North America

The Day I Got Life Itself

That was yesterday. I was born 37 years ago to a woman who had accompanied her husband to the Middle-Eastern kingdom of Oman. In another culture which was alien to her, where the people sat for meals around gigantic metal trays and pulled chicken off bones — all in that one plate — to show that they care. Omanis inculcate intimacy through their meals. My mother told me that she found it a bit odd and often shrank from the prospect of eating from one plate with people she hardly knew. But I find the idea a bit nice. That the Omanis can and want to eat off one plate. Maybe it is the fact that something tugs at my heart when I think of my birthplace.

It was also a place where the men kiss and hug newborns without inhibitions — which put my mother off and she attributes the fact that I contracted some infection within a few days of being born to that propensity of my visitors. She had given up on me. ‘I asked my youngest brother (who used to work in Oman too) to take care of you while I slept for days with tiredness and depression.’ I carry the marks of it on my inner ankles. A star-shaped mark on each. Reminders of beating mortality early on when the doctors had to make two slits in them to insert saline drips. I think of them as birth marks because I do not think I have any other.

As I turned 37, I did not mind that this was a birthday where I went with my usual routine but the difference was the shower of love I was the recipient of. From friends and family through calls and messages all day long. Our niece who had celebrated her 9th birthday a day before cut a strawberry cake for the both of us in Seattle and sent me a cutesy video along with her brother.

Cheila’s Saramago postcard arrived just in time, a night before, like a wonderful precursor. Adi had already gifted me a cache of dresses. Then came two huge boxes of boots he had asked me to choose – a tan slouched pair with stilettos, which make my senses sigh with pure pleasure, and a dark taupe over-the-knee pair that also do the job pretty well.

I am not that fussed about gifts but these added a sparkle to the day as did the skeins of wool and crochet needles I gave myself along with a pile of old and new books. You should always gift yourself something or the other from time to time — and on your birthday, why not, right? From me to me. I have so many books that say that, it is a tad embarrassing. Someday when I leave this life and those books are possibly in some charity shop and picked up by a stranger, he/she would possibly think, ‘what a nut job!’. And oh yes, I want to start learning to crochet. My mother would bawl here with laughter. How she tried to teach me knitting when I was a teen — but really, I had more important things to do than knit then. This is when I know I am 37.

Adi was working from home. From time to time he got up and hugged me with ‘Budday Gurl’ chirpings. He was feeling guilty but he has been burdened with work for some time now. Americans like to work hard. It is an admirable trait in this country even though it can cause you to burn out early.

In the evening, I went for a long, long run because it was crisp and cold, the park cleaners were out blowing leaves in big piles of gold and russet, and the squirrels had turned even more tubby than you would think it possible. I promise you this that they can hardly scamper with their earlier agility of summer. I have detected one of them whose tail has got left somewhere so that it is a sad little stub. I wonder what’s the story behind it. It is not everyday that you see tail-less squirrels after all.

During the course of the run, I stopped for a breath and a chat with a gruff old fisherman by the Hudson. He had just caught a sizeable striped bass from the Hudson. One of those beret wearing men, chewing on tobacco, and possibly thinking to himself, ‘Oh no, Chatty Cathy!’ But I am nothing if not persistent in the face of gruffness so he did give in and gifted me with a sentence. In the evening while Adi and I squabbled over Monopoly after a lovingly-rustled up dinner of cauliflower & leek soup and baked chicken steaks, the boy next door turned up with a birthday card and hugs. I was thrilled to bits. I had made coffee-flavoured dark chocolate with pumpkin seeds & pecans for his partner and him because the birthday cake I had made earlier on with blackberries and blueberries was scrumptious, but when I slipped it into the refrigerator to chill, the tall tower of mini cakes had toppled right over. Talk about whimpers.

Oh, and I met a 3-month-old Boxer pup in my building called Luka, twice over on my birthday, and he refused to leave me each time till his master had to pick him up and leave. That was also a delightful gift.

That’s the long and short of it, my birthday, as it was this year.

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  • Dina

    A belated very Happy Birthday, lovely Dippy Dotty Girl❣️?✨?? What a beautiful postbirthdaypost this is!??❣️ It’s great to get to know you a bit better. 🙂 Oman sounds very exotic to us Northerns and we love to travel in the comfort of our armchairs at home, like now. Have a wonderful weekend, you and Adi. ?

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Hah I bet Dina. I would also like to travel from the comfort of my armchair to the jungles of the Amazon. The thought of anacondas makes my heart shrivel. So I get your thoughts about Oman. It is too hot there for comfort yet it is stunning and a piece of paradise for me. Thank you for all these kind words and the wishes. They mean the world. I hope you Fab Four have a wonderful weekend too in the North. xx

  • equinoxio21

    Many, many happy returns of the day, Arundhatiji. (Feliz cumpleaños, joyeux anniversaire and all that (Janmadin kee shubakaahamanen?)
    You are almost the same age as Daughter #1 who’s from Nov 17, 1981.
    Did you send your mother a birthday card? (A friend of mine used to send his mother a card on his birthday, saying that she deserved it more)
    Saramago, London, Christie and King? You and I could share a book club.
    You two have a lovely week-end.

