22 July 2017

I had promised myself that I won’t let corporate life suck me into it’s vortex. But the delay in writing this shows I’ve failed and they’ve succeeded. So almost a month later here’s what 22 July 2017 was for me! 

With the realization of half of my life’s existence on this planet done (comparing how healthy I am to my elders during this time of their lives, life beyond 70 looks far fetched), this birthday became more about introspection than celebration. 

This doesn’t mean I didn’t celebrate – because of course I did. Celebrations have evolved but some things remain constant. Some people have remained core to all my birthday celebrations & they were there! Basu, Chinnu, GS, Praveen, Shruti, Vasudha & Viraj – all of them were at our very own ‘Central Perk‘ (GS & Chinnu’s place) & we laughed like mad after ages! Some at my cost & some inspite of me. 

I stayed up till 3 am “partying” & felt younger again 🙂 Morning, Sam thought of the sweetest gesture anyone has ever thought for me. He woke up early because he wanted to decorate the room & give me a surprise (apparently how I did for his birthday)! He tried whatever a 5 year old could decorate, gave me a handmade card & cut cake with me. My in-laws gave me gifts & blessings to conclude the first half of my birthday.

Then I went to my mom-dad’s place in the afternoon where I feasted on ‘Maa ke haath khana’. Throwing diet to the wind, I gorged on yummy food. Shruti, Shraddha & I went to a movie. Namu who really tried hard to come was sorely missed – that’s us missing her when we went for ‘Jagga Jasoos’.

Calls kept pouring in. I think that’s why birthdays are important – because amidst the hustle-bustle of your life, you take time out to catch up on your friend’s life. Sumit, Amit, Arundhati, Priya, Girish, Bridget, Vibhor, Mithila, Shivangi, Preeti, relatives etc. called & we had a good talk. Is it ideal that friendships are now restricted to calls 2 times in a year – No; but is it sufficient to feel connected – Yes!

Post movie was the time of the day when I introspected. I read my 30th birthday blog & tried to see if I’m satisfied where I’ve reached in last 5 years! Those who know me, already know my answer would be in the negative. I’ve always seen the room to improve & there’s almost always someone better than me. Had I not talked to a dear friend & my husband – I would have probably summed up my last 5 years as amounting to nothing. But then, something changed – I’ve decided to see the glass half full. I’ve decided to set milestones for my 40th birthday & then celebrate that one in style having achieved what I aimed to do & satisfied at the place I’ve reached.

It’s been a month post this decision & surprisingly, I’m still trying to do exactly that. And while all my birthdays are as important “to me” – I sure as hell want to write the 40th one as TOW all the goals met!


22nd July 2016

I realized that you are never too old to get surprises.

As I grew older; wisdom was an involuntary fallout so I assured myself that I’m too old for surprises & having a “quiet” birthday is my thing! Evidently, neither of the statements mentioned are true… I totally love surprises & the noisier the birthday the better I feel 🙂

The wee hours..

IMG_20160723_004700.jpgStaying up would come so easily  to me earlier but that night I struggled to stay up. However, I managed to be awake enough to answer my sisters’ calls & cut a small cake which Viraj got.. It was here that Sam got up in the middle of his sleep, wished me & told me what the surprise in the morning was (it was this card that he made – the very first one!) 🙂

He was the highlight of the birthday. His behaviour was so adorable that I wished everyday was my birthday. He woke up with me (at 5 am), got ready without any tantrums (though tried to convince me that since it is my birthday, he should take leave & celebrate) & was constantly wishing me, hugging me & just being with ME!


The early bird gets the worm…IMG_20160726_091855

Side effect of being a teacher, you have really early morning. But when the whole household is up & running with full vigor at 5:30 am, you can safely start the celebrations.. Here was cake number 2 I cut & officially got the card mentioned above along with other gifts…

Just look at us… Do we look sleepy to you??


Aapni toh pathshala, masti ki pathshala…

All of you know by now that I teach tenth grade. So, it came as no surprise to me that I entered the class & no one wished me. That they actually were their usual cranky self – bickering early in the morning. “They are stressed, don’t expect them to remember,” I thought to myself.

I had got things for my kids but well, you hardly expect a teacher to go & say, ” Wish me, it’s my birthday!” So, I decided to give sweets, chocolates to them as a reward for writing a test – which I had scheduled the earlier day (ain’t I a sunshine!)

