’t judge chocolates by their wrappers. But the gold coins always excite me. I had forgotten all about these babies until yesterday when Anu (my best friend about whom I have mentioned several times) brought me some of them.
I have always admired the way they made the coins look real. As I child, I thought these chocolates might cost a fortune since they were made of gold. I used to open them carefully and save the wrappers.
Wrappers bring me to my weird chocolate wrapper collection. I consider gifting chocolates to be an act of love. When it happens to be Dairy milk or dark chocolate, it is the ultimate gift people could give me. Hence I used to save the wrappers of all the big chocolates.
Nowadays, I don’t save all. But when I want to remember the reason why they gave me the chocolate, I save them and keep a note inside with the date, giver’s name and occasion. 🙂
Chocolates have a lot of influence on me. As I used to tell my friends, a guy has a better chance proposing me with chocolates, purple flowers or anything related to Harry Potter. I said this around 6 years back and gladly, it still holds true. 😀
Like a bird that collects twigs and dried leaves to build its nest,
Like the squirrel that contributed sand and gravel to build the bridge for Lord Rama,
Like a spider that moves up and down slowly, weaving its web,
Here I am building my own happy place.
My cozy, warm nest 🙂
I would like to thank all of you, who have been a part of my world 🙂
My (Ammamma) grandmother is a very important part of my life. If someone asks me whom I love the most, I would say Ammamma. I have always thought about writing a post dedicated to her. But I did not know where to begin. I started writing a post about her once. But I couldn’t arrange my thought flow well because there were too many things to write about her. I wanted to write everything even though they were all disconnected. Finally, it became such a big mess. I realised that I loved her too much to write about her. Or maybe, I am yet to reach those heights where I could really convert those strong emotions to words.
In any case, this is my first post exclusively dedicated to her. Today is our princess’ birthday. People say that as we grow old, we return to our childhood. I have been seeing that happen. When she asks for more chocolates, when she gives that sudden toothless smile, when she cracks cute jokes and laughs, when she makes weird shrieks and sounds like little children to make us laugh, when she throws her tiny tantrums. But beyond all these, I realize how she is different when she takes a look at my face and asks why I look so dull. When she knows that we are hungry and in spite of her age, prepares food for us. She has been loving us all these years and I am awestruck when I realise that she still has so much of love left to give.
I don’t know if I can return all that love. But I can make her happy now and then. Till today morning, we were clueless about what to do for her special day. She was super-excited. Her phone kept ringing and she was being showered with wishes from around the world. It was on the spur of the moment that my sister and I decided to prepare a four course dinner for her. As soon as wew had agreed on it, we set to work.
To sum it all up, we decided the dishes, made a list of things to buy, communicated with Amma, bought all the necessities and set to work after lunch. Since all the dishes were new to me, I was a bit tensed about how they would turn out to be. By evening, we had completed half the work. And, the bell rang.
Ammamma has been hopeful that her son, my mama (uncle) would come some time soon to see her. They – mama, mami and my cousin – decided to come today and her face bloomed like that of a rose’s. Mami had prepared Momos and payasam and brought them along. So, we had additional dishes too. She joined us for rest of the cooking, while Amma soon came in with some more ingredients. Soon, the four of us where running around the kitchen until finally, it was time.
Ammamma wore her new aqua blue saree and needless to say, she stole the show! She looked like a lone fresh lotus in a pond. All commented on how beautiful she looked in that saree. It was such a bliss to watch her smiling and looking around like a child. God! i love her!
We cut the cake, and ate them all. 😛
Amma gave Ammamma a bouquet made of red roses.
My uncle who is a professional guitar player, sang some songs for her while he conjured his magic with the guitar.
We clicked many pictures.
Meanwhile, my aunt from The US skype called us to talk to Ammamma and she was thrilled!
After around half an hour of skype chat, we decided to begin the dinner. Our 4 course consisted of – Tandoori Aloo, momo and mint chutney (that mami conjured) for starters, Sweet corn vegetable soup, Chappati and Paneer Tikka Masala (Phew!) and Payasam and Orange delight for dessert. 😀
A while ago, Ammamma went to sleep and I asked her, “Did you enjoy the day?”
