And today? Is Vijay's.
I threw him a little surprise party yesterday. Or what was meant to be a surprise party. It was all neatly planned out. Just a few assorted guests, seven people were invited. They were all to assemble at 7 p.m. at our home and then jump out from behind the sofa when Vijay came back from work, shouting 'Surprise'.
Of course, that is not what happened. Because the husband, who was not feeling well all day, having returned from Bangalore in the morning, decided to surprise me by coming home at 5.30 p.m. - well before anyone else landed up.
I was shocked but with my usual presence of mind, I acted nonchalantly and tried to usher him into the bedroom. I realized he was slightly dazed and had a headache and thought I could put him to sleep before he noticed the following:
1. The drawing room had been cleared up and was sparkling clean like never before.
2. Zareena, who leaves by 2 p.m., was still in the house - as I had asked her to stay back and help heat and serve the food.
3. The kitchen was full of large dishes of food - Pulao, Matar Paneer, Dal, Chhole, Bhature, Raita - and an assortment of various drinks.
So he walked into the house and went into the drawing room - he looked around in a wondering manner and said 'Wah!'. He put his bag and laptop on a chair and I shrilly demanded that he not put it there and mess it up. He said 'Arrey, to main issko leke hi khada rahoon, kya?'. I realized I was not helping matters and told him to go take a nap since he was tired.
I tried to hide Zareena in the kitchen but she was hanging around grinning coyly. He asked her 'Arrey Zareena, tum yahan kya kar rahin ho ab tak?'. And she responded 'ABHI JA RAHIN THEE, JEE!', which really wasn't a very satisfactory explanation.
Finally, before I could stop him, he wandered into the kitchen and that's when it confirmed his suspicion that something was up. He smiled and said 'Y...what are you doing? What is all this?'. I went into a brief sulk that the surprise was spoilt but realized I could still surprise him by refusing to tell him who was coming.
And he was pleasantly surprised to note, when the guests arrived, that this was just not a gathering of my friends, but also a few of his old ones- I had sneaked a couple of numbers from his mobile phone last week and ensured they would land up. So at least there was some surprise element involved.
Of course, I had a lot of help from my cousin Karishma and my friend Vani for this. Karishma had picked up the most delicious chocolate mousse cake, and also this fun party game called Taboo - which we didn't end up using because the conversation followed fun and easy right from the beginning to end. This was a bit unexpected for me, because of the motley crew of guests - one single young woman, one couple yet to have kids, another couple (like us) with a young baby, and finally, a couple with one 4 year-old (who came dressed as Batman) and another on the way - all of whom who barely knew each other. But it worked somehow.
Vani, of course, helped me immensely by playing hostess whenever I had to run in to the baby, and with various other matters.
Sample conversation with her, when planning things two days back.
I dial her mobile number and wait.
Vani: (pseudo sophisticated voice) Hello?
Y: (rudely) Hullo? It's me!
Vani: Who is this?
Y: (annoyed) How many times do I have to tell you to save my landline number on your phone?
Vani: Oh, Hi ( voice garbling)
Y: Arrey, why do you sound so far away?
Vani: Because I AM far Away. In Bangkok.
Y: Oh. Well, when are you back?
Y: Good. You haven't forgotten about the party, have you?
Vani: Of course not.
Y: Okay. I'm having trouble figuring out a good vegetarian appetizer. Do you know how to make a dip?
Vani: A DIP? Yuckk! That's so fattening. I have a better idea. You can make a salad dressing instead - just a little lemon juice, honey, and salt and pepper. Much healthier, and tasty too.
Y: Okayyyy. Also, about the drinks - I think there is beer in the house, and some wine, but we may need some other...
Vani: Oh, I have a better idea for that too. You can just take all the alcohol that you have in the house and dump it together into a bowl and call it 'Punch'. Trust me, I've done it, it works very well, no one will even figure it out. Very simple, na?
Y: Okayyyy. But I was thinking since this is VIJAY's birthday, maybe we could get him something that HE will actually LIKE?
Vani (conceding the point, albeit reluctantly): Okay. I can pick up something from Duty Free then - what should I get?
Y (Uncertain): I think he may like some whiskey - but am not really sure which one - Black Label or Chivas Regal, the silver box one - I don't know anything about this stuff...either should do, I guess.
Vani: I have a better idea! I will ask Pranay to call him up and say 'Vijay, I am throwing a party, which whiskey should I get, and by the way, which is your favourite whiskey?'. We'll find out and he'll not guess anything!
Y: Vani - you're just full of suggestions (Vani giggles happily at the other end of the line)...unfortunately, they all SUCK (Giggles stop and abuse is inserted which I ignore). Just do what I tell you. Pick up either of the two whiskies I suggested - see which one has a better promo. Either should be okay.
(End of conversation)
I got a call from her later and was told there was an 'attractive travel bag' on both whiskies - I told her to just get the damned Chivas Regal, making sure it was 'the silver box, 12 years'.
Just to annoy me, she and Pranay kept telling me till the end that she had picked up 'the golden box, 6 years'. I had no idea they were hoaxing me, and I mentioned to Vijay before the party that Vani was getting the 'wrong whiskey, Chivas Regal 6 years only'. He said 'Ussko bolna chhe saal baad aaye' and I knew the evening was going to be full of bad cracks like that. Anyway, she got the right one, just by luck, and possibly also because of the 'attractive travel bag'.
Also, earlier in the day, I had thought we should do at least some sort of decoration so Vani and I had exchanged some SMS's on this subject.
Y: Do you think we can do up a banner or something, at least?
V: Sure thing! I will get the fabric colours on my way. Do you have any cloth at home you don't mind sacrificing?
I had considered this and volunteered the most sacrificable thing in the house.
Y: Yeah, what about Vijay's Banian? We can say something like 'You're a year older today - Yeh Andar Ki Baat Hain'
V: Ha ha - no problem. Just make sure he knows this was YOUR idea.
Y: It is a brilliant idea. We can all sign it for him. It's not just a banner - not just a banian - it is a BANNERIAN!
We eventually did it too - I looked through his underwear drawer, threw aside a tatty old 'Rupa Frontline' and selected a nice, white, new Jockey vest of Vijay's - and Vani decorated the front nicely, and we all signed off on the back, with silly messages like 'Vest of luck!'.
Before the other guests arrived, I was asked, rather rudely, by Vani and my cousin to stop looking like a Dusting maid, and to put on something nice. I changed my shirt, and was very happy to note I fit into one of my favorite ones from last year. They liked it, but then asked me to change out of my frumpy ankle-length pants, too. I tentatively put on a short, black skirt - it looked good but didn't feel very comfortable so I changed back. They tried very hard to get me to put on the skirt again, telling me to 'get out of that Pregnant lady mode now'. I gently reminded them that I had always been a frumpy dresser, it had nothing to do with the pregnancy. They started taking pictures of my bum, to convince me that the skirt was more flattering than the pants anyway. That's when I knew I had to put a stop to it, and I kept escaping them until they gave up.
So anyway, it was all good fun and I hope the pain of turning 35 was made more bearable for Vijay. Here are a few pictures.
Vani, using my freshly vaccummed Sofa as a stepping stool to the drawing room mirror to correct her make-up. (The Psycho)
Batman and Banianman - yes, he actually put it on.
Vijay feeding me the Cake after cutting it - yes, that is a very silly expression on my face.
And a couple of Peanut:
So I've been shampooed today because of tomorrow's party, huh? Okay then!
Look, Pops, it may be your birthday, but you're PUSHIN' it!
Anyway...Happy Birthday, Vijay! May you have many, many, many more!