I turned 41 on October 18th. Ufff…my stomach still knots up just a little bit whenever I say my age but I’m not going to lie about it so there’s really no reason to hide it either. Well, I say that but who the hell knows how I will feel in the years to come. I’m not particularly thrilled to suddenly be closer to 50 than 30 but – thanks to my mother’s amazing skin that I inherited – and in the spirit of tooting my own birthday horn – I think I still look pretty damn good for a woman of 41. I’ve never done Botox or had surgery and don’t use pricey face creams but I’m sure that’s all in my future in five to ten years!
Birthdays in our family were always really fun. My Mom did a super job of making us feel like little princesses for a day back in California…which I have of course carried on with my daughter whose birthday is just seven days before mine. We’ve been to Paris, Venice and Carcassonne for our birthdays in the past several years but this year travel isn’t an option so we both opted for parties in Bangalore with our new friends. But being the new girls in town was a bit of a concern for us both when we started to plan our birthday celebrations this year after only living in India a short time. I certainly have made some wonderful friends but they haven’t known me for long so I wasn’t sure what to expect this year to be honest.
Well, I am happy to report that my new friends and my new lover India certainly didn’t let me down. Since birthdays are handled a bit differently here than in Europe or in the states, it was really fun to discover the new traditions that I’m adopting…most of which I absolutely adore. Although to be frank, I feel really lucky to have escaped a couple of Indian birthday traditions because I was mortified when I learned about them. The worst of these is having a cake either smashed into one’s face or having friends smear the frosting all over the birthday girl or boy just for fun. Either way it is messy and I can guarantee that cake as an accessory will never go with my outfit.
So there I was, chilling out on the sofa with our cats Jolie and Saffron when the clock struck twelve and in rolled my birthday. I was half watching Eat Pray Love and half editing an article. I had an insane amount of orange coloured face mask on trying to “beautify” myself before the big day. My daughter had gone to sleep a couple of hours earlier so when my phone rang I sort of jumped to answer it quickly to kill the noise. And to my surprise it was a friend-of-a-friend who has given me advice on HR issues over the past several months calling to wish me a happy birthday! Ahhhh, what a sweetie! After a minute we hung up and just when I turned back to my movie it rang again, and then again, and again. In India, a birthday starts at midnight! I must have received at least a dozen calls plus a bunch of WhatsApp and BB messages. In the past I maybe received two or three SMS around midnight plus perhaps a call from my BFF or Mommy so to me this was amazing. I received calls and messages from acquaintances, old colleagues and, of course, my good friends in Bangalore. It really made me feel special and less alone and as far as birthday traditions go, it is truly the most amazing start to a birthday anywhere.
I continued to receive calls and messages on my birthday, including lots of messages confirming attendance to my birthday party. One of the interesting differences between India and Spain or the states is that when people RSVP to a party back in Barcelona or back in southern California, they would always show up. Or they would call or message to say they regrettably couldn’t attend but no one who RSVPs would ever simply be a no-show. But here in India things are quite different. Even just an hour or two before my party I had friends confirm that they were coming…and then they never showed up. (FRIENDS reading this…I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty!!!) I was pretty surprised by this to be honest. I wonder if it goes hand-in-hand with the trait I see in Indians at work who tell me what I want to hear instead of telling me the truth or the probable reality? Hmmmm….
On top of all the cheery phone calls and messages, the first deliveries of what was the start of a bunch of truly kick-ass birthday gifts from new friends in town began to roll in. First, I received a bottle of champagne and big bottles of Prada Amber and Issey Miyake (two of my favourite perfumes) around lunchtime. Then, a home spa service complete with a facial, manicure, pedicure and make-up to glam me up for my big party. It was perfect. Then later at my actual party I received two enormous bouquets of flowers, more perfume, a handbag, a bottle of Moet, some Torres and other local Indian wines and even a handmade crochet bikini top. Birthdays rock! Oh and on top of that, the crazy and fabulous Dj Whosane! is a friend of mine and he flew down from Mumbai for the night to play my birthday party (check out his FB page here), which was very much like a kick-ass gift.
My actual birthday party was really fun and held at F Bar & Kitchen in Bangalore, which I adore. The venue is fantastic and they mix the most amazing cocktails in town. Aside from Dj Whosane! who was going to do whatever floats his boat anyway, the entire party was dressed in black per my request. Everyone looked truly elegant. Really made a difference in the snaps too, check them out if you like here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.148009191963190.29518.104113239686119&type=3&l=9078ab61e5
The team at F Bar sweetly gifted me a bottle of Moët & Chandon and that just put me over-the-moon happy. And since it has been AGES since I opened a bottle — and partly because I have seen how people open bottles here in India — I insisted on opening it myself. It was quite fun because I saw people starting to stand back a bit but… that’s never the way you will see a European open a bottle of Champagne (where Champagne actually originates). The sexiest, most posh and alluring way to open a bottle of Champagne is done by slicing it open with a sword or large knife as they do in the south of France at some of the hot spots. But if you don’t have a sword on you, then the sexiest way to open the bottle is to try to have it open in almost silence, or with only a small pop of air that escapes. And I am proud to say that I almost achieved it…although there was a small sound that escaped but the cork stayed in my hand when it opened, within a centimeter from the bottle. Here in India Champagne is opened like they do on racing tracks or bachelor parties…cork flying, Champagne spilling all around. It’s wild. Anyway, it was my birthday and my Moët so it was my way that day!
To me, a party is a party no matter where you are in the world…as long as you have friends or family with you. So I really had the best time at my birthday with so many of my new friends and colleagues and business associates there with me to celebrate. It was a Tuesday night so I was a bit worried that most people wouldn’t come out on a school night but that didn’t seem to be a deterrent. I suppose in part thanks to Bangalore’s insanely early 11:30pm closing hours. So we rocked it at F Bar until closing, then anyone who wanted to came back to mine for an after party ‘til the wee hours of the morning. Ahhhh perfection. I’m sorry but finishing up in my own flat while the party is still raging is the BEST. There is no inconvenient moving or shifting to do after, no having to crash on anyone’s sofa… it doesn’t get any better!
All in all it was a perfect 1st birthday in India. Thanks so much to all my friends, my trusted driver Shiva and the F Bar team for making it a perfect day…and night… and a bit of the next day too 🙂
© 2011 Angela Carson