“Very much. I liked it more than my 80th birthday celebrations.”
That birthday was celebrated on a big scale. With so many relatives, programmes, games and cultural events. Today, when she said that, I understood that she did not have any other words to express her happiness. Hence, she compared this with something big. I am tired. After all the cooking, running around and post dinner clean up. But I am happily tired. I don’t even know if that makes any sense.
But as I type in these words with my eyes half closed, I have a permanent smile on my face. The bliss that comes with making Ammamma happy.
PS – I know that the images lack clarity. If you wish to see better images, please give me a writing job so that I can buy a camera with my salary.
Happiness is hanging out with friends, giving gifts and eating chaat.
As I mentioned in my previous post, my sister scored good marks for her boards and my best friend wanted to gift her something. The two of us decided we’ll buy her earphones since hers was spoilt long ago.
I told my sister that she & I would simply go to the mall and spend some time. She asked me if we could call G for a company. I said that he can’t come due to work. It was after we reached there that she saw him and understood that we had initially planned the evening together.
Though we tried to keep the earphones idea a secret, at one point of time, we told her that we wanted to buy her earphones. She looked at us shocked for a while, unbelievingly and after a lot of deliberation, we bought one for her. She was way too happy to say anything.
She was all the more spell bound when we suddenly decided to go on the mini roller coaster. Now, she found her voice that kept repeating, “You guys are so sweet. Why is he spending so much?”. And all I could manage to say was, “Have fun when you do.”
The next program was to have some chaat. We ordered cheese pav bhaji, pani puri & papdi chaat. I loved the papdi chat for its tangy twist. It was a crazy evening.
And the happiness of gifting and seeing the smile on the other person’s face. That is my favorite type of happiness. I love planning surprises and buying gifts. And so, I loved this day. 🙂
Happiness is weddings and being asked to be someone’s bridesmaid 😀
I have had many tiny & huge wishes. As a child I was very fond of pretty princess frocks, barbies, make up, long hair, nail polish etc. I was a typical girl and I still am. One of my greatest wishes were to be a bridesmaid. There was also another dream. In my childhood, it was to wear the princess frock. The huge fluffy, pretty, long dress with flairs. As I grew up, it changed to the elegant gowns. But in my place, I won’t be able to wear the gown at all. Not even for functions. Gowns don’t suit the kind of functions we have down here. So the only chance was to either go get settled in a foreign country, marry a christian or have a christian sort of wedding, or simply, be a bridesmaid. That would strike off two things off my list at once. The sad part was, I did not have any close friends who wear christians & who would ask me to be their bridesmaid. So this was a distant dream that I had written off until… I got a message today morning. A friend invited me for her marriage. And then, she threw the bomb at me,
‘And be my bridesmaid’.
My heart was beating like a drums set, my mind was racing and my brain was calculating,
‘Does she think that I’m someone else?’
While my heart was doing the pirouette,
Brain, ‘Did something go wrong?’
Heart, ‘Weeee! Weeee! Weeeeeeee!’
Brain, ‘Maybe she really thinks I’m someone else.’
Heart, ‘Gowwwwnnn! Pretty… long… gown!’.
Brain, ‘It’s costly you idiot!’
Heart, ‘I might go for manual labour – ploughing the fields and selling the harvests – for a month.’
Brain, ‘So she did call me, really.’
Heart, ‘Weeeeeee! Bridesmaid!’
That was the last pirouetting since my heart fainted due to overload of happiness. Hell yeah! I don’t know if I can make it to the wedding, I don’t know if I can afford the dress. But I felt happy about being asked. I had written off even the possibility of being asked. And when I know that it is possible, I feel happy. I will wear a gown, I will be a bridesmaid.
Not necessarily this year, not necessarily for this marriage. But yes, someday! 🙂
Have you ever wondered why people do what they do?
Why do we study?
Why do we work?
Why do we eat or breath or drink?
With each answer, if we ask the question why, we reach the destination.
We do all that we do because we exist and we have to continue to exist until we cease to be.
But is mere existence sufficient? Imagine your existence without happiness in it. I can’t imagine that. Literally. My imagination can’t tell me what would happen if there was no happiness. Happiness is the center of everything. It is everywhere. It is within us. All we have to do is bring it out.
If you ask 10 people what is necessary for a happy life, you will get 10 answers or even more. If you ask me, you will get an answer you weren’t expecting: Make lists! Those tiny slips of paper help you a lot. From reminding you things, to clearing your head, a list could do miracles. Take a few for instance:
A List of your closest people – So that you really know who are the important ones in your life. When you write down each person’s name, you deliberate on why that person is important. You are reminded of the times you spent with them. You might even feel like calling them right then and talking to them. To let them know how much they mean to you.
Keep this list safe and when you feel alone, try calling up one of them. Sometimes, unexpected people come to your rescue in unexpected ways. 🙂
List of Things to do – Do you want to make a trip to Canada? How about Kulu Manali? Want to try bungee jumping or sky diving? Skinny dipping? You don’t have the time or money or company? Never mind! Write them all down. Whether it is star gazing or taking a midnight walk, whether it is a big dream or small, write them all down and make the list.
Now imagine! You really did go bungee jumping. You get back home, take this list and slowly strike off ‘Bungee jumping’. Can you fathom that feeling? It is just an act of striking off. But that is a dream come true. That is happiness! 😀
List of your Friends – Not your besties. They would be included in the above list. By this list I mean those friends who come close to your besties’ list. All of us have such friends. We like them, but not enough to call them besties. Some of us, don’t realise or remember such friends. That is why we need this list. Once in a while, when you take up this list and remember them, just give them a call and you never know. You might have just regained a beautiful friendship. Also, when you prepare this list, you might know why you haven’t included a certain person. Remember? It acts as a reminder and also clears your head.
List of Things to buy – People talk about ceiling on desire. I more or less agree with the concept. But you know what is more agreeable? The happiness of owning what you desire. Saw that expensive shoes and can’t forget about it? Write it down. Oh well! They need not be inexpensive. Make list for those tiny things too. For instance, I have a blue kajal on my list. I am a bit skeptical whether the color would suit me. So it has been there for almost 2 years. Once I own it, my joy will know no bounds. Because I get to strike off one thing from my list.
It is better if you have small things in your list. You will find yourself striking them off more often. which means more happiness.
List of things that make you happy – Yes! 😀 Rain, music, friends, watching sitcoms, talking to someone, a color, food, chocolates, puppies, babies. Be it anything, just make a list. When you are down, go through them. You might have something in your list that you could do right then. You will be shooing your blues away using that list of yours. It is also a self help.
Lists never end. The types of lists changes from person to person. I can only give my ideas. Your needs are different and so is your source of happiness. For instance, I write and so I have a list of things to blog about. When I am in short of topics, I open my list and voila! I have loads to write on. I have a list of books to read, movies and sitcoms to watch. You could actually peep into another list of mine.
This might be a bit too much. But these are my ambitions and I am not ashamed of them. Whether I pursue them all or not, I will definitely try. And when I do, that would be my happiness.
If you noticed, we just made a list of things that are important to us (like chocolates :D) and also, some unimportant things (like friends 😛 I am dead). Whenever you go through these lists, you will remember some important goals, lovely people and life changing accomplishments in your life.
After a number of years, when you take your book of lists and go through them, it will say a lot about you. A lot! It will remind of some of your desires and experiences. Some of your friends and loved ones. Sometimes, you would read it with awe, wondering how you did all those things. Or maybe, it would bring so much of happiness because you know you celebrated every moment of your life. 🙂
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Here is another year and there are many events coming up. How about getting prepared for them from now on?
Note – Here I am talking about inexpensive gifts which are available for INR 300 or LESS. So if you are looking for higher budgets, I am sure you will have many more options.
I love Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Friendship Day and any event that I could use to show someone how special they are to me. There is nothing like springing a “Surprise!!!” on their face and see it go pale to white to pink to a deep shade of red with happiness! 😀 Please don’t be misled by the post title. I am not going to point out items to gift. I’m giving you ideas about how to find the gifts you want and how to present it to your loved ones. Some times, the gifts do not matter, but the way you gift makes all the difference. The sad part is, surprises are costly. Specially if you’re a student or are doing internship with low salary. Well, not anymore! I am always in short of cash (I’m still a student, you know!) and try to find new methods to throw surprises. So, here is how I gave some lovely surprises last year.
Flowers – I don’t know about all men. But some men and almost all women like flowers. When it happens to be your mother, she would definitely be overwhelmed. The amazing thing about mothers is that, they do so much for us. Yet, they need so less to be happy. This is how you make her day special with flowers.Buy a few flowers or pluck some from your garden. Gather little children from your neighborhood and ask them to give her those flowers one at a time. If she is about to go out, the kids could line up outside your house and give her those flowers as she passes by, or let them ring the bell one at a time and give her the flowers. We tried it and my mom loved them. She preserved the flowers for as long as they stayed. 🙂
Note – Flowers can be gifted to anyone if you’re sure they will appreciate it. I mentioned Mom because, we gave it to her.
A Note For Every Hour – This works with anyone. Prepare notes with quotes or memories or anything you want to tell him/her. Ensure that the notes reach them every hour. It would be a reminder of how special they are and that they deserve a full day celebration.
I did this for a friend’s birthday. I asked one of her colleagues to give her the notes every hour. I kept alarms on my phone for every hour, to remind her. Once the Birthday girl received each note, I got her message. 🙂
Common Inexpensive Gifts – Photo frames, Books, Deos, Diaries and Coffee mugs! I know. They are the most typical inexpensive gifts you can give anyone. If he/she happens to be a book lover, you can buy them a book that they would enjoy. If he/she has the habit of updating diaries, there are plenty of undated diaries available at reasonable prices. If he/she has a favorite brand of deo, they will be happy that you cared to remember. As for photo frames, find a lovely picture of the two of you and gift it.
Undated Diaries – Earlier this year, I had reviewed Matrikas Paper Products’ diaries. They have some elegant and creative undated diaries. The cover designs were so tempting that anyone would fall in love with them. They have diaries designed for all age group. If your giftee loves writing and maintains diaries, you can find good ones starting at INR 110. MATRIKAS PAPER PRODUCTS is their website and their products are available in Flipkart, Snapdeal, Zoffio etc.
Gifts Need Not be Branded – If you’re so desperate to gift someone something, that someone must be very special for you. Regardless of the fact that he/she uses only branded items, you can gift them something inexpensive for a change. After all, if they love you as much as you love them, they would get the emotions behind your gifts. Just ensure that you pick something beautiful even if it is unbranded. Be it wallets, belts, shoes, clothes or anything. You have a wide range of inexpensive things out there if you just let go of brands for once. Which brings us to the next point.
Lookout For Fancies – 2015 has just begun. You can keep your eyes open for all the beautiful and fancy stuff available. Last year, I did a lot of window shopping (Microsoft Windows :P) and found really pretty watches for just Rs. 300. There is no quality assurance or warranty. But once in a while, owning some random pretty stuff doesn’t harm. This friend of mine always buys quality and classy things. I thought she could do with some girlish, dangling, funky stuff. I gifted it to her and she loved it. Want to see it?
So lookout for the low priced pretty things. Even if the Birthday is a couple of months away, there is no harm keeping your eyes open.
A tiny party – You heard me right. If it is your friend’s, love’s or family member’s birthday, and you love them so much, you can actually give a party at a very low cost! Cake – If you need really good cakes, they cost a lot. And that was why, in my previous post, I had given a very easy recipe to make a cake. It’s out of biscuit and chocolate alone. Click HEREto read it.Lightings – You can prepare beautiful lamps out of orange peels. 4-5 orange lamps would suffice for the right glow. Here is what we made.
