My husband planned an extended birthday celebration for me over the weekend immediately preceding my actual birthday. We started out on Saturday afternoon with lunch at an Indian restaurant called Bombay Club in Cambridge where we had golgappas, papri chaat, and suji ka halwa, interspersed with some regular lunchtime dishes. Cambridge is basically a really lovely place, but I hadn't seen it come alive the way it did on that Saturday afternoon. It is full of places to shop, eat, or just hang out. Live music in parks, people basking in the sun, everybody relaxing - it was a good feeling.
We picked up a Strawberry Shortcake at a bakery in downtown Boston, which, Jatin told me, is supposed to be a rather popular and delicious cake. (He'd originally planned for the cake to be a surprise but he's not too good at surprises.) Now I tend to stick to chocolate and coffee flavours when it comes to dessert like cakes, mousse and cookies. So I was a tad doubtful about the cake. But this cake was quite something. Delicious, melt-in-my-mouth, and not at all heavy.
We spent Saturday evening exploring the more commercial areas of Boston. Jatin showed me the office building where he did his internship. We explored marketplaces, harbours, and the streets all evening.
Sunday morning started off with the ceremonious cutting of the birthday cake. Jatin brought in a random stranger from the apartment building to click some pictures for us and share the cake. In this country, it is quite safe to invite random people into your apartment and random people are really nice to you. I mean, she was supposed to be travelling, she said she hadn't had time to have breakfast that morning, and yet she came in and clicked our pictures and sat down with us for some cake.
Then Jatin had to go out for a little while. Now I have never cooked completely independently in my life before this. I surprised him by doing just that while he was gone. People have issues estimating how much salt and spices to put. I had trouble estimating how many potatoes to put. I cut up a few potatoes more than I would have liked to. So my mixed vegetables had no room left for the carrots, they had to make do with potatoes, beans and peas. Other than that, they were just fine. Both of us liked them. And my husband made some daal too.
I was pleasantly surprised with the wishes from some people, that started coming in a day early and more so, after midnight in India. Akash told me that he and the rest of the gang wanted to send me litchis like last year. Friends and family started calling me exactly when it was midnight in India. After midnight in our time zone, the calls just started pouring in from India and I was pleasantly surprised to the point of being a little overwhelmed by the volume of the calls, since I know people are a tad reluctant to make international calls from India, as I was too, unless I was calling one of my really good friends. (Out here, calls to India hardly cost anything if you use a calling card. So I am no longer reluctant, just lazy sometimes.) It felt really good to have so many people calling in from India, the calls spread out over about a day and a half because of the time difference. I felt really special, receiving so many international calls in one day. And then there was this surprise from Aman, my friend from my erstwhile workplace, who's been like an elder brother to me. He sent me a bouquet, a teddy bear, and chocolates. Now this is the first time somebody has sent me flowers in the States, and these are the most beautiful, sweetest-smelling flowers I've ever received. Even as I write this, the fragrance wafts towards me. The chocolates I've yet to taste.
In the evening, Jatin took me out for dinner at an Italian restaurant. I hadn't had Italian food here in the States so far, so I really enjoyed it. We had a chocolate volcano cake for dessert, which was absolutely amazing and just melted in my mouth. But of course, it was loaded with calories and I will make my way to the gym in about an hour from now, once my breakfast digests. Today is a day for the gym, not the outdoors. It is raining cats and dogs outside. Thankfully, we had bright, sunny skies over the weekend and on Monday, so going out was fun.
This was a really wonderful birthday for me, full of love and warmth, and being made to feel special. Thanks everyone for making it so.