Monday, November 07, 2005

The Big 24

To be perfectly honest, I was not expecting a lot from my birthday this year. I’m a zillion miles from home, it’s busy time of year, and I had visions of spending the evening alone watching bad TV. All of which made the reality of my birthday that much greater. It was FABULOUS—a thoroughly memorable and happy day.

First off, I doubt I’ve ever experienced a more beautiful birthday. The weather here gets really cold at night but during the day it is sunny and warm in the sunshine and Saturday was particularly gorgeous. I spent a lot of the day outside and enjoyed 3 motorcycle rides throughout the day—woo hoo!

The day started off splendidly. My future brother-in-law, fiance, and parents all called to wish me a happy day. Then, my housemate Joanna and I made chocolate chip pancakes together which we then ate outside in the yard, allowing us to admire the Snows while munching contentedly. We were constantly vigilant for party-crashing monkeys but were fortunately able to enjoy our breakfast in peace. From there it was off to the St. Paul’s Church Fete. St. Paul’s is a lovely old stone church on my level of the mountain, about a half-hour stroll along the road with a perfect view of the mountains. The church was raising money for a new roof and so was having crafts and food and games and general fun on the lawn as a fundraiser and I agreed to help.

My task was to run crowd control and collect money at the second-hand clothing sale. Now, I’ve been at garage sales in the States so I know that people take bargain shopping seriously. But let me tell you right now that Midwest Americans have nothing on Indians when it comes to eagerness for a good deal. It was pandemonium! We had the clothing all on the verandah of the church and had to limit the number of people allowed onto it at any given time, just to maintain order. And then I had to square off against very pushy Indian women who were insisting that they should be able to pay 100 rupees for items clearly marked 500 rupees. I kept insisting that things were “fixed price” and we were not going to come down but apparently they took this as a challenge and simply redoubled their efforts (frequently in Hindi) to negotiate a better deal. I stood firm for the most part. I had no trouble refusing the aggressive bargainers. It was the clearly destitute few who came through and simply didn’t have the asked-for amount that I couldn’t refuse. And after all, it was a church affair.

Once the initial mad rush was over, I was free to wander the rest of the Fete, munching mutton momos (yum!), admiring handicrafts, and cheering on the participants in Bozo Buckets—a game unknown until this point in India, but met with great enthusiasm. Eventually I settled down in the sun with my knitting and just people-watched for a while until my friends appeared for a trip into the Bazaar.

For dinner, I met up with 7 of my good friends at one of the nicer restaurants in town and we engaged in a serious Indian feast. So much good food! And they all gallantly refused to let me chip in. We ended up at a Guy Fawkes Day party being hosted by some of our wacky Brits. (For those unfamiliar with Guy Fawkes Day, it involves lots of fireworks and, if you’re lucky, a burning effigy. Very fun). We arrived a bit late and missed the best fireworks but there was a nice bonfire to huddle around and my wonderful housemates produced a birthday cake with candles so there was much singing and rejoicing. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better day.


At 12:07 AM, Anonymous Rich said...

I am so glad to read you had a great day. Thanks for sharing your diary with us all, it helps us feel closer. It wont be too long until we see you! HAPPY Birthday friend


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