Yesterday was my first Expat Birthday!
It may not seem like such a special event to those of you who may read this blog, but being an expat you cherish the simple things that happen to you; and living in India makes one grateful for all of those little things that you miss from back home, because everywhere you look there are those in need....
My day began with a cup of coffee before work.....my first "Birthday" present of the day was a cup of coffee fixed just the way my loving wife knows I like it......with some chocolate syrup mixed in and a topping of whipped cream. It has been almost 11straight months that I have not been able to enjoy a cup of coffee, topped with whipped cream!....A little thing......but it was very special to me!
Did you know that on average, there are 3.56 BILLION Text Messages (SMS) sent everyday in the United States alone...(a statistic from December 08 that I found on a website)......I received one (1) from my/our son Parker...."Hey dad just wanted to say happy birthday and i love you. have a good day at work"...It reached my Blackberry at 7:33:35am, while I was being driven to work by our temporary driver..(later than usual because of my special cup of coffee). 7:30am IST on August 21st, translates to 9:00pm on August 20th for Parker in Baton Rouge......so my thoughtful son even made sure that he timed the message perfectly with the time differential....too cool! My only hope is that he didn't type the message with one hand on the steering wheel.... his phone in the other while driving! Parker's text message (SMS) will remain special to me for the rest of my life. How could such a simple message, from the billions sent yesterday, have such a HUGE impact on me?......It made me think about how life has changed for me in the past 48 years.... and before my thoughts turn too deep......I'll continue with my day!
An email from my brother that morning was also a highlight of my day! I have to share this line from his email..."Mama told us about the cocktail party that Linda is giving for you. That sounds so classy and like so much fun. We'll be there in spirit".....my third birthday present was the confession my lovely wife had to make to my brother. Her return email stated that while she "did organize the cocktail party" it was not necessarily in my honor.....it was the monthly "Cocktails for a Cause" get together of the members of the American Women's Association (AWA)in Delhi. More about the party a little later on, but I had a nice chuckle reading Linda's email explaining the "real truth" about my "classy party".
I received VERY.....VERY.....WARM Birthday Wishes from my colleagues at work.....they were so thoughtful I wound up with not one, but TWO Birthday Cakes.....and everyone sang and made me feel so very special. There were also some Indian yummies to go along with the cake.... Sonya and Ranjeeta had also arranged some long distance Birthday Wishes, on Skype, from the staff at the hotels we are managing in Jaipur and Vizag......the attention I was receiving from everyone made the long day of meetings much more enjoyable!
Just before finishing the day and leaving work for home, a huge rainstorm hit Delhi......it was certainly the worse storm we have witnessed since being in India.....I let Linda know I was on the way home and she quickly called me and let me know that she and Preston... were in the middle of cleaning up from the storm. The water came in such a downpour that the balconies we have on the north side of the house filled with water and it found its way inside from beneath the doors.....and not just a little.....an inch of rain water flooded our bedroom, kitchen and living rooms.....soaked the rugs.....by the time I arrived, the work was all done (Preston helped out tremendously and used the squeegee to remove the water. The floor, however, was still scattered with towels used to contain the water and keep it from spreading to other rooms. WET WET WET!!!!!
Then it was time for Linda and I to make our way to the house that "MY" Cocktail Party was taking place.....I was one of only three men at the party, which dwindled to two after the husband of the host retreated to his room to sleep......he woke up that morning in Bangkok.....and was exhausted.....but it was nice seeing the mutual friends that I have made through Linda's social connections.....The other "guy" at the party is my new friend Aaron; he works for the FAA and is attached to the US Embassy......I really had a wonderful time meeting him and talking about our experiences in India thus far. It is always interesting to get another EXPATS perspective on things and see how differently life is here for others....there are so many who simply do not enjoy their experience in India. When I hear such things...it makes me feel so fortunate for my family and I....and it was another simple thing that happened yesterday to make my birthday special.
AWA cocktail parties have yielded some special treats in the past...this one was no different .....allow me to elaborate......Most of the time, these parties feature some of the "creature comforts" of home.....wines from California, cheddar cheese like we get back in the States, 7-Up Cake......more wine from California.....real tortilla chips and Authentic 7 Layer dip to go with them...this may sound like such a trivial thing to most of you, but it was one of the little things I enjoyed on my first expat birthday....I was so busy at work that I did not have lunch.....so, after devouring a good portion, I had to tear myself away from it before I embarrassed my wife... So I started to mingle!
While in a conversation with Aaron (my new friend) and Ellen (a mutual friend of Linda and I) the conversation moved from fishing to photography to blogs.....very quickly! I had just finished explaining how much I had missed fishing and took up photography as a hobby.....just an amateur that gets a lucky photo sometimes......I started describing a recent picture that I had taken while in Jaipur, I felt was quite interesting and captured an certain essence of India. Ellen asked if I was going to share it or was she going to have to wait to see it in my blog......and then it began.......the blog conversation!
I told Ellen that I would be more than happy to share the picture with her.....and she even gave me a compliment about some of my photographs....... her compliment to me, was returned with a compliment to her, about her blog.........Aaron then asked about the content of our blogs and I commented that Ellen's blog was very popular and compared her blog's popularity to the column written by the fictitious author of "Sex in the City"....a former TV show that some of you can relate to......Ellen of course denied it in a very humble way, however, not before mentioning that she was just about to reach over 50,000 visits to her blog site.....that's huge.....I pulled Linda by the arm and broke her away from the conversation she was having,(she is a reader/follower of Ellen's blog everyday......one of the masses)...."baby, did you hear that, Ellen has almost 50,000 visits to her blog?".....and then I made the mistake.....and mentioned, (pitifully I may add), "I recently just exceeded 1,100 visits to my blog"......and then Ellen let me have it right between the eyes!
"You are just too DRY"......DRY.....and then Linda, my wife of all people.....the one who my family believed is so wonderful for arranging my "classy cocktail party" .....looks at me with that "look"....the look that one typically makes when they want to console you but are agreeing with the other person's comment......I was crushed.....and I decided that it was time to make my way to the bar and fill my glass with some "grape juice" to console myself. "DRY"......I couldn't believe it......me....DRY?
There is no doubt that Ellen is a very accomplished "blogger"....she writes very well and has a huge audience.....as a matter of fact her blog was recently awarded one of the Top Ten Expatriate Blogs in the World.....quite impressive. Not that she needs it, but it will be a cold day in hell for me to ever mention the name of her blog......she needs no more followers, and if you happen to be reading mine, I want to keep you....I'm afraid that you may join Linda who finds Ellen much more entertaining.......it may be an act of desperation.....but I don't care.
In the end, I couldn't stay mad at her for very long, because I learned that she was the "expat" in the group responsible for making/bringing the 7 Layer Dip I was enjoying earlier......you see even though she crushed my ego....she was also inadvertently responsible for making my birthday special.
My birthday ended with Linda making me two grilled cheese sandwiches with some of the American Cheese Slices she brought back in her suitcase....I enjoyed them while Preston and I were watching "Seabiscuit" on TV. I woke up at 3:00am to find him fast asleep on the couch...turned out the TV and sent him to bed.......
My mouth was "DRY" .......so before joining Linda I took a mouthful of water from a handy bottle in the bathroom......held it before swallowing........and thought once more before going to bed..... of my very DRY blog.