A long time ago when I was in school, primary school, birthdays were a big event. People used to be virtually dated and cajoled and basically buttered up before the upcoming birthday. In school the questions were about, Who will sit next to you?
Who will hold the packet of sweets as you give them out? Who will spend break time holding your hand and walking beside you like a shadow.
At some point of time the teacher would ask the birthday kid to come stand in the front of the class and have the rest of the class sing Happy Birthday loudly. Once the child has finished beaming benevolently at the rest of the class, it was allowed to walk around and hand over sweets to everyone in class who would wish the BDAY boy/girl again. If luck was in you were allowed to walk around the rest of the block and offer sweets to all the teachers.
The cringe worthiness of this whole thing gets better when you recall the fact that the Birthday kid did not need to wear a uniform for that one 'special' day. Thus I remember being horrified with visions in pink froth, cream satin dresses with ballerina shoes, a spider man and also someone who wore a bright yellow shirt with shiny black shorts - looked amazingly like a bumble bee.
Added to these ignominies was the Birthday party, which was to be 'your' day so the birthday boy/girl could do and say pretty much anything she or he wanted to. This leading to evil tendencies being revealed (kids can be pretty mean). The poor soul would need to wear a multi colour feather cap of conical shape. Have others wear glittery concial caps on their heads and have people singing Happy Burd-day too yoouuu very loudly and hoarsely till the cake got cut and stuffed into people's mouths to shut them up.
The food consisted of chola, bhaturas, something saccharine sweet like rasgullas or gulab jamuns, sandwiches, and loads of fizzy drinks. Plus of course the cake.
The gifts are part of any birthday deal and there would be all sorts, from paint boxes to geometry kits, pencil boxes, pen sets etc etc. Anything a 7-10 year old would want.
The one thing that needs recalling here are the expressions:
Birthday kid - goody two shoes, sulky, benevolent, cocky, delighted, greedy and satiated with cake and food, tired and grumpy at the end.
Pals - smiley, envious, wishful and scheming about what they would do on their special days
Parents - ecstatic, worried about being hosts, tired
Teachers - bored yet smiley, happy for a sugar fix but tired of singing the same song and making people feel special yet remind them of limitations of birthday advantages.
Birthdays were fun-ny. I recall attending many birthday parties as a child, and they all fit on the same pattern. It was the sighting of a conical multi coloured feathered cap that set of this reminiscence.