A Birthday Guilt-Trip

Yesterday was my birthday. I wasn’t expecting to do too much and I also wasn’t expecting to throw my own party, buy my own cake, and spend the evening stuffing cake into Commander Landlord’s mouth.

What do you normally expect to do on your birthday? At the least, you expect someone to remember. You might expect a card, an email, or maybe one of those nifty e-cards. Perhaps you are expecting a special day with a little more freedom than most days. Something like, “Sure, you can take the last Doctor Pepper, after all…. it’s your birthday.”

Having and not having expectations in SouthAsiaLand is like someone asking you, “Does your face hurt?” This is one of life’s great mysteries because there is no correct response to this question. Whether you say “yes” or “no” the response will be the same; “Well it sure is killing me!”

When expectations go unmet, disappointment follows like that laughing dog in Duck Hunt when your trusty three shooter runs out. Why do you only get three bullets? Why does the gun magically go on safety when the laughing dog pops out?

Almost as bad as unmet expectations… is unexpectation. Okay, that’s not really a word, but it should be, because not having expectations can be equally dangerous.

At this point it would be beneficial to review an age-old saying that is of no help: “Expect the Unexpected.” Although, if something is truly unexpected, then good luck expecting it.

Okay, on with the story…

So … Happy Birthday to me. I said to myself, “today, I am going to hang out, eat cookies, open some gifts, and do whatever I want.” This was a great plan until I walked outside (into SouthAsiaLand). I was so happy to be greeted with the annual Birthday mantra, “Happy Birthday! Commander Landlord’s kids proceeded to ask, “Adamz Bhaiya (big-brother) when are you throwing the party and what kinds of cake and toffees are you bringing?”

“What kind of what am I bringing where?” I said, as the Duck Hunt dog began laughing at me in my mind.

“Oh, Adamz Bhaiya you must have a party with cake and toffees!” they cross-culturally commanded, “If you don’t that is very bad.”

In my mind this began ranking up with the other things that the Commander Landlord told me were “compulsory.” Such as, using hair oil, not drinking cold drinks (makes you sick), and drinking mango milkshakes every morning (okay that one I went with).

Some might call it culture shock or just plain indignation, but I decided not to take their “advice” on the whole throwing myself a birthday party (with toffees and cake… in case you missed that). So I left the Commander’s residence and went out with my other friends for the day. We went out to dinner and ate chocolate chip cookies that were awoosome.

Shortly after dinner I received a call from the Commander inquiring about what time I would be home to have the party with the cake and the yadda-yadda. This is when the guilt trip began. I agreed to be back around nine-ish so at least I could make an appearance.

We finally arrived back at the Commander’s Palace (a.k.a. home) at 9:15 to find that his Excellency and his royal subjects had already gone to sleep. This, actually, was a nice gift, but not as nice as the gift that awaited me upstairs in front of my door.

Awaiting my arrival was the most awesome piece of SouthAsiaLand art I have ever seen. As you can see, I will be able to cherish those epic words “Have a Nice Day” for the rest of my years. This highly reflective picture will likely give me something to dream about on those 100+ days.

It is now that I remember telling myself last year around this time not to tell anyone when my birthday was. I didn’t learn this cultural nugget the first time so this year I wanted to learn it all over again.

Actually, in all honesty, I think I really have learned something from my mistakes this time. Next year, I will celebrate my birthday ‘my way’ the day before or after, but the SouthAsiaLand way on the day itself.

After all, when in Rome … throw yourself a party with cake and toffees.