You can use the oranges for preparing any delicacy of your choice. 🙂 Decorations – Colorful streamers are always in fashion and cost very less. Just find innovative ways of decorating with streamers.
Maintain a Wishlist & Lookout For Discounts – I get newsletters from many shopping sites and I visit them whenever there is a discount. I buy things only when I am convinced that the discounts are acceptable. That is how I found some lovely sarees worth Rs. 300 in May 2014. I bought them immediately when I had the money and gifted it to Mom for her Birthday in Dec. Needless to say, I was in short of money in Dec. All who saw the saree, loved it & thought that it was some expensive material (giggles :P). Another time, I bought a couple of handbags for just Rs. 150 and they came in handy when I had to gift a friend. 🙂 So, add something to your wishlist and you never know, during the next clearance sale, it might just shoot down to a very low price.
The Age Old Custom of Group Gifting – You all must be aware of this. But now that we are talking of gifts, I’d mention this. If you want to gift Mr. A something, contact his close friends, and if they are willing, pool some cash and buy something really good. When you all gift it together, you not only give him the gift, but also an overwhelming experience with his close friends around.
Gift Some Time – Imagine, on an anniversary, the couples decide to take some time off and spend the day together. As a child, your parents decide to stay home, cooks you some lovely dishes and takes you out. When your parents are old, you decide to take them somewhere and spend some time with them on their special day. Time is very very expensive. But we can easily lend some to our loved ones. It is simple and means a lot. Do try gifting some time.
Time With Creativity – You have many DIYs available on the internet. If you have a flair for creativity (which I believe most of us do have), take some time off and prepare something beautiful for your loved ones. Your loved ones would value your creativity more than the masterpiece they bought at an exhibition.This is one such gift I made for my Best Friend. My first attempt in Paper Quilling. 🙂
There are many creative things you can make and you wouldn’t believe how easy they are. Bookmarks, photo collage, simple paper quillings ets are few among them.
A Letter – With the advent of emails, internet and social networking sites, the art of letter writing has almost vanished. Buying cards and sending ecards are cool. But writing what you feel about them with a pen on a paper in your handwriting, THAT is priceless! Take a letter pad or an inland letter and write about how special they are and what you feel about them. Get hold of their address and post it. I wish you could see the smile on their face when they get hold of your letter. It would be a perfect gift & a perfect wish. 🙂
A Book of Wishes – You can gift a book of wishes to someone close. It would be the compilation of wishes from all their loved ones. Let me assure you, it is not an easy task. Many people would hesitate to write. But five wishes could make a book too. Trust me! If a letter in point 11 could give them so much of joy, imagine the joy on receiving a book of letters! 🙂
If I were you, I’d plan in advance for upcoming birthdays. But since I am myself, that is what I do. 😛 I get super-excited a month before birthdays and make all the arrangements. Things don’t go exactly as planned. For instance, we bought sky lanterns for Mom’s birthday and it became the King of flops. 😛 All the same, mom looked flabbergasted after every surprise. The purpose was served and so, I really don’t mind. Hope this list helps you. Please let me know if there are more inexpensive gifting ideas. I exhausted this list last year. I desperately need something new. 😉 And while you’re at it, ensure that only I know the plans & not my family ok? Shhhh… 😀
Happy Birthday to meeee…
Happy Birthday to meeee…
Happy Birthday to meee meee…
Happy Birthday to meee 🙂
It all began with the wishes at midnight. After which I finally slept, though with difficulty. There were so many thoughts passing through my mind – my previous birthdays, the surprises I got, how the next day will be, how sweet of my friends to wait until 12 AM and call etc. And the most prime thought was, ‘Yayy! It’s my Birthdayy!’ 😛
When I woke up, mom wished me with a cup of coffee, followed by the others. My baby sister gifted me a pair of earrings. And guess what!? It was made by her friend. 2 months back she gave the order, chose a color combo I would like and arranged it. Isn’t that sweet? Oh, I loved it! 😀
Dad gave me some cash & asked me to buy whatever I wanted.
My Anne Cherian Thomas 😉 did call me as usual. Yes, she is my bestie. No, there aren’t any midnight calls during birthdays between us. It was there during the initial years of our friendship. But later, it was alright without them.
