Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Of Birthdays, In Real Life & Blogwise

I don't usually celebrate personal milestones in public but religiously put out blog anniversary posts every year, today being the fifth year since I started writing this blog.

I want to indulge in some birthday memories, though, real-life birthday ones. The only cakes we got in our town were the brown, fruit cake kinds with hard icing, hard pink, green and purple roses, silver balls and twisty little candles. In the absence of mothers, aunts and grandmothers who did not make cakes but only Indian sweets and "hots" (savouries), I suppose we looked forward to this cake. Even if the flowers were solid enough to have claimed a tooth or two, that's what we had and cherished.


Those were the days when a 'return gift' wasn't known, and asking a guest to the birthday party, "What gift have you brought me?" would result in a slap, never mind you were only five or six or that it was your birthday. Grandmothers would kit us out in embroidered frocks and there would perhaps be a trip to the temple.

At school, the only time we were allowed to wear "colour dress" (not the uniform) was on Saturdays and birthdays. At Assembly, the teacher presiding would ask if there were any birthday girls or boys and one, two or three, sometimes urged by their friends, would stand up hesitantly and make their way to the stage, upon which the Music Master would begin strumming his guitar and all of us would sing "Happy Birthday to You!" I remember not owning up to a birthday one year, my cousins who studied in the same school telling my Grandmother about it, and my Grandmother scolding me for it. Why had I been so shy? Was it also the birthday I wore a white dress with blue, red and yellow clowns all over? Maybe. I couldn't be sure.

Stage or not, the 'distributing sweets' routine was all-important, and after the first period began, the birthday girl or boy would distribute sweets to the entire class, to the teacher, and then accompanied by another, go and give the headmistress some, and maybe the other teachers too. A classmate's birthday was also the first time I saw a pink guava - her folks brought guavas in big baskets and distributed them to the entire school, and one of them was pink. The popular sweets distributed were "Goldspot" sweet (orange hard-boiled candy) or a green-wrapped toffee. The thing to do, after you'd popped the sweet into your mouth, was to twist the wrapper into what was supposed to be a dancing girl. The green wrapper was particularly prized. For one birthday, I remember asking everyone to give me back their wrappers. (I'm cringing, childhood is no excuse for such behaviour.) One boy refused, I prepared to cry, and our teacher stepped in, saying she would give me hers. I don't know what I did with them. Not all could refuse a birthday girl, however ungracious, could they?

In the evening was the party, with the cake, streamers, balloons, friends, cousins, uncles, aunts, neighbours. There were home-made sweets and savouries, or some would be ordered from the Udupi hotel in the town centre. There was jelly and ice-cream in little globe-shaped containers. There were no games, no party hats, and gifts brought could be as simple as a packet of biscuits. The cake was cut, food eaten, and everybody went home after an hour or two. Till one was eleven or twelve and deemed old enough for the parties to stop. Truly old, because at thirteen, I had just one friend over and that was to pour my heart out to her over an evil classmate.

And now from nostalgia to the Oscar speech: Thank you, readers, bloggers, family, friends, blog aggregators. You keep this blog going, and this blog keeps me going.

Here's my first anniversary post, and here's another nice post on how children celebrated their birthdays in the Seventies and Eighties.

29 comments:

  1. relived my growing years with your post and made me want to bite that hard green candy,dont find them any more.
    Anyways wishing you a very happy blog birthday and here's to many many more
    -XOXO

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  2. Lovely memories Sra... the colour dress, distributing sweets and the goldspot candies :)

    Happy Birthday!

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  3. Happy 5th blog birthday, Sra! The way you're holding the knife to the birthday cake tells all - I remember those cakes with wild colored flowers too :)

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  4. Happy blog birthday, dear Sra. A flashback of sorts went through my mind as I read this post of yours....esp the parts about distributing sweets after the assembly and then making a "dancing girl" with the wrapper.

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  5. Happy birthday WMSCA! Calls for a toast!
    And imagine having a birthday during school vacations...i never wore colour dress to school! But have lot of fond memories about celebrations at home. and yes, you could not ask for a gift in the first place, people came only to partake the goodies...no greetings either!
    You have put the idea for a post into me...will write up my recollections soon!

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  6. Sra,
    Wish you many more blog birthdays and congratulations on completing 5 years in blogging world wow! time flies..return gifts are custom now for every birthday party but somehow we are loosing the simplicity of childhood days in this nitty-gritty of modern world may be ....loved the memories you shared with us..hugs and smiles

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  7. I am laughing out loud by just imagining you asking all the kids the paper back from the sweets you gave for them.
    Happy 5th blog anniversary and wishing you and blog many many more delicious and wonderful years of writting witty posts.
    I never celebrats my blog b'day too, but i think next year it will be 5 maybe then i should also.

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  8. Do you remember the excitement at choosing the friend who would accompany us to distribute sweets to other classes?? Sandeepa reminded me of it in her similar post and I smiled

    Thanks for the memories....

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  9. Happy Anniversary to the blog. I do remember the sweet distributing routine.

