Birthday #1

Gina writes:

Yesterday was my birthday...according to the English/Gregorian calendar. If I were a Hindu, I'd celebrate according to the Hindu calendar involving constellations and the Hindu months. The process is detailed here, but I'll summarize.

1. If you draw an imaginary line from you to the moon on the day you were born, the line passes through one of 27 star constellations (nakshatra). My constellation is Hastha (hand).
2. The Hindu calendar starts on March 22 and has 12 months of 30 or 31 days each. July 8 correlates to the month of Asadha.
3. For this year, during the month of Asadha, my star constellation is most visible (or something) on the day that corresponds to July 17 on the Gregorian calendar. So that's my Hindu birthday!

For my FIRST birthday, I think Corey could have come up with some great surprises or activities, but I had some ideas in mind, so I just gave him a list of things that I wanted.

First on the list, a hot bath in my kiddie pool! We were home from work on Monday (all of India was on strike) and it was a rainy, cold, lazy day. Perfect day for a bath. Corey boiled pot after pot of water to fill the pool (partway) and set me up with candles and wine and a good book and left me alone in bliss for an hour. Amazing!

Second on the list, he somehow agreed to do crafts with me for a night! I came up with the idea of filling the outline of an animal with scraps of fabric to make a patchwork animal wall hanging. Corey chose the frog from the designs I found and we started snipping. Here he is, deep in concentration, doing an incredible job of not letting me know how much he was loathing the experience!

The other gifts were easier, just took a little preparation. I wanted an ice cream sundae, so Corey brought back a HUGE container of "chocolate dressing" from his recent trip that was SO tasty on top of a big bowl of ice cream, with bananas and peanut butter and nuts. I was also hoping that he could convince the powers that be to arrange kheer (Indian rice pudding) to be made at work. Hot sweet goodness, with cinnamon and cashews, yum! Satabdi, who's in charge of the planning, actually arranged ALL my favorites, paneer chili, channa masala, and potato chutney!

As for celebrating at work, I knew that I was expected to bring sweets to share with the office. Instead of going to the sweet shop and getting Indian sweets that are only mediocre to my tastes, I made two loaves of banana bread. I've brought it in before and it's one non-Indian treat that is universally accepted and loved by everyone, so it works well as the "treat from the foreigner."

Besides that, I was just expecting a lot of comically formal handshakes from coworkers with a serious "Gina, happy birthday to you. Many happy returns." I can't figure it out, the formal holiday handshake is a mystery. However, I received gifts from a few coworkers and friends. A orange and yellow scarf that I'm wearing right now, a nice ceramic coffee cup, a little jewelry box, a bird figurine that lights up and plays music, two anklets that are ANOTHER part of traditional Indian jewelry, and a pair of earrings!

The day ended with a dinner at the most expensive restaurant in town, the Raj Residency. The other Koraput volunteer, Binu, Corey, and I ate a nice dinner for about $10 total. Then we went back to our house for sundaes! (Except there was some confusion because Binu didn't know what a sundae was, so was confused about why we were having an ice cream sundae on a Thursday!)

Birthday #1 was great, I can't wait for birthday #2!