Later I went to a Shiva temple nearby. Mr. Shiva looked majestic. The face made of Gold just emblazoned the Shiv-linga. It shone all the more bright and austere with all the lamps. I stood there drinking in the beauty, spoke to Mr. Shiva for a while & got back home.
Now comes the dull part of the day. Firstly, I felt sleepy because I slept late and got up early, on top of that, I had my Financial Reporting questions spread before me. For the next few hours I scratched my head, stared at the walls & doodled on my book wondering why on earth those stupid companies had to amalgamate. :O Even if they had to, why couldn’t they just add all the items in both the companies’ Balance Sheet together and form another company? Why complicate life? :O
Sorry dear non-commercialites. I got a bit carried off there. But still, I don’t get it. Why?
Then came the lunch time. My chweet Ammamma (Grandmother) had prepared many dishes to celebrate this angel’s day *blush*. She made rice, parippu, sambhar, potato curry, pachadi and pappadam. To start with something sweet, she put some sugar in my mouth. And then I had that sumptuous feast. But she was upset because she couldn’t make payasam. 😦
I know, right? She is so adorable you have no idea. The entire day went by with her telling how upset she was about the payasam not being there. *Choo cute!!!*
Meanwhile, more calls, more texts, more whatsapp messages and facebook posts poured in. Oh! And I couldn’t attend few calls because of this & that. Sorry folks! I felt bad when I saw your missed calls. But the wishes have been accepted. Thank you. 🙂
Evening came & I had my music class. The rains, the cold & my birthday were all screaming at me not to go. But I pulled my raincoat over, rode my lavy, crossed all the puddles and went for the class. I was back by 8PM and after some loitering around, settled to study when the door bell rang.
I opened the door. But no one was to be seen. I took a step forward and people just sprang at me from both sides ‘Happy Birthdayyyyy!!!’. I first jumped, then stood there open-mouthed & gaping when my sister came with an all knowing smile.
Ashwin, Godwin & Blissen came in, unpacked the cake and placed it on the table. It took me some time to register what was happening. Slowly I came to my senses while they gifted me a bottle of wine. This was followed by a Bournville sent by another friend Varna. Both have a backstory.
The wine: I had mentioned a month back that I badly wanted wine. Earlier, we used to have it for Christmas. But it has been quiet sometime since I had. So a craving had begun for the same. I said it, forgot about it & here it was; my birthday gift. 🙂
Bournville: I love Chocolates. Like crazy! Most of my friends know that. My favorites are Dairy milk fruit & Nut and Bournville (Also any other dark chocolate). Just before I left office, many of my friends either lost a bet with me, or they had to give me a treat. Every time, I insisted on a Bournville. So, sure enough she knows I like dark chocolates.
After the gifts session, as usual, pulling each others’ legs went on. Should I mention that I was the scapegoat most of the time? I’ll skip that part 😛
Apparently, those guys were really hungry and there was nothing at home to eat. I made some delicious tea (Oh yes! They said they liked it.) and tried to keep them entertained. Soon, all sang the birthday song & clicked some snaps while I cut my cake. I hurriedly gave them some cake to appease their hunger a bit.
Meanwhile Amma swished her wand, converted the lunch’s potato curry into masala (Guess they didn’t know that). You should have seen those faces when I announced they will be having Masala Dosa. I swear I saw someone punch the air & say a triumphant ‘Yes!’ 😀 They relished the food while repeatedly saying that the sambhar was awesome & the Dosa was superb.
From somewhere my sister appeared and smeared some icing on my face. And I was like :O.
After a few more sessions of pulling legs (mine!) and some laughters and chit-chats, they left.
When I checked my phone, I had a voice message waiting. My friend Sharu and her parents (Yes, her parents :D) sang the birthday song for me and wished me!!! 😀 Isn’t that lovely?