    I miss that green candy and the upper jaw being sore after sucking on those orange candies. Were they made by Nutrine(?)?

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  10. Sra, amazing post of re-living old memories, the color dress, the dancing girls out of candy (we called them chocolate instead) wrappers, goldspot candy, Mango bite candies... Wonderfully written. Happy bloggy birthday and keep writing like this for many more years :-)

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  11. Loved this post and relived several memories!:-D!

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  12. Happy anniversary! Wonderful memories. Enjoyed this post.

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  13. Happy blog birthday Sra. Keep them coming.

    Thank you for reminding me of those simple birthday traditions. My school was similar except we didn't have to stand in front of the whole school just our class. It got embarrassing as I grew older but it was still fun while it lasted. Can't believe you asked for the wrappers back! But I would have loved you in school if I knew you then. :-)

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  14. Sreelu, Laavanya, thanks, glad you identified with it!
    Vani, the cake was hard, but not THAT hard - it's a funny pose!
    Jayashree, thanks!
    Lata, I look forward to reading it!
    Jaya, Happy, thanks!
    Miri, somehow I don't remember that bit. But it was fun.
    Indo, I think the green one was Nutrine, the orange was probably Parle.
    La, ?, Paz, thank you.
    Desisoccermom, you wouldn't have. I wouldn't have liked myself :) If I feel confessional, that may be another post some day!

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  15. A nostalgic post...Took me back to my school days. Dancing girl from wrappers...I love to do that even today when I get them. These days, not many candies come in that sort of wrappers.

    Happy blog birthday and wishing you many more.

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  16. Sra... I have been a regular visitor,sorry never left a comment..but this post made me comment.. I took a trip down memory lane.. those green candies..having to stand in front of the class while everyone sang was my worst fear.. I loved that green candy so much, true cannot find them anymore. Your post made me google.. and I found this.. looks like they do make them, but cant find them any where !
    http://www.esuppliersindia.com/lotte-india-ex-parry-confectionary-/lacto-bon-bon-toffee-pr261761-sFP-swf.html

    but any way, thank you for a lovely post. I was feeling blue today and your post made me cheer up, re living my childhood. When I read your posts I keep thinking you and I think so much alike :)
    Happy Blog birthday to you !

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  17. Sra... I have been a regular visitor,sorry never left a comment..but this post made me comment.. I took a trip down memory lane.. those green candies..having to stand in front of the class while everyone sang was my worst fear.. I loved that green candy so much, true cannot find them anymore. Your post made me google.. and I found this.. looks like they do make them, but cant find them any where !
    http://www.esuppliersindia.com/lotte-india-ex-parry-confectionary-/lacto-bon-bon-toffee-pr261761-sFP-swf.html

    but any way, thank you for a lovely post. I was feeling blue today and your post made me cheer up, re living my childhood. When I read your posts I keep thinking you and I think so much alike :)
    Happy Blog birthday to you !
    Valli

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  18. Happy Birthday dear WMSCA, I want those orange candies and NO I am not giving you the wrapper back, okay !!!

    And let the party here never stop even in the angst ridden teens.

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  19. Happy 5th blog Anniversary. Wishing many more Golden memoirs, Sra :)

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  20. Jayasree, thanks very much. I rarely eat this stuff these days, and the green ones seem to be gone, but when I do, I'll make a dancing girl!
    Valli, you made my day, really, thank you for delurking and saying my post made a difference to your mood. Would have liked to visit your blog if you have one but you seem to have restricted your profile!
    like :)
    BongMom, angst-ridden teens ... ah, they seem just like yesterday but again, not ... I won't let the party stop, and don't you, either!

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  21. Happy blog birthday! Wishing you many many more. I totally remember the distributing sweets part! It was fun.

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  22. Happy 5th Birthday to "When My Soup Came Alive"!! Congratulations Sra :) Your post really brought back birthday memories for many of us readers!!
    I dont know if its a good thing - birthdays becoming such a big deal now... like u wrote, as kids our birthdays kept falling in importance every year :) Anyway, keep blogging and cheers to many more blogoversaries!!

    here are some of my birthday memories - http://theweekendepicurean.blogspot.com/2010/07/birthday-blues-and-corn-curry.html

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  23. Wishing you a very happy 5th bloggy anniversary Sra. and Cheers to many many more! :D Reading your post reminded me of my schooling days. Ah! thanks for that.

    Siri
    xoxo

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  24. Mandira, Swati, Siri, thanks for your comments!

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  25. Lots more wishes.....it's like heart out post....totally agree with u.....lots had changed in the gone years.....

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  26. That brought a smile to my face. Between, the frock with clowns all over.. lol. Return gifts are not just at b'day parties now. They give them at school to the the entire class! And each chicld's return gift tries to be the better than the other.. guess it's lost its value.

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  27. And yes happy b'day WMSCA!

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  28. Lubna, Rachel, thanks!

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  29. Happy blog birthday.Such a lovely post...I was thinking of mine too...those were the good old days. Thank you for stopping by at my space..I was so glad that you liked the havan spoon pic..:)

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