Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Birthday Bashings...

The other day I called up my friend to wish him a happy birthday. The pleasantries having been delivered, I ended the call not before he had promised me a nice big dinner in the near future. Of course, it couldn’t be managed that very evening owing to the fact of those 500 something kilometers that separated us.

I was still fancying about the prospects of that future dinner treat when I found myself going back in the past to relive some of the birthday parties I had been part of.

Back in the times of good old school days, birthday parties were eagerly anticipated events. The usual course of events being, a small treat at the school canteen for all classmates, followed by the main event at the “B’Day person’s’ house. The usual games, the dance (of which I was never a part), cutting of the cake and then the mouth watering food.

But things have changed drastically with time.

I was witness to these changes quite often during my college days. Any person who has spent some part of his or her life in a hostel (or for that matter, living away from home with mates) wouldn’t be a stranger to what I’m talking about.

As per my experiences in college, a birthday was nothing short of a catastrophe, a calamity that had to be faced once every year. People take birthdays to be a sort of "PAYBACK DAY". Giving vent to all their emotions for the 'B’Day guy'.

I remember one of such experiences on the birthday of my batch mate who lived in the room opposite to mine. It was the night before his birthday. It was all peace and calm in the hostel. But only till the clock struck 12. And suddenly people started to appear from all corners and converged to the door opposite mine. Just as suddenly as a large population of ants, appear out of nowhere and converge at a point, when the word is out that a fresh source of sweets is there for the taking.

The poor guy answered the knocks on his door (well, not really knocks but thumps which would bring the door down if not answered pretty quickly) with a smile. It was a smile, but one which, I guess would be on the face of some prisoner of war just as he gets ready to be taken to the gallows.

The ceremony started with the nearest of friends giving him hugs. But somewhere in the middle of the second hug, he simply vanished. And the next moment he was dangling in mid-air. Some people grabbed his wrists and the others grabbed his ankles. While all the others rushed to get the best strategic position around him.

And then they began to hurl him up into the air and down again. Just as I had seen some washer men do to dry some big piece of cloth while at the pond. The so called ‘birthday bumps’ which are considered to be the ritual without which no birthday is considered complete….

The total number of bumps corresponded to the number of birthdays the guy had celebrated. But what shocked me was that with each heave, all the people standing around him, kicked his back with all their might. Some clever ones had even come prepared with thick-soled boots for that very purpose. And with each kick, his cries of agony drowned in the shouts of the people whose mercy he was at.

According to his age, 20 something bumps were what he was to be subjected to. But as they counted 22 or 23, someone shouted that they had missed the correct count…. And that it had to be started again. That was when I had to intervene. Thankfully, for the guy, they let him down on the floor, wincing in pain, but still managing a smile. He had to smile. After all, it was his birthday…

Then someone got a rather innovative idea. He went and fetched a bucket full of water. And as expected (unexpected for me), the contents of that bucket were emptied on the birthday-boy who was still lying on the floor trying to feel for his back. Maybe that was a well meant idea to relieve some of his pain. But I didn’t really believe that pouring cold water on a beaten up guy past midnight was an act intended to alleviate his pain.

They even had a good mind to cover him up with a blanket or sheet and let go at him once again. But I don’t know what made them have mercy on the poor guy.

This was and is not an isolated incident. Birthdays, today, are ‘celebrated’ on these very lines and sometimes on even worse ones. But I’m really at a loss to understand the fun behind it all. Ok, if you need to take out your hard feelings on someone, you have all of the 364 days of the year to do that. Why not leave that one day for him or her to enjoy in the true sense.

Is it just because on the birthday, the ‘B’Day’ guy or girl has to accept whatever behavior that is meted out by the so called friends as a gesture of good wishes ? Come on…. Since when did you need to kick a person black and blue to wish him your good wishes ??

I guess this is a case of give and take. The very person being kicked on his birthday tolerates the torture maybe because surely before the next 365 days, he would get a chance to ‘Payback’ all of it to all his friends on their birthdays. But still I cannot get myself to reason with this madness.

Another aspect which makes me go crazy is the ‘Birthday Cake’. Isn’t the cake there to be decorated, cut and then eaten ? They decorate and cut it alright. But what happens about the eating bit ?? I simply fail to understand the fun behind smudging the face of the ‘B’Day guy’ with the cake. Well, if it is that funny, why not get one of those dummy cakes they have in movies which they throw at each other’s faces.

I don’t know if chocolate or vanilla cakes taste even better when applied to the face rather than let the tongue do the tasting. The scenes which I have witnessed regarding the fates of birthday cakes have led to my sufficient dislike to them.

Gone are the days when we had good clean fun and enjoyment along with the yummiest of food on birthdays. Now, birthdays are celebrated in strange ways. And strangely enough, people tend to like them too.

Thankfully for me, I never had the experience to ‘celebrate’ my birthday at the hostel. I know someone people would say that I've missed a great experience. But personally, I would rather give it a miss....

And never did I taste my birthday cake through my face. But it’s a ritual that has spread all around now. As the picture below suggests….

Sachin Tendulkar's 36th B'Day


  1. Hey we had this ritual in school too! I remember I once had a major fight with Saini (and we were like best buddies u know - him, Aradhana & me!)... and I didn't speak to him at all for 3 whole days, just 'coz he was a part of the group kicking some poor b'day boy outside the school canteen!

    They even poured cold drinks on the chap after the kicks were done! I remember the b'day guys used to bring their games uniform that day - they changed into it before the "ceremonies" began! And changed back into the school uniform after washing up! Pretty disgusting nevertheless, I must say.

    I have also had the cake plastered over my face once... and I ended up crying! LOL! :-D

  2. Yes. I guess this madness had started even when we were in school. But like you said, they used to bring their games uniform that day, it clearly shows how people knew what was in store and were ready to face it all.

    Probably to pay it all back some other day....

  3. I have had my butt kicked and have had cake on my face and coke poured on my head for years now... and I have given back as good as I have got... And you know what... I am still around with the chaps who did this to each other on birhtdays... only... as we have got older... we do this a little less passionately... at least the kicking...

    But I miss the good old days... the getting and the giving both... to each his own I guess...

    But still.. thank you for posting about this... brought back a million memorable memories...

  4. ATMM : It's good that you really enjoyed all that 'fun' on birthdays. Just as I find most people enjoy it all too.

    Maybe I really am the outcast I find myself to be in moments of such 'fun'. :-(

  5. an innovative idea I have seen... they make a formula out of shampoo, ink etc and mix it with the cake and apply it on the birthday boy's face.. dont really get it.. but all these are far better than the bumps...

  6. Preethika Shenoy Padiyar :

    Shampoo ?? Ink ??? :-o

    Gosh ! Is that really some innovation to celebrate ?

  7. See I donno about it shobit... but it is my husband's frens group who do it... they prepare a liquid with shampoo, ink and i donno what else... later they apply it on the bday guy's face... whatever it is, it is navy blue or black in color... my husband's birthday is in august.. and he is so happy he will miss it now onwards cz he is married... :P

  8. Preethika Shenoy Padiyar :

    :D Now that is 'ONE' thing I should agree to as a plus point of being married. :P



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