A (Birth)Day In The Life Of

17 Jul

So I had a birthday today. Not really, if you’re looking at the Roman calendar. But if you consider the beautiful bungle that is the Zoroastrian calendar after arriving in India, it’s my birthday. And it’s the one my family celebrates with many loud noises and jokes only they can consider funny.

I’m writing this with too much rum-drenched cake in me, so pardon the drunken recounting of the day:

Mom (feeding me cake): Now next year, celebrate your birthday in your sasroo (sasural). [Incidentally, she’s been saying this since I was 4. Or 14. Or thereabouts.]

Me: Is it still called a sasroo if there’s no sasoo (M-I-L) living in it?

Mom: Yes, it means your marital home.

Me: A sasroo without a sasoo?

Mom (keeping her patience): Okay, your husband’s home.

Me: Not mine??!!

Mom (trying to remember it’s my birthday): Okay! Yours and your husband’s. Your home together. No sasoo. No sasroo. Okay?

Me (smugly): Okay.


According to my mother’s accurate calculations and superior prior experience, the number of rice grains that stick to one’s forehead when pressed onto the tilo (kumkum tikka) indicates the number of children one will have.

“28!” she delightedly declared to my father today, squinting at my forehead.

Right, Ma, and Granny had 32 on her 79th birthday, but never mind that. Maybe other people’s babies are accidentally included in the count.


My cousin forgot it was my birthday. Most of my generation only remembers the calendar that they actually use. Or maybe it was because she was too busy doling out worthy advice over SMS. “Tie up those tubes!” she messaged. “Here I am, on my few days off, teaching Z to write ABCD instead of flying off somewhere!”

I’m wondering if I should’ve gently reminded her that flying is her day/night/weekend job, one she passionately claims to detest.


My mother’s assistant refused to eat my cake because it was soaked in rum and Thursdays are for Sai Baba, who apparently frowns on chugging a few. Dad launched into a history lesson about the Sufi movement and the need for alcohol to “Transcend the Everyday”, but I don’t think Shevanti the Poker Face was suitably impressed. She, like everybody else, knows that Dad doesn’t drink.


Mom (smilingly): Someone told me you’d get married at 32.

Me: Someone also told you 28.

Dad: Yes, yes, 28’s right. I think you’ll get married at 28.

Me: Uhm… you do realize I turned 30 today, don’t you?

Dad: Oh. Ahem! Right. Of course I knew that!


Dad’s been diagnosed with slight hearing loss recently. I can’t decide who’s happier about it: Mom, who can finally blare all she wants, or him, for finally being able to ignore all of it.


As a child, I was a perfect angel. Check with my brother, he’ll agree. When I was 10 and he was 5, I educated him in gory detail about a banshee called Bhaskari Bai who inhabited a hamlet near our native village. Of course, since Bhaskari Bai the Nocturnal Banshee was a powerful spook, she could fly over to Bombay anytime she fancied and hence there was no reprieve from her there either. All this, I solemnly swore on our religion, was absolutely true. The erstwhile Doubting Thomas wobbled his stick-like legs and crapped his pants and I rolled all over the floor, consumed in unshared mirth. Two decades later, an occasional steely glint in his eye tells me he hasn’t forgotten. (Strange, given that I’m the family elephant.) I’m so glad not many of you know I work with children.

Err… Good night, folks.

24 Responses to “A (Birth)Day In The Life Of”

  1. Piper.. July 17, 2008 at 10:56 pm #

    🙂 I finally found yr page through Diptakirti`s blogroll! I had been searching for quite a while. Would read yr previous blog quite regularly 🙂

  2. Piper.. July 17, 2008 at 10:57 pm #

    Hey Happy bday! May you always be in such ‘high spirits’ 🙂

  3. Aunty G July 17, 2008 at 11:33 pm #



  4. Pallavi July 18, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    Happy 30th lady… see you on the other side in about 3 years. And if you get married by 32 (or even otherwise), I might see some of those 28 children you’re supposed to have 😉
    Bring on the rum-soaked cake. I can’t wait until my friend gets me those precious liquor chocolates from the US.

  5. rajni July 18, 2008 at 10:39 am #

    Happy Birthday, OJ!
    And don’t worry Moms are “like that only”
    Mine went on & on every b’day with me stubbornly refusing until I reached the age of 32 when I finally gave up ;)& got married.
    And then it was the “when will I become a grandmother ?” bit.
    There’s no end to it but what would we be without our parents?:)

  6. Anindita Sengupta July 18, 2008 at 2:23 pm #

    Oh…I’m late! But happy, happy birthday girl and have a terrific year. 🙂

  7. Orange Jammies July 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm #

    Piper: Oh! 🙂 I’m glad you delurked on this one.

