… of Friends and Friendships, the Bonds of a Lifetime…

As Arnav and I browsed through the various friendship bands for his friends, I was taken back in time, when I did the same with much excitement. I remembered how the larger part of our day was spent with friends. A luxury we lose as we grow up. With a hectic work life and weekends devoted to household chores, unfortunately friends and friendship seem to have taken a backseat.

But this friendship day seems to have come to me with a message. This morning I was pleasantly surprised to receive a friendship day message from a friend who managed to dig out a picture and a card I gave him years ago! Yesterday we spent a nice evening with some close friends catching up on our lives, sharing our stresses and just relaxing. We must have met after many months – this, despite the fact that we perhaps live within 10 kilometers of each other – which is considered close in a city like Delhi.

From being someone who loved to make friends, as many as possible (I was never able to decide who not to invite for my birthdays!), chatted long hours on the phone, had day spends and night outs with them, I am now a person whose interactions with the outside world are mainly dependent on Whatsapp and Facebook. Real conversations with friends are far and few between. And I am not alone in this. I know most of us are stuck between the home and the office. And those of us who are not – are lucky. Or maybe that’s being unfair to them. They are not lucky – they have made the conscious choice to make time for their friends and reach out.

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But friendship is evergreen. No matter how much the distance or years between buddies, friendship always blossoms when friends meet. Our hearts do not know how old our bodies may have become, they instantly connect as the little children or teenagers we were when we met. A few months ago I met one of my school friends at her apartment and it was as if we had never been apart. The laughter flew as easily as it did in our classroom and after catching up we relished some of our school memories together. She and I spent a good part of our classroom time exploding into laughter or just doodling messages to each other. We did just that (except the doodling) when we met.

Or the time I met a college friend recently when I visited her city, nothing seemed to have changed since we last met. Or whenever I meet my best friend from school, our conversation always goes back to how we used to tease my husband (also a school friend!) and how the three of us had spent so much fun time together.

Like wine, friendship becomes better with age. I see that when I see my mum and her best friend together. They have been with each other through all stages of life and while their conversations have changed – from boys to husbands to children and grandchildren, their friendship has not. Recently mum was in Bombay for a month and she and her friend met almost everyday – except the last few days. It tickled my sister and I no end, when they both lamented about the days they couldn’t meet and how their conversations were still unfinished!

Last year when we went to the U.S. my mum met her school friend after more than 40 years! She brought along with her pictures of them together and those few hours were really precious. They had lost contact years ago and I remember that for years my mother had tried to trace her without luck. And apparently she had been trying to do the same. Social media finally came to the rescue when she managed to find her through Facebook!

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Talking about social media, I think it has played a very important role in bringing lost friends together. When I first joined Orkut (That’s what it was right?!), my biggest excitement was finding long lost friends from school and college! When my parents moved to Delhi, my dad was delighted to have traced many of his school and college friends through Facebook and they maintained contact through their Whatsapp groups, planning meet ups and excursions. Thanks to that we were able to gather a good number of his friends from school and college for his 70th birthday.

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But friendship is not limited to friends. It is a bond that transcends all relationships. Our family shared a strong bond of friendship – our parents were our confidantes, our friends. They were the first people, my sister and I went to in times of need. There were no secrets between us. They were always there to guide and never to judge. My sister and I were very close – she was the one I opened up to – no one else was privy to my deepest thoughts.

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And then there are cousins – they are the friends with all the insider info! The special bond that comes from sharing the genes and being scolded by two mothers at the same time cannot be compared with any other! I absolutely adored my cousins and desperately waited for holidays so I could go meet them. My classmates got tired of hearing about them as holidays came near! And as I was falling in love, it was my cousin who was privy to my innermost feelings and who got to hear all about the last time I met HIM!

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Many of you may know, that I married a school friend and I think we share a strong bond and mutual respect because of the years of friendship that preceded the romance. My sister also married a close friend of mine – and now the four of us share a bond that preceded our marriages. There will not be too many brothers-in-law who share such a strong relationship as these two do.

I feel very lucky to have found strong friendships at all stages of my life. And now as I grow older, I want to make sure they all continue to be with me. I know I have been busy and have not managed to keep up with all of them, but I promise to try more. And maybe so should you 🙂

Happy Friendship Day to you and call me when you can!!

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Puddles and Rainbows, Reliving a Childhood

Looks like the monsoons have finally reached Delhi and we have some respite from this heat. Unfortunately though, monsoons seem to have become a double edged sword nowadays. Along with the rains and the cool breeze, come traffic jams, water logged roads, clogged drains, dengue and malaria.