Little did I know, that I was SO WRONG about my kids. They decorated the class, got cake, gifts & all the shenanigans & had a DJ party where they made me dance. I was overwhelmed with the handmade cards & thoughtful gifts. They never express love, gratitude but it was overflowing that day & sufficient enough for me to stop cribbing about them not caring! Did I mention I cut cake no. 3 here.


TOW family & friends.IMG_20160726_092445

I did cut the cake in the morning but it wasn’t an official cake. The official cake was an Iyengar bakery rawa cake that I completely love. Viraj came home early that day & after playing squash – I cut the cake no. 4 & left for our evening surprise.

A movie (Ice Age 5) & a nice dinner was in the offing. But what I didn’t know was that some of my friends were also going to surprise me here 🙂 After a long day’s work, GS, Archana & Basu joined me for dinner along with kids. A huge shout out to them to take so much trouble to make me feel all loved! Love you guys. Food (& cake no. 5), conversation & laughter flowed while we sat in Indigo Deli.

An extremely content me came home & slept at 1:30 am. Lots of people wished me & some didn’t. But that’s the thing about birthdays – you remember what you had & not what you don’t! You remember how much planning your husband put in on a working day, you smile widely thinking of your son’s behaviour, you feel silly about cutting so many cakes & yet wouldn’t change a single thing of that day. There was something else cooking as well but I wasn’t sure what it was.

Friday birthdays are fun because…

They don’t end in a day. I had an extended weekend of celebrations which included a spa appointment (after school of course), a surprise lunch with my sisters, mom & Niranjan & an evening out with Shruti…

The perfect end for a perfect birthday was a lazy Sunday when both Sam & I got up late (this happened for the first time in the last 4 years…)


22nd July 2015

It’s been 10 years since I’ve written about my birthday celebrations. And as I was watching ‘How to get away with murder’ this 22nd July, I got a chance to reread all these notes!

I was washed over by a wave of love and a feeling of being special! What had started as random narratives now serve as a reminder of how much people had gone out of their way to surprise me and to make my day. As time passed by, the length of my notes became shorter but not the enthusiasm that comes with birthdays. But still I noticed some significant differences.

For instance, I started those notes as a full 24 hours stay-up documentary. This has now changed as I try to catch up on my sleep whenever I can (even on my birthday)

I used to have tons of people come over and lots of cakes being cut. But with everyone in my circle having kids, traveling jobs etc. this is becoming slightly difficult to expect.

Surprises were like the highlight of the day (notice the plural here). Now there aren’t as many but what surprises me is that I still expect surprises (I mean who doesn’t!). So, when my birthday started at 5 am this time, I wished there was someone hiding in the living room or there would be someone who would embarrass me in school by making my birthday a big deal 🙂 While my ever so logical brain rationalized this & showed the probability as zero, the silly (illogical) heart just wouldn’t stop the horses of it’s imagination!

Anyway, moving from imagination to reality – what happened this year? Sam was the first to wish me when he got up at midnight to get some water. Then I cut cake in the morning at 6:30 am (before going to school). Got some phone calls on the way to school.

In school no one knew it was my birthday. Now, you hardly expect a teacher to go around saying it’s my birthday – wish me! So, I didn’t tell the whole day. Just as I was leaving, Viraj messaged my school team about wishing me and my kids sang for me. They generally end the song by clapping as many times as the age – that hardly could happen for me now 🙂 Came home to a lavish meal of all my favorites, read a lot of messages on whatsapp (forced a few of them to call) and had an awesome game of squash for about an hour. Evening played with Sam, spoke to a couple of more people and managed to stay up till midnight to savor the last few minutes of the day that was 22nd July 2015!


22nd July 2010

One would think that this birthday when I am quite close to the big ‘THREE-OH’ would dampen my spirits on my birthday! I cannot but relate this expectation to a F.R.I.E.N.D.S episode which shows the reactions of everyone when they celebrated their 30th birthday… But my birthday was yet again an occasion to get pampered and feel young all over again…. 22nd July despite being a working day & despite the wrath of rain gods, still managed to make me smile (or giggle more likely) through the day!

So, why did this happen? May be coz things like dress codes, surprises, gifts, hugs and night-outs – still remained ‘the usuals’ at my birthday… May be coz all the relevant people in my life have their own ways of making me feel special…. May be coz it wasn’t really a day but a week of celebrations! May be coz even if I’m a pessimist at heart, I ALWAYS end up seeing the silver light on that day… And more importantly coz, it’s probably the only day when I decide to act mature and also succeed in it (For instance, maintaining a written “call list” wasn’t done AT ALL… Though end of day, I counted the number of calls/posts  (Do I see the readers nodding their head with only one statement in their mind ‘When will she grow up?’)

