indian birthdays defy calculation

coconut As I slide gently, inexorably towards five-zero, my conversations, more and more, seem to take on a note of pontification. We could be talking about a movie, a dress, a dinner, a friend, and Dhanno will look at me and say, a little querulously, “Mama, are we now talking about life?” A cousin, a few months younger than me, just celebrated his 51st birthday, by the Gujarati calendar. This Gujarati calendar is a lunar calendar, but one specific to our community, which ensures that we are out of step with everyone else in the world, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isaai. And because it has 14 days lesser than the Gregorian calendar, the years pile on thicker and faster than they ought to. The thickness also comes from too much rich food, too much and too rich. The Gujarati birthday is marked by some apparently well-meaning people knocking you on the head with a dry coconut. The English birthday on the other hand, involves cake. It does not require too much deduction to surmise which birthday I am setting store by. So, yes, I am going to continue being 48 for as many days as I can, until the very last day. And then, I will be 49, in a week or so. And no, that does not mean, that I will be 50 running. Thank you very much. Meanwhile, there is always Maya. May you live for thousands of years. May each year have 50000 days.


  1. Happy Birthday in the future!
    May you be 48 for years to come and that is in fact true.
    We both are, in fact, twenty. Twenty-plus something, but twenty nevertheless. I for myself find the year 29 very nice. Has a round feeling to it, as if on a verge to something. So if I can be 29, why can’t you be 48?
    But that is all not true, at least, in my case. It seems, I look forward to getting older. When asked I always tell my running/going-on age.
    So, my dear Banno, my dear hariyale Banno, may every day in the year to come bring-in a new you and celebrate the good-old virtues in you!

  2. An echo of sorts to Harvey’s comment above. I’ve always been 27. Even when you were invited to the 42nd bash. There’ll be always many calendars that we can use as tape to measure time, but we gotta rely on our own mental calendar, no? Happy whatever-your-age-is-th Birthday๐Ÿ˜€

  3. Hey, nothing wrong with being in your 50s! I’ve been there close to three years now and it hasn’t hurt me a bit, although that’s maybe because in my head I’m more like 84.

    • Memsaab, no, nothing wrong with the 50s or 60s or 80s for that matter. I am looking forward to dancing like a tapori when I am 80, I hope so. It’s just the ‘running’ concept that amuses me. And are you 84? God, you don’t look it.๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Banno, It is not just the Gujarati calendar – our calendar (Malayali) also follows the lunar calendar, so 28 days is one month.๐Ÿ™‚

    You could be like Elaide, my Brazilian friend who, when she turned 35, flatly declared that she only knew how to count backwards.

    So, from an old Celtic blessing: “May the most you wish for be the least you get. May the best times you have ever had be the worst you will ever see.”

    And from me, with all affection: I wish that sorrow steps lightly by your door, not crossing its threshold, while laughter tarries awhile at your hearth; that contentment follows in its wake and shuts the window on life’s frustrations. May your fears subside, and stresses reduce, if not disappear completely. I wish you joy, and health, and happiness. I wish you fulfilment of all your deepest dreams and long-buried desires; and above all, I wish you the dreams themselves, for what use this life if we cannot dream?

  5. Happy birthday, Banno! And since I always end up looking at the mirror and wondering: “Why are my hair so grey when I’m still so young?” – we’re all in the same boat. So many years totted up on the calendar, but inside still in our 20s or whatever.๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Enjoy your fifties whenever they finally do arrive!
    Saal mein pachaas hazaar din seems a bit too much, as does living for thousands of years. maybe they are singing about our immortal souls. In any case, time and age are both so relative.

    • Dipali, I am sure I will. I think as long as you remain healthy, age is relative. I know, living for thousands of years, multiplied by thousands of days, seems really tedious. I wonder what one would do for so long, how one would fill the days?

  7. Happy Birthday (Belated I think) – and I’m looking forward to the 50s – found the 40s very liberating. No more living up to anyone’s expectations๐Ÿ™‚

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