Scott: Let’s go to clean Bhagmati river.
Ellie: There’s still a clean section of Bhagmati river? Where is that?
Scott: No, it’s all dirty. That’s why I’m suggesting that we go and clean it.
That was our conversation when I asked Scott what he wanted to do for his birthday. It’s not your typical answer, but it didn’t take me by surprise. I knew he wasn’t kidding, so we seriously thought about everything we needed (gloves, boots, rakes, trash bags, etc.) and decided that this was not something we could easily implement on that same day (again, we’re not planners). So he said we’ll just make momos (dumplings) at home. And I said I’ll make dessert.
It turned out to be a good idea in the end, because making momos is very tedious and time consuming so it was a nice group activity for the family. And then they got to try a Filipino-style dessert afterwards.
I also got him a card while we were buying ingredients at the supermarket. We were together the entire time so he knew there was a card, but I asked him to step aside while I paid for it so he won’t see what it looked like. He didn’t want me to bother, but I insisted on buying it. Besides, I found the perfect one! It was the only card in the store that didn’t take itself seriously. Dogs in a rock band?! The best card. ever.
In the few months that I’ve been here, we’ve had three birthdays in this house. They’re not a very big deal here, it seems. There’s cake and tika and then we call it a day (except for one that turned into a dance party, that was fun). But putting tika on the forehead can only be done by older people on younger people. Given that Scott is the eldest in the family, it would mean that apart from parents and grandparents, everyone else would miss out on putting tika and speaking their blessings, including myself. That’s why I bought the card so the younger ones can write their wishes for him instead. It took them quite a while to figure out what to write, and they did it in English too. They’re obviously not used to saying serious things to their brother but they did it anyway, and it was a treat for Scott to read what they had to say to him.
I think the day turned out great. A simple celebration at home with loved ones. The Bhagmati River would have to wait another year 😉