Anyway, without further ado & rambling, this is how 22nd July 2010 was! It started with Vraj picking me up after work on 21st night…. With my zero observation skills, quite naturally I did not realise he had changed into a different set of clothes…. Only when he pointed it out, I was like “Oh you did!!! Oh that means we are going out!!! Oh, considering you are a ‘Birla’s aulad’ it’ll be a hep hotel with candle light dinner…. Oh, meri ijjat ki waat lagegi in some 5-star hotel coz of what I am wearing… you are so rude na – why won’t you ask me to get a change of clothes too if you were planning something!” If you can believe this, I actually managed to say ALL OF THIS in a single breath!

But after the volley of statements, throughout the ride – I was guessing all the possible hotels in Mumbai where he could take me to…. I even googled and started listing them…. Vraj played his part well – sometimes ‘acted’ saying, “Oh! U r so smart – u guessed!”, sometimes just smiling as if his plan was exposed etc. … Net – Net, “Ullu banaya mujhe!” Finally, we came to this place called, ‘Dadar, Mumbai 28’! It’s a vintage hotel of sorts (as you can guess from the name) and apparently serves awesome non-veg food (which we came to know only after dinner there)! At the restaurant, I got my first gift – Godiva liqueur chocolate box! Now that’s a sweet start of the day, ain’t it?

Inside, zero observation skills were displayed yet again when I did not notice a table full of 12 odd people – my very own junta – patiently waiting for me (did I mention I got late that day too!)…. And when I did see them, I failed to notice that they were all in Red & Black, my favourite colors! Of course, GS was in pink but I give it to him since it’s a shade of Red  Shruti was there with her ‘better’ half and told me how I unnecessarily harassed her the previous night (I had called her and told her how I found out she is coming to my house and she insisted on how she wasn’t! And when I agreed to what she had to say, I sulked!)

The other jhang-bang was there too!
1. Mom-Dad (long ride from Borivli to Dadar in heavy rains and after work)
2. Shruti-Shraddha(after a night out due to exams/projects)
3. Saasumaa-Sasurji (after long tiring day with all travelling involved due to the ‘dress-code’ factor)

I couldn’t stop smiling and feeling special for the pains they took for me. After talking to everyone and hugging them, I asked “Priya kyun nahi aayi? Of course, she has to come!” And then madame made her presence felt. As usual she was like, “Arre! Tum log yahan kaise? I heard abt this place and I just came” Such a childish attempt na but if it was any more sophisticated, it wouldn’t have been her

After a sumptuous dinner, which ended very fast (surprisingly considering the laughs and banter around) we waited & at 11:15 pm waiters’ got my ‘surprise’ cake! Vraj was like, “Areeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyy! Abhi nahi!!!” and we all laughed at his reaction! Anyway, we killed time till midnight…. Can you imagine that 11 people on the table wanted to pay the bill and leave early and ONLY Vraj held the fort and made us wait…. Basu messaged saying, I’m sleeping so happy budday in advance and I called him and forced him to stay up and wish… (This is the price to pay to love me, but a small one! )Of course, he wished me at 12 else he would have to hear that till he became a grandfather

To pass time, we ordered desserts and at the stroke of mid-night (which were actually 4 different strokes – one said central railway time, one said western railway time, one said JnJ time and other said right time period ) my first cake came! I cut the cake, fed everyone, took snaps from Priya’s cam and suddenly I had a juggernaut force coming down on me! It was a hug from Namu who came from Bangalore to surprise me…. Obviously, since she is the ‘noise’ of the house, hajar awaaz happened with her arrival…. Archana wished me too (Yes! Since shaadi with GS our ‘super-early’ morning person has learned to stay up!) and then there was an unexpected caller Rahul…. After talking to him, I realised that his excitement came NOT from wishing me but hearing me say ‘shiv, shiv, shiv!” in response to him saying “chicken”!