    Aunty G: Thenkyoo, thenkyoo, soon-to-be birthday girl yourself! 🙂

    Pallavi: I already have that many.;) Not biologically, but they’re certainly mine! And send me your address. My neighbor makes the best liqueur chocolates ever. 😉

    Rajni: In response to your question: Saner. 😛

    Anu: You’re not. The real one isn’t here yet.

  8. the mad momma July 18, 2008 at 3:44 pm #

    🙂 yes yes.. i remember the roman calendar birthday. you threw me off.. happy parsi birthday!

  9. Revathi July 19, 2008 at 5:36 am #

    OOhhhh happy Birthday OJ!!!!! Hope this is your best year yet!!!:)

  10. Orange Jammies July 19, 2008 at 12:52 pm #

    MM: Hyuk, hyuk.. I knew that “what cake?!!” was coming as an afterthought. :mrgreen:

    Revathi: Not yet, not yet! Soon, though.

  11. Dadoji July 20, 2008 at 2:15 am #

    Okay, I don’t remember the roman one either so I trust you and wish you well *eyes the cake*.

    My sis used to lull me with Phoolan Devi stories to make me have a nap in the afternoon or pretend to be dying just so that I would fetch her a glass of water. I still remember the terror. What is it about elder sisters….why are they all so evil, inhumane and insensitive?

  12. Amrita July 20, 2008 at 9:50 am #

    I’m with your cousin – if I were gonna have 28 children popping out of sensitive places, I’d get those things tied too!
    Happy Birthday – I baked a rum drenched cake of my own, completely by coincidence, and will now eat it in your honor.

  13. Orange Jammies July 20, 2008 at 1:25 pm #

    Dadoji: The answer to your rather naive question is this: So all the practice comes in handy when you’re married. Ask the Saint. She’ll confirm. 😛

    Amrita: Ams, my new best friend, did you say “baked”? Yup, that’s it. You’re my new best friend. :mrgreen:

  14. Abha July 23, 2008 at 4:03 pm #

    belated happy bday et all that jazz!!

    had fun reading this post!! 🙂

    and like my betta half, havta agree your writing othawise is way too deep! someday i shall learn to swim too! 🙂



  15. Orange Jammies July 23, 2008 at 8:40 pm #

    Abha: Good heavens, whatever gave you that idea? 😮 I’m as shallow as a baby pool!

  16. white magpie July 24, 2008 at 9:08 am #

    shucks!! you are cancer with the humor..Enjoyed this.

  17. Orange Jammies July 25, 2008 at 2:46 am #

    White Magpie: Umm..I’m not sure whether you mean I’m drop dead funny or whether you think that’s my star sign. FYI: It’s not. 🙂

    Suzy: Thanks, Suze. Miss ya.

  18. Suzy July 25, 2008 at 1:44 am #

    Happy 30th Birthday, OJ!

    In a mad dash right now but will be back to schmooze you properly next week. Just wanted to drop by now and wish you a stupendous day with your friends and family … filled with fun, frolics and much laughter.

    I hope this new decade of your life brings you everything you wish for.


  19. Dadoji July 26, 2008 at 7:48 am #

    The Saint, too, is an elder sis so you are not too far off the mark there. But having dabbled in psychology I am sure you know that one way of getting rid of fear is repeated exposure. The practice doth make man perfect.

    Evil didis all! Evil I say!!!

  20. Orange Jammies July 29, 2008 at 4:15 pm #

    Dadoji: Err..I’d say a little more than just ‘dabbled’. But yes, The Resident Shrink says you’re bang-on.

  21. Vidooshak July 31, 2008 at 2:00 pm #

    Happy Birthday? It sure sounded like you had one of a happy birthday. And with mom-pa like thatto banter with, am sure every day must be excrutiatingly happy!! hyuk hyuk

    Am glad you had a birthday. Finally there was one post from you that I could decipher and amuse myself with. Baaki woh poem beeyem sab Boeing ke jaise upar se nikal jaata hai.

    Still, a fun blog to read! May you write longer than Olive.

  22. Orange Jammies July 31, 2008 at 4:09 pm #

    Vidooshak: So let me get this right: you’re the techie, but *I* write in code? 😛

  23. damnhobsons July 31, 2008 at 5:02 pm #

    Happy Birthday. I hope the next one’s even better…

  24. Orange Jammies August 4, 2008 at 9:40 pm #

    Damnhobsons: With you around, it will be. :mrgreen:

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