Thanks for all the sweet birthday greetings, everyone! It's been great fun opening my email the last few days, with dozens of birthday greetings from all over the world and extra helpings of comments in the blog.
My birthday started out peacefully enough. I woke up early and made myself a cup of DUNKIN' DONUT coffee; yes, imported all the way from California, courtesy of my little sister (thanks Eva, a very fine birthday gift indeed!). Sat on my front porch swing and watched the birds play in the garden as I ate breakfast. Chitra and Suresh stopped by with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a pair of shiny new silver anklets.
Once I got to work though, things turned into one big hectic blur. I felt like a starlet when every single one of the 180+ people in the office stopped by my desk to shake hands and convey birthday greetings. The birthday tradition here is that it's the birthday person who provides the treats for everyone else, so I was ready with several buckets full of cookies, which I distributed to each hand-shaker. A huge homemade birthday card was attached to the wall at the entrance of the building, which everyone signed. A birthday cake (courtesy of Ranga) was delivered to my desk; a second one appeared at lunch. Another huge bouquet of fresh flowers from some work mates, this time yellow roses. A gorgeous silver bracelet to add to the collection on my arms. Several renditions of Happy Birthday and Sto Lat, the Polish equivalent which I had taught to my traveling companions last weekend on our 12-hour journey to Kodaikanal.
At lunch time, a group of about a dozen of us went to a restaurant that I hadn't been to before (but will almost certainly go back to soon). It was an all-you-can-eat buffet, so we all stuffed ourselves royally, with me topping things off with some very yummy mango ice cream.
In addition to shaking 180 hands, I also had a training session and a conference call with Rochester scheduled that day, so it turned out to be one very hectic day. As many Indians do on special occasions such as birthdays, I stopped at a temple on my way home, the same temple that I visited on the anniversary of my mom's death. By the end of the day, I was exhausted! (I think I must be showing my age...)
The only minor glitch to the day was coming home to find that the electricity in most of my house was out, again. Fortunately, the air conditioner was one of the few things still working, so I ended the evening in a candle-lit (but deliciously cool) house. All in all, a very fine Indian birthday!
"No further mention of motorcycles. Hmmm.....the silence is ominous. Knowing you, the warnings probably sent you right out to buy one. (But I hope not)" --Dale
Nah, no motorcycle. Yet. But I can see that the conspiracy against me on this issue is international! So, I'm just biding my time and laying low for a while... Plus, I witnessed a very nasty accident this week, involving a collision between two motorcycles and a car, that dulled my motorcycle craving just a bit. One motorcycle was carrying what looked like a refrigerator (a common sight here). The car slammed into a electrical pole, then into a building. On the other motorcycle, a 6-month old baby. The mother somehow managed to hold on to the baby even as she herself went flying off the motorcycle. I've driven by many accidents since I've been here, but this is the first bad one that I saw happen right in front of my eyes. The picture of that little baby in her mother's arms, on the ground, has stayed with me.
"Now you know why I always threatened to "just retire to India" HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN THE MOST SPLENDID SETTING FOR YOU, MOTHER INDIA HAS EMBRACED YOU!" --Sister Gosia
Yes, I am definitely enjoying mother India. And I can easily picture you retiring here...
"Basia, I read every one of your blogs and continue to find them absolutely fascinating. Your vivid writing makes me feel as if I'm in India with you! We miss you at ImageOut.... --Chuck
Hey Chuck, glad to know that you are still in the audience! Thanks for the ImageOut update. I miss ImageOut! I'm hoping to make it out to the one and only LBG film festival in all of India. It's somewhere in Bombay, in the fall. I'll let you know if I spot any hot new films for ImageOut to snap up!
"I can't believe it has been 3 months, and I can't believe you have found a substitute for your beloved Dunkin Donuts!!! They may go out of business now!!" --Trina
Welll...I wouldn't say they're a substitute...my heart will always belong to Dunkin' Donuts, no matter where I go. It's just that, "if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with," you know?.....I heard through the grapevine that there was a Dunkin' Donuts grand opening in Rochester recently? The things I am missing out on...
"You were at least partially right in your suspicion concerning the ol' evil Sloane. Up to this point, he has admitted having an affair with Irena, when she was married to Jack Bristow (Sidney's father). So we don't really know who Sidney's father is. Sidney doesn't know about this affair, but Jack Bristow has just found out and is hopping mad!" --Sheila
HA! I KNEW IT! He's Sydney's father, mark my words! (Ok, so Suvivor isn't the only show I miss....any other Alias fans out there who agree that Sydney is Sloane's daughter?)
"Thanks, Basia. It's been raining for 5 days here and finally, on the end of tax season, the sun came out but no colors in the garden....until I logged on...gorgeous colors!! Guess Spring is somewhere! Happy Birthday, girlfriend." --Sharon
"Happy Birthday Basia - your garden photos are gorgeous - thanks so much for sharing - have a great day! --Sue S.
I'm glad everyone enjoyed the flowers so much. It's definitely one of my most favorite things to photograph (right up there with smiling Indian children).
"Are you sure that's not Lesley's yard? :-)" --Laura
Yes, it does look like like Brian's handiwork, doesn't it? LOL
"Absolutely beautiful! That panoramic picture of the hotel overlooking the valley and surrounding hills is so wonderful--I feel like I'm there too." --Sheila
"Awesome! I don't think I'd ever grow weary of that view." --John
Yeah, me either. I wonder if I can convince Element K to open a branch in Kodaikanal?
"Gee, I wonder where in the world you will be on your next birthday..." --Dale
Yeah, me too! And it's the big FIVE-OH, so it needs to be someplace extra special!
"I tried to find Kodaikanal on the map but couldn't. Does it have a another name, or is that the name of the mts? Is in the state of Tamil Nadu?" --Donna
Yes, it's in the state of Tamil Nadu, very close to the border of Kerala (pronounced "Kerla" here), where Margaret was when she was here. The hills are called Palani. Here's where it is: