I Wish to See 2019….

This was my father’s New Year wish for 2018. To be able to live through this year. The wish was not granted. He passed away in February, soon after making this wish. My sister discovered this, in the online diary he kept. We went through his past logs and found out that he had made the same wish on January 1, 2017 too – that he wanted to see 2018. At least he fulfilled that wish. We were comforted.

So, we realized, he had been aware of his numbered days, that his body was becoming frail. And his will to live became stronger. This is called jijivisha in Hindi. A very powerful word. It is this will to live that defines us.

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Nobody who saw him would have thought that he was unwell. And neither did he let anyone believe that. His last few years were full of activity – his mind always involved in creating something. He wrote books, stories, made new games – card games, board games, made new gadgets and what not. If I had to learn one thing from him, it would be this – To keep living, to keep creating, to keep moving and not stopping.

So, this was him – full of life and full of love for people he cared for. An idealist, who believed in the power of the individual and an atheist who believed that humans use God and meaningless rituals and superstitions as a crutch to live life. While other parents wish their children the Best of Luck before exams, our father wished us the Best of Ourselves. In my autograph book, he wrote – “never quote others, reach a level where others quote you”. Not surprisingly, towards the last few pages of that diary – his quote came back – from someone else!! I am still striving to get there – to a place where I can perhaps inspire others or influence their lives in a positive way.

A very supportive father, who believed completely in his daughters. I was never questioned about any decision I ever made – be it the choice of stream (commerce) or choice of career (rural management) or the person I chose to marry. That is what contributes to our innate sense of confidence. That is what guides me when things seem bleak. As a parent, I must remember to instill that kind of self confidence in my children – the spine that will help them through any crisis.

Our parents displayed so much faith in us that we turned out to be very responsible daughters. We never kept anything at all from them and felt totally free in sharing what we felt. Trust begets trust.

A very gentle and caring man. Devoted to those he loved. By his mother’s side during her last days focused on fulfilling her needs. In the last year of his own life, a solid pillar of support for our new born twins. I don’t know how we would have managed without him.

Always young at heart, till his last breath perhaps. The first to step on the dance floor – he was well known for his Twist! I was always too shy to dance in public but loved my waltz with him. The New Year’s Eve dances with him were special. When satellite TV caught on in India – he was the one who started watching MTV and Channel V. Much before us! I need to remember this as I grow older – age is only in the mind.

It has been more than 6 months now. But it still seems like yesterday. I have remembered him everyday since and I especially remember him today. Today, he would have turned 74. A life well lived – but there was so much more life still in him. So many more things left to be said, to be discussed, to be debated….

Yesterday Arnav asked me the meaning of the quote, “all the world is a stage…” I told him that this world is like a stage where all of us are playing our parts. And unexpectedly he said – “And nanaji is out of his part”. I hope not. I just hope he has switched stages…. And is playing his part somewhere else.

Happy Birthday.

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(and even though I have copied above from the net, it reflects my feelings – and sorry there was no ownership so don’t know who to give credit to)

 

Birthday Time! Who wants to be an agent?!

I love birthdays! Mine is in February and I remember as soon as we stepped into the new year, I would start counting days to my birthday! That day made me feel so special! It was MINE! And I think that excitement was seeded in me because my mum was excited about it. She would stitch (herself) two new frocks for me – one that I could wear in the morning and the other at the party in the evening! The two frocks continued till pre primary years because after that the school didn’t allow coloured clothes even for the birthday girl (Oh Damn!)

Party planning would begin weeks before, where we detailed out the invitee list (I never could decide who not to invite), the party menu, games, the design of the new frock (heh heh) and finally the return gifts. Mumma would buy all kinds of odds and ends which we would wrap in colourful paper and give out as return gifts. It was as exciting as receiving the gifts. And then there was this whole fun of distributing sweets in class and then roaming around in school, going to every class and giving sweets to the class teachers. (totally pandered to my attention seeking self).