It’s a pity though. We seem to have forgotten the enjoyment and romance of the rains. Sitting in our AC offices or cars, living in flats with only small balconies to substitute for a terrace or garden, we don’t remember how it was to feel the rain on our faces, the happiness in our being and the fragrance in our mind. Ooh I just love the sondhi mitti ki khushboo! (FACT ALERT: did you know by the way that the fragrance is caused by the bacteria residing under the soil)

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As I idle with my cup of steaming chai with some hot pakori, my mind drifts to the days when rains were awaited with eagerness. I remember a particular day , a Sunday I think, when the family was similarly enjoying chai pakoda in our verandah, and the rains and breeze washed over us. I can still remember the coolness of the breeze, the slight chill from the damp clothes, and the warmth of the family sitting around. I think I had a cold so was not allowed to go dance in the rain and had to satisfy myself with dipping my feet a little in the running water!

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Another Sunday, lovely weather after morning rains, an impromptu picnic is planned. Papa, mummy, Aditi and I. We pack some quick food in a basket, pick some sheets and off we go! After a pleasant lunch in some park, we gaze at the clean and recently washed sky, hoping for a rainbow to break out. It doesn’t. We come back home, get on the terrace and a beautiful rainbow stretched across the Aravalis smiles at us! And then we notice a lighter one, just behind it!

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Yet another memory comes unannounced. I am four, maybe five, in Delhi and my cousin and I decide to race on the road, still wet after a sudden bout of rain. Perhaps we were impatient after being coddled inside home for long. We both run, I am trailing my cousin, and crash!, I fall. Crash again, and he falls as well!! Both of us return home, with scraped knees, a little limp and a smile on our faces. But I am jealous when I see his mother put some red paint on the bruised knee, while my mother proceeds to put some boring white antiseptic on me!

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Paper boats! Oh how can one not think of them while talking about rains. I think it dredges a special kind of nostalgia in all of us. After all, Paper Boat, a big brand now, has developed their entire marketing strategy around the nostalgia of our childhood! Renu, a friend from school, beautifully describes those days as young, dreamy and naive. She fondly remembers racing boats with her brothers and imagining the adventures her boat would have once it disappeared down the manhole! Little did she know that manholes in Jaipur never reach the sea. 🙂

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I am reminded of days when it rained during school hours. Getting wet, squelchy shoes and socks – both disgusting and exciting at the same time, sitting barefoot in class, examining swollen and wrinkled feet and fingers (still don’t what is so attractive about those), wet bag and hopefully dry books inside, my pink raincoat (not very effective in heavy rains) and red gumboots (I simply loved them!).

There is something about the cool breeze, the damp skin and young hearts, that makes monsoons the most romantic of seasons! I remember in the first year of our dating, Kapil and I were sitting on the porch of his college and it suddenly started to pour. Before I could react, he ran out in the rain like a little boy, feeling the rain on his face, getting drenched. I fell in love with him all over again. (Though in those days, anything could make me fall in love with him again and again!)

A more recent memory, perhaps when we were still innocent and carefree. They were Arnav’s first monsoons. The three of us spent a lazy day at Dilli Haat, which ended with a sudden shower. Totally unprepared we ran for cover, but by then Arnav was all wet. But that didn’t deter us from enjoying the day! (It is another matter that Arnav got his first high fever the next day!!).

But it’s been a while since I enjoyed the rains, really enjoyed them I mean. A cousin after reading my last blog told me to chill. And I think it is a good time to take her advice. Listing some of the fun things I could plan to do these monsoons. And so could you.

  • get drenched, (like isn’t it the first obvious thing to do?) and dance (ahem, that I definitely can’t do – you can try if you want)
  • play in the mud, make some mud pies and don’t forget to get dirty (hmm, I think I am going to like that…. need to find a park though!)
  • don’t forget the boat! make lots of boats, decorate them, make some rafts out of ice cream sticks…
  • go for a nature walk. bring out the gumboots (well I will have to buy some – the red ones won’t fit anymore) and go for a walk. bring back some earthworms and toads 😀
  • And carry the camera (or the phone)! everything looks lovely after a rainshower and one might be rewarded by a beautiful rainbow!
  • Jump in the puddles! you know I was such a goodie goodie – I have NEVER done that! Ya really. SO I must, I must, I must do this.
  • Find a nice monument or a beach or some cafe and just sit… and talk…and listen to the rain
  • Enjoy a wet kiss in the rain (mmmmm… sounds nice!!! DAMN, need to convince the stuffy husband for that)
  • if not that, at least convince him for a walk hand in hand!! (Ya I know, I wrote a long blog about our romance – but you must realise it has been 13 years since we got married AND more importantly I have a boring husband!)
  • end the day with some hot hot tea and piping hot pakoras!!

