Tuesday, February 5, 2008

a birthday party for reecha

quick side comment: i realized after writing the last blog post that my physical description of ashish was not sufficient. becca has touched on a few of his mannerisms, but honestly, words cannot describe the hilarious charicature that is that child. i wish we could upload pictures.

so, my birthday. when i say that we never know what is going to happen when laxmi shows up, i mean we have absolutely no clue what we will end up making, ingesting, or performing for her. such was my birthday. it started like any other day at Harka, waking up at 7:30, sitting around chopping veggies and cooking rice, washing a few articles of clothing, etc. Becca and I had decided to make our banana concoction after lunch, as not to disrupt the natural flow of food preparation. however, by that time all the buffalo dung that fuels the burners had run out, and we had to resort to cooking our sugar/banana/oil mixture using a portable-metal-oven-thing that you feed firewood into. it actually worked fabulously, resulting in some delicious sugary, bisuity, banana-y goodness that becca and i definitely licked the bowls and spoons clean of. it turned out kind of like that oreo cookie "dirt" stuff, but with more structure and less teeth-sticking.

around 4 o'clock Laxmi pulled up on her little purple moped and immediately started all fesitivity preparation. screaming at Becca to chop carrots, blow up balloons, and make a sign that read "Happy Birthday Britta", Laxmi resumed her title role as delgator of IMMEDIATE tasks, and the party had begun! Laxmi is generally a very taxing person to be around, as she is constantly moving and doing things, so we decided to take it at a more leisurely pace. however, what she had planned was more than hilarious. i was a tad scared because earlier in the day she had stopped by with two friends that she said would be attending my party later that evening. confused as to whether we were supposed to be throwing the party or she was, we decided to just stick with our banana stuff. luckily we did, as Laxmi not only brought the food and supplies, but my wardrobe as well. decked out in a red silk sari (straight from the closet of Laxmi herself, don't ask me how we are the same size...), bindi, necklaces, and HOT PINK lipstick, I looked ready for Hindi Ball 2008. it was a gorgeous dress, however later i was informed by a neighbor that only married women wear saris...which would explain other neighbors asking if i was married. one neighbor actually came up, told me i looked beautiful, and then went on in Nepali all whilst slapping my right butt cheek. not sure what that was about, but I would not be surprised if it had something to do with her son (whom two of the orphan home boys offered me for my birthday present, as a husband).

the remainder of the evening was filled with a ceremony of sorts, and i'm still not sure if this is the way they do birthdays in Nepal, or if it was their idea of what American birthdays are like. either way, it started with Becca and I (Becca was adorned with bindi and lipstick as well) sitting in front of the children as they sang approximately 25 rounds of Happy Birthday. while i was getting dressed, the children and Prim (house father) hung up a sign behind the seating area that read "Happy Brithday Birtta", which neither of us wanted to correct because it made the scene all the more hilarious. some of the kids gave me cards, one of which read, "you are my best love, Birtty", another that was a complete copy of their English book's page on birthdays, "You are invited you to my birthday party at 4pm on March 12th", and another adorned with a large picture of Hilary Duff. these were all eclipsed when two friends of Laxmi came with a cake, which read, "Happy Birthday Reecha". Laxmi still does not know my name. when she realized the mistake (after seeing the sign that read "Birtta") she apologized, but then also commented that the names were, "same same". this phrase has been used in varying circumstances throughout our stay in Nepal, and we still have no grasp of the myriad of meanings it has.

the night ensued with more rounds of happy birthday, blowing out candles, lighting new candles (blow out the 23, but let the 24 burn until they burn themselves out.. or light someone's clothes on fire), passing around party food (which was the motley assortment of carrots, mullah, chow mein noodles, an orange, hard candy, grapes, and our banana pie), and then passing around new notebooks and tikka for all the children. the night would not be complete without making us dance in front of everyone, so they busted out the drum and started singing. because they will never join us (4-year-old Secil will, if we make him), they basically form a circle in the middle of which we dance like hippie-children. they also made us do "American dances", and as Becca and I deemed it probably inappropriate to bust out anything hip-hop in nature, we settled for an odd rendition of the electric slide and some disco. though the party was wholly unexpected, it turned out to be super fun. the kids had a great time (it was the first time some of them had had cake, and some of them had 3 helpings of our banana creation) and we went to bed with the sweet stain of hot pink lipstick and tikka on our faces.

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