Birthday!

My birthday was yesterday, but I’m still young enough not to feel sad about growing a year older! I share my birthday with one of my Indian friends and my great aunt, so October 14th is a pretty special day.

Unfortunately, our big day fell on a Sunday this year, so celebrating long into the night wasn’t really an option for those of us who had work the next day. But we still had fun and were able to enjoy the time with each other and our friends.

I was in for a surprise, however, when it came to the cake. At a typical American birthday party/celebration (at least as far as I know), the scene looks like this:

  1. The people invited show up on time at the pre-determined location.
  2. The birthday person greets everyone, chit-chat and laughter ensue.
  3. Eventually it is time for the cake. The cake is brought out, candles are lit, and the birthday person blows out the candles while making a secret wish.
  4. Cake is sliced in perfect slices and handed out to everyone.
  5. They eat cake, talk and laugh, and maybe eat more cake. The end.

Is that how this particular birthday celebration went? Um, no. This particular birthday celebration with my Indian friends was not like this at all. It was more like this:

  1. A few people showed up at the guys’ apartment on time. Most seemed to be on what we call IST. Most people would think this acronym stands for “Indian Standard Time” but they are wrong. It really stands for “Indian Stretchable Time”. So basically, almost everyone was late. This was fine. I’m used to this by now.
  2. The birthday boy and myself were congratulated by everyone and chit-chat and laughter ensued.
  3. Time for the cake came. This cake looked SO good. It was a three-layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate ganache. It was beautiful. It wasn’t a plain, cheap sheet cake, for sure.
  4. The birthday boy and myself stood together with the cake for a few photos and then we cut into it. We were fed a bite of cake by our friends and we fed our friends a bite, too. (This is another thing I don’t understand, but I just went with it). AND THEN…
  5. There was a handful of cake smushed in my face! Then another. Then some frosting. And apparently this is normal. After the birthday people were attacked, a full fledged cake-smushing-in-the-face fight began. There was cake everywhere. And the guys’ apartment had beige carpet.
  6. After things calmed down, I was allowed to go wash the cake off my face. I wondered why I even put make-up on. Then we ate what was left of the cake, drank a beer, and laughed and danced until Sunday the 13th turned into Monday the 14th.

I had a great time, don’t get me wrong. It was just not how I’m used to celebrating. I’ve never had a chocolate cake facial on my birthday until this year. But really, thanks guys! It was a great time, as always. This was probably the most fun birthday I’ve had since my 16th, and that was a long time ago!

But now I know, I will not be hosting a birthday party with any Indians at my house unless I have hardwood floors.

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Welcome!

To present an idea on the scope of this blog, here are a few thoughts:

Culture – the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.

This is dictionary.com‘s definition of “culture” that I find most appropriate.

It’s very interesting to me that a distinction is made between “behaviors” and “beliefs”. In general I think that most people primarily associate beliefs with culture, forgetting that behaviors are a key factor as well. Culture involves so much more than simply believing something. It encompasses a person’s everything. Everyone grows up in a certain fashion and (hopefully) as they grow more mature, they will be able to (and motivated to) objectively assess what made them who they are.

Culture has recently become a subject of interest to me because I am married to someone from a culture very different from my own. Obviously there are challenges that arise when two individuals commit to a marriage, even when those people are from the same or a similar culture. But when those individuals come from two different parts of the world, the challenges are different. I will not say that it is harder, I will just say that it is different. Some behaviors an American may take for granted, an Indian may think are crazy, and vice versa. And I want to talk about them and any other weird things that come up.

Get ready for some posts about culture, people! You have one, I have one, we all have a culture. Also, don’t judge me for my thoughts. I’m just a girl adjusting to my world. 🙂