And when you think about chai pakora – think of getting this awesome tea set designed by Kapil (Sorry, I know I am shamelessly promoting him – but isn’t that what a good wife should do?)

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Have a great monsoon and do tell me what you are planning to do!

Soulmates, the Entire Universe Conspired to Bring Together

Remember Om Kapoor (Shahrukh) in Om Shanti Om, “agar kisi cheez ko shiddat se chaho to saari kaynat use tumse milane mein lag jati hai” or the original from The Alchemist “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

So what chance do you think a girl can have against a boy who decides at age 7 that she is his best friend and he wants to spend his life with her? Practically none. At least I didn’t. That’s our story – A match – the Universe conspired to bring together.

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We started school together – in class 1. Our families knew each other and therefore so did we. As far as I was concerned that’s the reason he was invited to my birthday parties. We became close friends in teenage and stayed so till end of school – at which point he decided to come clean with his real feelings – which were quite strong and took me by surprise. (As always like the clueless girl in movies). I was however, quite sure that a) this is no age for a relationship and b) he was definitely not the prince charming I wanted – quite the opposite in fact. (NOT tall, NOT dashing, NOT the extrovert, actually nothing that I expected!) He was more of the guide who advised me on boys and relationships (not surprisingly he always warned me off any of my crushes!!!) (also now I realise, why he advocated the merits of marriage when I was in the “marriage is bad” phase.)

So long story short – I said Sorry, this is not the time and you are not the one I am looking for. BUT we can remain friends, if you want. (Only now I realise how traumatic friendzoning is!) So sure was I that he is not the right guy, I told my dad that IF EVER I fall for him in the future, my dad will remind me and tell me not to marry him!

And then both of us went to Delhi to our different colleges, with a promise to stay in touch. I realized too soon that this fake sort of a friendship wasn’t going to work – it just made him feel worse and so we decided not to meet anymore. And I thought that is THAT!

But what I had not accounted for was the UNIVERSE. The universe that was conspiring behind my back. After two years of not meeting, not talking, we met by a chance. And then he said those magic words, (No, not I love you) – he said, “I have gotten over you”. This sentence had a profound impact on me and I felt like a free bird after years. The guilt that had enveloped me, evaporated instantly.

Next, we met at a friend’s place those summer holidays and to THIS DATE, I don’t know why I told him that I would like to be friends again. We travelled back to Delhi together, with a promise to meet again. And by the time we met the next day, I had fallen in love. (I know, this sounds ridiculous even to me, but that’s how it was – when it is the universe, you can’t really question it).

And that was the start of a relationship so deep and intense – I had not known anything like that before. Busy with our studies, we did not have the luxury of time, and met for a few short hours. These meetings were desperately awaited – and I remember the instant grins that covered our faces, as soon as we sighted each other. Even now, whenever we meet, we cannot hold back the grin!

There was so much to say and so little time! I started to write to him in a notebook, pouring in every little feeling and thought, which I would read out when we met. Emotions so raw and pure and that I find it difficult to read that notebook again. He expressed through his verse. He would give me scraps of paper he wrote on and I would painstakingly copy it out in another diary, dotting it with little flowers and leaves I habitually collected. The two notebooks are now our little treasure – a souvenir of the first year of our relationship – both written in Hindi. Hindi – I know now, is the language of my heart – and English the language of my brain.

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After that one year of pure bliss we had to face the reality of separation – I had to go for further studies. So on I went, both of us realizing that many relationships do not survive the distance. And there were many friends who assured us, this would not last. However, we survived and not for one or two years – but for all of six years as we studied and worked in different cities. And now today, we celebrate our thirteenth Wedding anniversary.

After years of separation and longing, finally we started on our marital journey. (to be fair, my dad did remind me of my earlier wishes!!) As our love matured, we also realized that we were two very different persons. In fact one can say entirely opposite! Starting from food, to choice of entertainment to our right and left brain differences! He loves eating out, I am the daal roti person, he prefers to act on impulse, I can barely move without planning, being on time is sacrosanct for me – an inconvenience for him, he loves to shop, I only bother when I really need something, he likes to spend, I prefer to save, he loves the room chilled, I prefer being warm and cozy (except, on days I want lower temperatures, he is mysteriously feeling cold!)