That was one of my special days folks. Whether it is typing that message, ringing me up and telling me how much I mean to you, appearing out of the blue and ringing the doorbell, recording a birthday wish with the entire family, singing the birthday song while handing me the coffee, ringing me up at 11.30 PM with an intention to talk until 12 AM and be the first one to wish me, cooking my favorite dishes or getting a custom-made gift for me. Love you all for this love. 🙂 :*
Once again, Happy Birthday to me. 😛 Love myself too for this love! 😀
PS: Next time you’re planning to come home unannounced, let me warn you in advance. All the snack items here, finish in a jiffy. So ensure that you’re sufficiently loaded. 😛
List of closest friends… Check!
My personal diary. Rather, more advanced. One who knows my next sentence. Reads my mind from my face. Interprets my sentences the way they have to be. One who knows everything about me. Who somehow knows how I feel at times. And has got the right words to console me. During those lowest and most depressing moments of my life, he simply says the right things. And all my happiest moments have his support. I, being a person in need of that initial push, always gets it from him. When I venture into something new, he is there by my side, cheering me on.
A friend who goes not just that extra mile. But who would go around the world thrice for his friends. Ask any of his friends and this would be the general opinion anyone would get about him. I haven’t mentioned him before in any of my posts. But through the years, like ASB, GT happened to become one of my best friends.
I had been thinking of it for quiet some time. And around 3 weeks back, I started contacting his closest friends and forming a plan for his big day. I wanted it to be special, memorable with just his closest ones around. After a lot of research, I finally formed a plan.
Today is his birthday. I made it sure that he was reminded every hour of how special he was. I wanted to keep him in the birthday mood all day. I wanted to compensate for all the birthdays I couldn’t celebrate with him.
In the evening, all of us had everything planned perfectly. He has a bunch of handpicked friends (including me :P) who, like him, are willing to go that extra mile. And so, all of us equally rocked the show. His mother was overwhelmed seeing all this.
When he came home with a friend – who was playing his part well – he was shocked to find some infrequent visitors there. We, the frequent visitors were hiding. Soon we showed ourselves and he stood there speechless. He cut the cake, we gave him the gift, had dinner, had payasam which his mother prepared and yet, he was speechless. It was evident from his face that it touched him. That was our intention.
Special friends don’t spring up at every corner, every day. They happen very rarely. Such small surprises let them know that they are special and valued. I may not be able to do similar favors for him. I may not be able to be there at any hour. But I can let him know through such tiny gestures how valuable his friendship is. For a forever friendship. 🙂
The immediate road before my house is the most crowded one compared to any nearby. Today it is desserted. The rains have washed the roads & the breeze is cold against my face. Till yesterday the place that seemed cream, gold & colours suddenly looks stripped of all the gaiety.
There is a time for everything, for the flowers to bloom, the monsoons to start, the autumn leaves to shed…
…for the harvest season, the blossoming of flowers, the tiny hands plucking them, the making of floral carpets, the boat races, the puli kali, the arrival of Mahabali.
Onam has always amazed me for one thing mainly. Even the weather, trees & plants, the earth & sky, the sun & the stars seem to prepare to welcome the festival. The roads get washed, the trees & plants dress up & adorn themselves with beautiful, fresh flowers, the skies have the clouds and yet, the sun smiles down at the preparations.
It is not a religious festival. It is the state festival & that changes the way the state looks. It indeed gets transformed to ‘God’s own country’.
As a child I used to love making the floral carpet (pookalam) & there is supposedly a pattern for it. Onam is for 10 days in the Malayalam month of Chingam. The first day of it – Atham – is the day we start with the Pookalam or ‘Athakkalam’. This day, a mix of ‘Thumba’ & ‘Mukkuti’ flowers are used for the pookalam. The next day, the design is of two concentric circles with any flowers. With each day the number of concentric circles increases. On ‘moolam’- seventh day, squares replace the circles. The next two days’ designs continue with the circles. On the last day, the ‘Onathappan’ is placed at the centre of the Pookalam, depicting the legendary King Mahabali.
