Warning: This is a longish post, but consider the fact that it's about one of the longest evenings of my life.
Last Sunday, my doorbell rang late at night. I should have looked through the spyhole, but having watched Rajni on DD at an impressionable age, I opened the door instead with a bright smile on my face (don’t know how she carried it off 16 times in each episode, all I succeed in doing is to have courier guys suspiciously at my id).
My neighbour was standing outside. Although we had lived in the same building for four years, I only knew what her profile looked like when we rode in the same lift. Now here she was, giving me a full frontal view of her face.
Sorry! I automatically mumbled my standard late night greeting to all neighbours, then realised the music wasn’t even on. Seconds later I also realised that she was smiling.
The result of that meeting was historic. I had been invited to a birthday party of a child for the first time in decades. Well, technically, my baby daughter was invited, but since she can’t walk yet, I was invited in the capacity of a limo.
Yesterday was the big day. We walked to the venue. OK technically, I walked, till my daughter kicked me in the flanks to spur me into a fast trot. We finished first effortlessly, and got to the party before the hostess. Incidentally, it makes me wonder why such a big deal is being made of saving Tipu Sultan’s horse breeding farm. You don't need to breed winners, just get a few babies on the most ordinary nags and watch them fly.
Looking at the bright side, the good thing about getting there early was that no one saw my reaction to the place. The doorway, pillars, almost everything in the room was made of balloons.
Baboon lisped my daughter. No baby, it’s balloon I corrected, then realised she was looking at me. I collected myself, and tried to look as though it was perfectly normal to walk into a world of helium with giant teddy bears frolicking around.
One of them was clearly a trainee teddy bear or an aspiring puma, because he lunged at us in the uncuddliest way. I jumped back in fright, and landed against a pillar of balloons that squeaked their disapproval. And that was how the hostess and the birthday girl saw me as they walked in.
“Hahaha” I whimpered, as though it was a great joke to get accosted by a monster in fur. “Great party, great party. You must have worked really hard to set this up.”
No said the lady. The event manager took care of everything.
Ah. I had always thought of event managers as people who got things done for launch conferences and concerts, but clearly this was much more challenging. Because by now, the other guests started arriving in droves.
The entertainment console got into action and the miniature amusement park ride worked like clockwork. Kids in designer wear looked unmoved by the spectacle around. I would have dehydrated to a twig from having my jaw drop so often, had waiters in suits not regularly replenished me with beverages. Although it was my daughter’s first party, she seemed very composed in the strange environment and waved and smiled at the right places.
Then the cake arrived with 6 candles on it. I panicked. I had thought the kid was turning five, I swear the card had said so. I considered sneaking to the pile of presents and correcting the age on the books I had inscribed with great care, but it was too late. The candles were being lit. Good thing too, I was saved the embarrassment of looking like a kleptomaniac by the lighting of the first candle. It opened up into a flower and was plucked out of the cake. I clapped in genuine relief, till I realised everyone was looking at me.
The rest of the evening made me want to look for a giant teddy bear costume to hide in. The other mothers chatted about milestones, and it seemed as though all their kids had mastered calculus in the second trimester. “What is your daughter eating these days?” one asked me to include me in the conversation. Food I responded eagerly, and she looked at me kindly as though I was challenged in every way possible.
Finally, it was time to leave. I cantered back with my daughter, who was repeatedly squeezing her return gift to make it squeak. I thought of my daughter’s birthday, which is coming up in eight months, and instantly felt 600 wrinkles sprout on my face. And all the way home, my squeaks drowned out those of my daughter’s toy.