But we adjusted to each other – adapting and respecting each other’s view point. Our differences and our ability to think beyond them has become our strength. We have, I believe become the wind beneath each other’s wings. Looking not at each other, but towards the same direction.

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I was always pretty sure of never marrying an entrepreneur. But when he decided to tread the tough path of an entrepreneur, I supported him and my job brought the much needed security. When I was offered a good role in Mumbai, he was the one who insisted I take it and that we could manage living separately. Even now, when I think about international positions, he is the one who says go ahead, we will manage. Despite being a compulsive planner, I am learning from him that once you tread a path solutions may follow. The lack of an answer should not stop us from moving ahead.

Our differences make us a stronger unit. When we heard Anvay’s diagnosis, it was he who lifted me. His ability to take it in his stride, brought me out of my sorrow. When he cried bitterly at my father’s passing, I held him and when I wept alone for my father, he held my hand.

Like any couple, we have had our share of differences. In fact we irritate each other all the time. My father used to say that we are like two daggers always pointed at each other – except that the daggers are made of butter. We have also had some big fights. But at the end of the day, when we met after work, neither could suppress the grin that suffused our faces.

So I live comfortably in the knowledge – till the grin remains, we are doing fine.

 

The first child – our experiments with Parenthood

Let me start by modifying an old adage – “The moment a child is born, parents are also born”. Both the mother and father step into parenthood together – an exciting but unknown journey. New parents are keen to do everything correctly, by the book and give their best shot at parenting.

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As parents, we believe that we are the ones imparting knowledge, but it is also equally true, that we are being taught by our children. Parenthood is a journey we undertake with our children, and the first child teaches us those first steps. He leads us on a path we have never tread before and he provides us the first opportunity to experiment our parenting skills! With this child, we learn how to be parents and simultaneously evolve as human beings.

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Arnav, our first born, gave us the gift of parenthood. It has been eight years, and the journey has been fantastic, peppered with fun, laughter, learning and not to mention, a fair share of challenges. Arnav evoked in us feelings we didn’t know existed. I will never forget my first look of the little pink creature. Tenderness assumed a whole new meaning! The little tidda – completely dependent on me for his every need. And he was my little doll!

And dad? He admitted that only now he really and truly understood the meaning of the word DARLING. (hmph, and I thought WE had a special thing going between us!!%*&#^%#%^). In office, he would go over and over again his little baby’s pics!! And let me break a stereotype here – supposedly men complain that their wives do not pay as much attention to them after the baby, in our case, I am the one who should file a complaint of negligence!

During pregnancy, I had naturally done a lot of googling on bringing up a baby, and even compiled it all in a book. But after Arnav was born, we ended up learning on the job, the book forgotten. I remember being scared of even holding him – he was so tiny and fragile! At the same time, I couldn’t imagine not co sleeping with him and overcame the fear of crushing him! And while we are on the subject of co sleeping – I would like to confess publicly how soppy we are as parents. Even as we moved Arnav to a separate room, we missed him a lot and kept bringing him back to our bed! And now with three kids – many times we still end up sleeping together! Yes, yes, I know three is a crowd and five is a railway platform!!

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Arnav was like an ideal baby, with a lovely temperament, didn’t make us stay up at nights, no howling, no colic, no tantrums. A hyperactive baby, but very easy to manage (unlike his bratty brother). The two’s were never terrible – we never had to use safety locks or clear away bottom drawers. We also let him be – apart from being conscious about his safety, we never really cared too much about where he was roaming or what he was licking and our floors were never mopped with Dettol. After all, we surmised, if he has to live in India, he might as well make peace with all the germs around!

We also agreed not to fuss too much about this new entrant and take life as it comes. We did not stop doing any of the things we did as a couple before. Consequently, he saw his first movie under the age of two months, went out with us everywhere, including a trip to Jodhpur and Jaisalmer in freezing December at 10 months, getting wet in the first monsoon rains and numerous trips to Jaipur to meet his grandparents. Our unsaid belief being that a child will adapt to the surroundings he is brought up in. Be careful before you fuss for total silence while the baby is sleeping – you are likely creating a problem for your own self. Let him learn to sleep wherever he is regardless of whatever noise there may be. No point constraining ourselves or mollycoddling the babies. In fact I think they are better off for it. My uncle and aunt who were in the television industry carried their infant daughter around everywhere – at shoots, on a scooter, in freezing cold, at unearthly hours… and she adjusted fine – and has grown up into a smart young woman.