I used to take a beautiful steel basket & go out early in the morning in search of flowers for the Pookalam. A week before Atham I’d have noted the spots where Mukkutti & Thumba grew since they were the important ones ;). First I’d go there and pluck sufficient number of those and then proceed to others. All my neighbours used to let me have the flowers in their garden. If I couldn’t reach, they used to pluck some for me. The washed trees, the cool breeze, the wet ground and the droplet adorned leaves & flowers give an elated feeling, an excitement and happiness that only come with Onam.
After a round through the neighbourhood, I get back home with the basket full of colours & fragrance & start arranging them. Soon there is a simple & sweet Pookalam at our doorstep.
A visit to the temple, the sumptuous feast on banana leaf, the delicacy –Payasam – all follow the Pookalam. Groups of friends & family meet and celebrate the festival in different ways. The ‘pulikali’, boat race, playing in the swing, ‘Vadam vali’ or tug-of-war, ‘Onappaatu’ or the Onam songs, ‘Thiruvathira kali’ – the dance, ‘Uri adi’ or breaking the pot and so on.
The games, activities and the gaiety, cream & gold dresses, coloured flowers, the holy lamp & the happiness turns earth into heaven. The unity & happiness that existed during King Mahabali’s rule return every year during Onam. Maybe so they say he returns to visit his subjects that day of the year.
My heart was beating fast. If it wasn’t us… I couldn’t think of what would happen. The efforts taken – day and night, every working day and holiday would all be in vain.
The one who was announcing the prize was looking at the second pookalam & saying the words. Like she wanted to see it one last time before announcing the prize. Like it was the one that deserved the prize.
‘goes to… ‘
Ohh it’s gone. The prize is not for us…
‘Pookalam number three!!!’
It took a second for me to register the fact that we! We had got the first prize. For, there were indications which said we wouldn’t. Besides, we werent satisfied with our performance. Two rows of students got up, showered handful of flowers around , cheered, screamed, jumped, shook hands, threw up anything and everything they could get their hands on.
‘I request the team leaders to come and collect the trophy.’
Few of us went & collected the prize & then it was celebration.
The one line we craved for, ‘The first prize goes to…’, the moment when the prize was collected, it was all too quick. But the efforts taken by the whole team was remarkable. Strategy, hardwork & teamwork, has always led to amazing results.
There were five pookalams totally. Each one of them was beautiful in their own way and I know each of the teams have their own stories of hard work & perseverance. So do we;
Strategies are never meant to be discussed. 😉
Hard work & Teamwork. There were many who volunteered to take up each work, many who accepted the work they were allotted. Many who gave their ideas, suggestions & corrections required. To start with, the design. We had expert opinions on it. Our ex-seniors in spite of their tight schedule took time to help us out. The flowers were arranged & the responsibility for it was taken by one. He was out day & night giving informations on it. There were two who managed the overall arrangements, making sure everything was fine & in place. There was our accounts & measurement section too. He would have been bugged up of me. The changes I kept bringing in… 😀
A whole set of people stayed overnight for taking care of cutting the flowers, two of us carried on with the strategies (unspeakable) ;), there was one in charge of arranging the side attachments to pookalam & many who contributed for that.
The whole day we had a team ever ready to supply us with the unending flow of flowers – beautifully cut according to our requirements, with patience. If not for them, none of this would have worked. Last year and this year, we won the first and I doubt we would have got that, if they weren’t there. A set of flowers were even sent back to be cut into smaller pieces & without hesitation or a word to blame, in seconds they gave us what we had asked for.
This year we faced additional challenges due to lack of time. The designs were changed, decisions were made in seconds & the team was working along another direction which was unanticipated.
The flexibility was charming. Like one mind, all tuned to the change without questions & kept continuing their work even at the last moment.
All the complications happened during the last ten minutes due to which it has its own flaws. We are well aware of our flaws and accept it with all the humility. Yet however imperfect it may seem, we are proud of the outcome – A pretty design, united minds and A Happy Onam. 🙂
PS: This post I wrote because I was inspired by the unity. I haven’t seen this kind of unity much & I pray that this remains always.
PPS: Noticed the lavender portion on the pookalam? Pretty na!? 😛