My daughter celebrated her 8th birthday on Sunday. Yes, the party was at home and there was no magician/ juggler/ fancy caterer.
The kids played games involving a lot of jumping around and they later ate cheese sandwich, gulabamuns, mini cutlets, wafers and gobs of cake off a thermacol plate. But the smiles when they left with their return gifts made it worth it all the effort.
Yes, hosting a party at home actually means a helluva lot of effort. The easier option is to go to McDonald or Pizza Hut. Just pay and they take over everything: menu, decoration, games, return gift. "Aaj kal ka fashion bhi to yehi hai," parents nod sagely.
Well, I'm not so sure. A home birthday party is a tradition. It's an excitment that has to be built up. The fun of putting up streamers and balloons the night before. Moving away furniture and planning the games. Deciding which music to play and what food to serve. And in our house, making a very special birthday cake.
I started this tradition when Nivedita was turning four because I wanted her to remember something special I did for her. So we always order one cake from a cake shop and bake one cake at home. It's the same cake every year: heart shaped, chocolate and covered with gems. The ghar ka cake holds its own against the frou frou frosting - most years.
I guess I'm being old fashioned. Recreating the 'just like when we were kids' kind of party. It's just a matter of time before she says,"I'm a big girl now," and wants to organise it differently. Perhaps at a Pizza Hut. And I'm ok with that.
Unless she expects me to host this kind of party. To which the answer is no, nyet, nada, never... period. You have to watch 'My Super Sweet 16' on VH 1 to really understand what I mean. But a wikipedia description should give you an idea:
My Super Sweet 16 is an MTV reality series documenting the travails of upper class teenagers preparing for various coming-of-age birthday parties... Apparent prerequisites for a Super Sweet 16 include:
an outrageous theme no one has thought of
invitations that are "impossible" to replicate
a grand entrance with a gorgeous escort
many glamorous, poster-size photographs
"VIP" group of close friends despite large guest list
one or two designer or specially-made outfits
a well-known musical performer or group
an expensive gift, usually a car
During the planning of the event, the sweet 16er usually gets upset that the parent isn't getting specific details right. In some cases, arguments arise over drapery or center pieces. In other cases, arguments arise over grand entrances, the birthday present, or the musical guest. Usually, it's the parent who is concerned about the cost of specific things, but almost always the sweet 16er states, "But I always get what I want" and does.
The one episode I saw featured 'Sophie', a much-too-plump almost 16 year old planning a Moulin Rouge theme party. Highlights of the show included:
- the girl swearing at her mother while buying her dress (bleep*bleep*bleep)
- snatching an invitation from someone who 'is not invited' (more *bleep* bleep *bleep)
- running after someone who stared at her 'rudely' to ask "why?" (*bleep *bleep *bleep).
She did have the perfect sweet 16 which 'everyone will remember for the longest time and talk about to their grandchildren'. Did I mention, she got a brand new BMW as a birthday gift from mommy as well?
Who can blame Sophie if her parents want her to have 'everything' as soon as she possibly can? If they can stand her abuse and her tantrums and try to buy her love only through 'stuff'. Which you can never get enough of. And which is not what you really need or want.
What Sophie clearly wanted was to be loved, admired and seen as popular. And there are other ways to achieve that. Money is a convenient shortcut but it has nothing to do with who you are. Money is camouflage used by a person who thinks no one will love and appreciate 'the real me'. Sooner or later, it stops working.
Which brings me to the tragic case of 16 year old Adnan Patrawala. 'Living with parents, party every night' reads his orkut profile. And now, orkut is being blamed for the boy being lured to his death. Ironically, one of Adnan's testimonials online is titled: 'Shootout at Orkutwala'.
The website may well have been the medium of entrapment. But the magnet was the lifestyle. Midday reports:
According to police sources, Adnan use to spend huge amount on his friends from Versova and Millat Nagar. “For the last couple of months, he was seen spending time in bad company. He was big-hearted and often spent thousands of rupees playing video and poker at entertainment parlours.
Though, he was not an adult and had no driving licence, he participated in friendly races in his Skoda on Express Highway,” a source who knew Adnan said.
Sophie and Adnan live continents apart but they're really very similar. Sadly, one kid's money bought fame in life. While the other's brought fame in death... God bless the poor kid's soul.