Similarly with Arnav. I joined work when he was four months, and dad took on the primary responsibility. Dad would take Arnav to his workplace in his little baby basket, armed with his diapers and milk and our helper. He would coo his way through the day, drawing admiration from dad’s many employees! He also spent some time with grandparents in Jaipur (sans mum and dad) without any fuss! And then at eleven months he started going to a crèche, which also he adapted to pretty quickly.

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Kapil is totally right brain and I love reading. So naturally we were keen that Arnav picks up at least one of these attributes from us! We started buying him a lot of books pretty early and by age six, he was a voracious reader – both fiction and non fiction. Now he tells us facts we were never aware of – for example we had no idea that the word Google derives from Googolplex which is a number nearing infinity. (btw we are not the only clueless ones – a number of adults we checked with did not know this!!).

We also started doing theme birthday parties for him, starting his on 4th. These birthdays have become an annual event, where soon after one birthday ends, we all start planning for the next. Both dad and mum and even nana- nani have gone overboard, planning and executing these birthdays, and these have really worked wonders developing Arnav’s imagination and knowledge. For every theme, he gets books and gifts related to that theme and so do his little guests. As a result, Arnav (read geeky child) now has some awesome knowledge about various things such as dinosaurs, space, pirates and detectives! (and deadly combination of reading and theme parties has resulted in the demand for a Harry Potter theme next year combined with a wish list of potion books, spell books… you get the point!)

We also decided to expose him to various activities to let him explore and find out his interest areas. We sent him for dancing, for cricket etc. to see if he found a passion. (he didn’t). It is very easy for parents to expect the child to be interested in things that they love or think are right. A small example – Arnav had to choose an extra curricular activity this year – choice being a lot of things like music, dance, drama, IT, robotics, home science etc. I was quite sure he would choose either one of the performing arts (these are things I loved) or robotics (which I assumed he loved). He chose home science instead – because he loves to bake!

Another friend told me how he worked his daughter hard on karate and now she is a black belt at age 8. But despite this achievement, he will probably not push his second daughter as much. I think the key is to keep ourselves open to the child’s wishes and not impose our own.

We were also quite clear that our parent child relationship would be based on mutual respect. So Arnav was always given due respect as an individual and treated as an equal (even at age 3!). (That does not mean that I have never screamed at him for driving me crazy). Basically this meant that we gave his choice and voice equal importance. My sister and I could share anything with our parents without fear. This is what we would want too. So we have kept our channels of communication open. This would ensure he comes to us when in doubt or difficulty and would not hesitate to trust our opinion.

I would like to believe that our approach has helped create a strong bond of friendship between us. (When Arnav’s nursery teacher asked him who his best friend was, he said Kapil. It took her very long to figure out that he meant his dad!) It has also helped Arnav adjust to his new brothers with ease. (after being an only child for 7 years – it might have been tough on him.) Dad increased his father-son time with Arnav, taking him out in the evenings (to Reader’s Cafe) , having heart to heart chats etc. And thankfully Arnav has transitioned very well into the role of the older brother – more than happy to take care of his siblings (including wanting to tag along one of them to school!)

So far, so good. But it isn’t always this hunky dory. I feel sometimes that we may have carried on this buddy relationship too far! Meaning, that there are times when we find it difficult to discipline him regarding work, he also seems to have developed the idea that he knows everything, and is not always ready to listen to us. I also feel that we may have given him too much choice in all matters, something that is now boomeranging on us! There are some values, that I think are missing  – such as focus, diligence and commitment. But maybe that is too much to ask of an eight year old!

I have also learnt that parenting style needs to be tailored to the child’s personality. I have seen both my mother and mother in law practice this. Both Kapil and I have siblings very different from ourselves. And I have seen how in both cases our mothers adopted a different style with each sibling – grooming and guiding them. I am still trying to figure out my child’s personality and this is evolving.

So for now I feel we have the work cut out for us – it is a question of how much to steer him and how much to let him evolve on his own. How much to discipline vs how much to let him free. When to be firm? How firm? How strict? I am not yet sure I know the right balance.

But as we continue trying our best, I do remember that we are just the bows from which we have sent forth our children…

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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.