Finally at 12:35 we left that place for Mulund! Did I mention I got my second round of gifts here  Shruti, Praveen & GS bid adieu here and we reached my Mulund house (Phulgirkars – Datars – Priya) Here I got the third set of gifts  Then after a round of ice-creams, all senior citizens slept off and we all stayed up! I was up till 4:00 am checking FB, mails etc. & at that point my old bones forced me to sleep till 7 am…. “Things well begun, day awesomely done”, I thought as I slept

Dressed up in my new clothes & got a fourth round of gifts in the morning. I came late to office and got fully drenched (Mumbai rains) in the process. As luck may have it, our administration chose to have the lowest possible temperatures that day! But no amount of cold could have doused my enthu-ness – after all it was my budday! As soon as I entered, Nupur & Manish wished me…. I had a round of calls during the day as well…. Ideally, I would have had a second cake cutting ceremony @ office but since I had joined only 3 weeks ago – no one really knew it was my birthday…. Now, I am super enthu about my birthday but going and telling people, “its my budday wish me!” isn’t really an awesome thing to do! At 5:00 pm, I left for Borivli so that I could spend some time with Namu. Aai – Baba graciously agreed to let me spend my day there! I got drenched again and because of this, I did not go to meet Nishu & Arti who had actually got candles and chocolates for me…. Sorry baccha! Will make up for this!!! We were supposed to leave for ‘Inception’ – a movie that everyone dared me that I won’t understand…. Vraj came late, rains did not stop and idea of getting drenched for the third time did not sound too appealing…. So, we ordered in, ate garam-garam food and played cards till it was 23rd July 2010 – the 8 people closest to me!

In the last ten minutes, while my father dealt the cards, I checked through the list of phone calls…. So many people tried innumerable times to get through to me and wish me…. So many of them do this year on year without fail and just make me feel special…. Amit who never once forgot to call on my budday, Ashwath who called and we spoke for almost an hour, Ninad who calls despite having a right to get mad for not meeting often even if we are in the same city…. GG messaged, mailed and called  I would have been happy knowing he remembered but he really surpassed himself when he used every form of communication! Shaw, Needs & Shruti called back-to-back and had I not known better I would have thought – “Hawww! They have come to surprise me”  (Yeh dil always maange more people so please don’t get bugged) Relatives – Maussis, Chachas, Chachis, Mamas – Minutai, Ruparel friends Pritee, Abhijit etc., JJ Medical college friends (No! I did not go there but still managed to meet Pooja) and a few juniors Mayank, Noddy, Chhallo, Ankoor, Rajant called too…. Arundhati called – increasing the number of continents I received calls from to 4

After the game concluded, Vraj and I left for Mulund…. Got drenched the third time! As I went off to sleep, I thanked God for giving me signs to tell me once and for all – “Sharmili, stop whining about being old and writing blogs like you are 65… You have a long way to go there!”
The birthday celebrations continued on 24th July 2010 when I cut my second cake – in Lonavla… Awesome cake, brilliant view, 8 people huddled up on a bed drinking cool breezers and the thought that Shruti remembered my funda of a ‘Birthday Week’ – I was all smiles again 
Such was 22nd July 2010 – as awesome as the others were and I felt as special as I did in others… Over the years, people participating in my budday have changed (since the time I have started writing this), surprises have changed, and people giving surprises have changed!!! But through all the years, a certain set NEVER changes…. May be that’s what they call a core!!! A core that is not only of people who are bound by blood to love me but also of those who love me despite the ‘consistent’ disruption I cause in their lives.

Love you all!!!


Going OUT of your way

Errr! This blog is not an original idea but the feelings with which it is written are very original. One of my jaans did this for me and I thought that I ought to do the same for this person. And therefore, this blog! It is long due and cannot come at a more appropriate moment. So, here as I am done with all exams and am listening to “Kahin toh…” from Jaane Tu…(lovely song I say) and am writing this. It is about this person called Sidharth Gupta! I met this guy at IIMB and I became friends with him. As time went by, his image changed from a brilliant orator to intelligent person to a wonderful friend. I have no clue how we moved on from just caring for each other to taking each other for granted.As time went by, this bond grew stronger. Then came summers and after a hiatus of 2 months, we met back @ IIMB as “seniors”. 2 things happened. He became a DML, that is Director’s Merit List – the top 10 of the batch. I was so proud of him that (at the risk of sounding stupid) I could cry with pride as he took his certificate from Capt. Gopinath. I was very happy for him but deep down a little sad about my sheer lack of achievement. So, what finally happened was me being extremely happy for him and he being sad for me (He dint give up on me then, nor has he given up now – hopefully). The second thing that happened was he got a PPO. Kiddo! I haven’t told you how proud you make me with all these achievements! I haven’t told you how I knew for certain that, if anyone could make that CUT, it would be u 🙂
So, here is a big CONGRATULATIONS!!! for both these successes.