Well, unfortunately nothing lasts forever – and I grew up. The parties have now given way to dinner at some restaurant (blah!). So where does the excitement come from? Of course my child’s birthday! Since his 4th birthday, we have been having theme parties and my love for planning shows up in full force – a month or more of planning goes into each birthday! (Really, I know my alternate vocation was an event planner!) And now, we have all bought into this theme party thing. As soon as one birthday party is over – we start deciding the next theme! (I tell you, we are a bunch of obsessed people!)

Anyway, to cut the long story short – this year’s theme was around spies, agents and detectives. Planning involved deciding on the return gifts and party games, decorations and cake. Hours of internet search, pinterest and shopping from amazon. That’s what went into this year’s birthday. Sharing snippets for all of you below.

First the invites – we either get something online or my designer husband fashions something out of his brain. This time it was the internet. Thanks to halfahundredacrewood, I got some good printables for invites as well as other stuff, that I then customised for our party.

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Then came the planning for goodie bags. Amazon has been a saviour. I ordered most of the stuff online – the magnifying glasses were actually ordered in the US since I was travelling there just before the party! So here goes – have a look at the lovely goodies!

We had an agent notebook, an invisible ink pen, detective shades and a magnifying glass. There was of course chocolate for those times that an agent might have to go hungry while spying! We put it all in brown paper envelopes marked TOP SECRET and these were given out when the mission was accomplished. (Most of the stuff came from Amazon.)

The mission of course was Arnav’s birthday and no agent could finish it without going through a series of tests. Tests that measured the agents’ agility, flexibility, intelligence, memory and speed. So let’s see all that the young agents had to endure! (Long post alert!)

The first thing an agent did on arrival was his/ her identification. They had all brought their passport sized pictures and we stuck them on their ID cards and they were fingerprinted. Their specialisations were also mentioned on their IDs.

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The first test involved going under laser rays, and only those who managed to slip past the lowest gap cleared this round. We lowered the level of the last laser till only four were able to make it. You will see that we have used broad red ribbon for this. You could use red wool or red tape or even red party streamers. It may be a good idea to attach bells or ghungroos to these so that it would be obvious if someone touched it. Again, we did this according the space we had – if you have a small corridor, it would be even more fun to have children crawl through this. You can get some ideas here.

 

After this adrenaline pumping exercise, agents’ logical abilities were put to test. We gave them 3 sets of codes to crack. All the agents sat down so seriously for this exercise that I was worried they will think they were given an exam (indeed one or two of the kids called me ma’am!!). However, I later realised, they really enjoyed the activity, when some kids went back to the codes even after the activity! This is where I got my sheets, have a look if you want to.

After this was a test of speed and agility. We played a version of dog and the bone. Agents were divided into two teams of Russian and American agents and the contest was to get to the clue first. After all that mental hard work, this game got the agents up and running again! And then there was the memory test! We put an assortment of trinkets on a tray, showed it around for a few minutes and then asked the agents to write down all they could remember.

It was fun to see that after all this hard work, no kid seemed to be worried about food or the cake! But of course we were! So here we are, cake cutting finally! Of course the cake had to be detective themed!

For food – I just got a box each with some chips, a burger and a drink. After years of over ordering, we realised, that kids are not really very interested in eating at birthday parties!

We finally ended the party with a round of pass the dynamite. Basically, a take on the traditional passing the parcel, except that in this case, they were passing a bomb around and every time it exploded, the victim got a Blast (name of the chocolate!) and the winner got the fuse (name of another chocolate). Have a look at the dynamite below – and this is totally home production – Dear Husband’s creative skills put to full use! We wrapped a tin box in red paper and stuffed it full with chocolates. If you want you can attach a timer to it to add to the excitement.

Finally, the day was over and Arnav immediately started thinking about the theme fr next year’s party. We really enjoyed planning for the party and having it and so did the kids. And the best compliment was when one of the mums’ told me that her son asked her afterwards, why he didn’t have a birthday like this!

So any suggestions for next year’s party theme?!

P.S. If you liked this blog, keep a watch on this space as I will write about previous birthdays also.