But why I write this is more to commensurate your efforts to make that special VDO for me on my birthday! For others, this VDO contained all those who I would have sorely missed not being around on my budday! So, this dude coordinates with my school friends (Gaurang), junior college friends (Priya, Aniket), college friends (Basu, Archana), jaan (Vraj), my seniors (Shruti, Needs, Shaw, Neetu, GS) asking them to send me a video recording wishing me personally. Isn’t that the sweeetest thing to do for someone. The thought itself was soooooooo sweet. But in typical Sid style, he saw it to completion (as expected of him). He went thru hajar trouble to first collate these separate videos and then form a brilliant one with a theme. Just to mention a few jhols, some – published on youtube and he recorded off the comp, others cut the video and mailed in parts which he collated, he selected pics to go with individual videos, some were using web cam and he sat through the whole msg recording on this side. Silent all the while to avoid disturbance in the video quality. And mind you! this is all done secretly – avoiding me as much as possible. Anyone who has been to IIMB would know – how difficult a task it is for him 😉 All this to put a smile on my face and (as I was completely unaware of this) during this time I fought with him for givin me less time 😦 Sorry Kiddo!! Next time tell me and do this – it’ll make your life easier 😛

So, bas! Not only did I smile but I cried as well. Not once but thrice – it was too overwhelming. (Of course, I was alone when I did so). And I was not the only one crying. Shruti saw in office and cried. Needs too, Shaw almost. I showed it to Neha (my mentor) and she was so touched. Yes! that was the impact. Thanks a ton dude…. You have no clue how much this means to me and how long will I treasure this.

You R the BEST!!!


Yaad ayenge woh pal….

What is ‘special’? How would you make a particular event special? If given a choice between selecting one from all the special moments of your life, which one would you choose? How would you rate one event as more special than the other? For all these questions, as of now at least, the answer for me is My Birthday. It is the day that celebrates my very existence! Now why should you believe that my birthday is truly ‘THE ONE’…? Well in this respect I can safely say that, “ Apun ko 24 years ka experience hai :)….”

In the formative years of my life, it was special because it was a day when I would wear ‘colored clothes’ (those days that’s what we called Non-Uniform clothes) to school, distribute sweets in the class (which made me feel that I ruled the class then) and one day when no one would or rather was allowed to yell at me 🙂 then in college it became special because of the hajar parties I had, the many surprises and even more gifts…. But now it is special to me, because this is what people around me make me feel on this day. Everyone would go that extra mile to make me smile a little longer through the year!!!! I always acknowledged this sweet thing that everyone did for me every year but then some part of me always wanted to keep these moments not only in the by-lanes of my memory but also as instruments giving me vicarious pleasure when the chips were down. That’s when I started to pen down my thoughts; something like ‘Memoirs of Sharmili’ if you may say so.

Frankly I don’t remember exactly when I started to write down everything that happened on 22nd July…. But what I do remember is that as time went by I added new dimensions to this habit…. Slowly I started to try and stay up the entire day…. An hour spent sleeping was an hour wasted of my special day… then I started to note down every call, every message and every wish that I got (as childish as it my sound)… but I had a justification for all those who told me that this was childish…. That it is always nice to know that so many people took time out of their hectic lives and thought of me on this day and they took pains to just to pass on their good wishes to me… this is definitely something that adds to the specialty of the day, doesn’t it?

So as birthdays passed my, these parameters remained the same but what changed were the goals…. Meaning initially I stayed up for 19 hours, then 21 hours and finally reaching that golden number of 24 hours…. Similarly for the wish list…. First it was just a list of names who wished me, then became a list which had to cross a magical figure of 100 and finally it became a list which assured that the names of all those in my close circle wished me…. But the most satisfying part were the write-ups…. Every tiny detail was entered in them…. Friends gave a surprise visit or a surprise party, a friend who overcame all the long distance difficulties just to ensure that their gifts and wishes reached me on this day, a family who did everything in their capacity to brighten my day, flowers which were sent at my doorstep early morning so that their freshness freshens my day….. Though time dimmed the luster of the gifts, dried the flowers in the bouquet and reduced the impact of the surprises, they have become immortal through those word documents that I kept as birthday-records…. So true and so real are they that if in 2006 I read what happened in any of the years before; it would be like reliving that day again!!!!

So in these 24 years I have had awesome birthdays but I have also had many troughs when I felt unhappy, many reasons to crib, many instances when I felt extremely unlucky…. I know this is in accordance of principle, happiness and sadness alternate each other, but it is very difficult to be practical then…. But in these harrowing times; it is the affection of so many people, the love and the thoughtfulness of all who care; that the support of Lady Luck, that I felt then, carried me through these lows till the next year, when the supplies got replenished twice as much ON THE SAME DAY – 22nd July!!!!!