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      I am yet to read Saramago. Cheila assures me he is a gem. I am looking forward to the meeting with him on his pages. We do already share the book club in our hearts and minds 🙂
      Thank you for the lovely wishes, Brianji. That is a birthday in three vastly different languages and the last is too cute. Dhanyavad.
      I like this idea of your friend’s. My mother does deserve it way more than I do. The grief I gave her growing up when I used to say, ‘You should not have given birth to me if you did not want to, you know.’ Sigh. I did wish her and listen to her reminiscing. It feels surreal when she does.
      I hope you have a wonderful weekend too! We plan to take the celebration into the woods somewhere 🙂

      • equinoxio21

        Sounds like a good plan. Dhanyavad would be the equivalent of Urdu’s “Shukriya”? Saramago is a must. I don’t know how the English translation is handled. Read him in Spanish. He may be difficult at the first for punctuation (or lack of) reasons. But he has written a few magnificent books. Very mind-provoking.

        • Dippy-Dotty Girl

          Dhanyavad (Dhonyobad in Bengali) is the equivalent of Shukriya. I read about Saramago out of curiosity and it is piqued. I have to sate it. I do not mind the lack of punctuations – Kerouac is a favourite of mine. I get stream-of-consciousness rambles 🙂

          • equinoxio21

            My top Saramago recommendations: Essay on blindness and Essay on lucidity. To be read in that order… Thinking about Dhonyobad – very look-alike to Hindi – I was reminded of the many languages Indians come to speak… “naturally”, when most Brits or French barely speak one… 😉 Stream-of-consciousness? I haven’t read Joyce’s Ulysses. A bit put off at the length. And I confess to having failed miserably – thrice – to read Proust… 😉

          • Dippy-Dotty Girl

            I had to read Joyce as a student of literature and boy I wanted to throttle him at that point but peace reigned at the end. I have read a bit of Proust but I am not a fan. Thank you for the recommendations, I shall look these up the moment my current reads get over. Cheers.
            P.S.: I Love French and if I could master it I would be a queen in my own eyes.

          • equinoxio21

            Glad I escaped Joyce… 🙂
            You’re already a queen in Hubby’s and many other’s eyes, no doubt. 🙂
            Le Français? Ce n’est pas si difficile. (the) French? This is not so difficult. Bear in mind that English does exist: It has a rudimentary German grammar and 70% of its vocabulary comes form French. The latter helps: difficult = difficile. 😉 And look closely at the words. Many look alike.

          • Dippy-Dotty Girl

            Aww thanks 🙂 Haha my husband knows how to bring me down to earth often 😛 But I am still determined to learn French, so I shall continue with my endeavours. I fall lazy from time to time!
            Ce n’est pas si difficile shall be my motto!

          • equinoxio21

            Il faut continuer l’effort. (“Continuer est facile”; endeavour – with the proper U Americans have dropped – is best translated as “effort”, same word)
            Here’s a trickier one: “A +”

          • equinoxio21

            Pas de quoi. Pour l’encouragement. (Same word again, different pronunciation o’course)
            A + is tricky. A recent form of goodbye: A plus tard = to more late (see you later), shortened to A plus… (trad) = A +.
            (Thank you for that one. Adopted it) 🙂

  • InspiresN

    Happy birthday dear Dippy! It’s interesting to know Oman is your birth place.Hope you had a wonderful celebration 🙂 hope you have an extended celebration in the weekend

  • lifeofangela

    Happy birthday again!! Sounds like the perfect relaxing day, which in my opinion is the best kind of birthdays 🙂 I would also love to learn how to crochet, but I feel like I wouldn’t have the patience for it.

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Hey Angela, thank you my love for the wishes yesterday and today. Adds a sparkle always. It was a lovely day even though we did not do anything spectacular – quiet and simple and just up my alley. Wish me luck cuz I ain’t a crocheting kinda girl but hey one can aspire 😉 xx

  • iwannabealady

    Sounds to me like a very lovely day. The berries and chocolate alone would be enough. Oman sounds like such a wonderful place. I love the affection that people aren’t afraid to show. As for the knitting, what do teenagers know? I got in the very basics of sewing before my mom could no longer wrangle me for lessons. I’ve been wanting to learn knitting. Repetitive movements are so soothing.

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Hey Lyz, thank you, I did. Peaceful and just right. The berries made the cake heavenly and hit the right notes with the lemony base.
      Oman is a beautiful place you know. Just too hot but then that cannot be helped. People have big hearts there. And the sultan himself is a stellar figure.
      Do I spy a fellow knitting aspirant here? Then join this club 😉 I am waiting for the day I can knit like a pro. xx

  • thewonderer86

    Happy belated birthday! What a feast it all looks – those books and the crochet hooks are so pretty – it almost makes me want to have a go myself! Looking forward to hearing more about this….

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Thank you Tracey 🙂 The crochet hooks are giving me aspirations. I am willing to give it my all (which my teenage self could not bring herself around to). Maybe there is a time for everything as they say. xx

  • whatismaria

    Ahh wishing you the happiest belated birthday! I am so glad you had such a wonderful celebration and received so much love and incredible gifts – something that you deserve 100% 🙂 Days like this definitely remind us why its important to cherish the people around us and each moment spent with them. Hope the year ahead holds many incredible moments for you! <3

  • lexandneek

    Impossible! You don’t look a day over 27! Happy Yesterday Birthday! Those are some serious crochet needles. My grandmother taught me how but I can only crochet a pot holder or a muffler – anything rectangular. The boots sound awesome! Adi deserves a Good Husband Award! Could he come over and teach Lex to do the same for my birthday? – Neek BTW, that cake is insanely delicious looking!

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Thank you Neek 🙂 🙂 That is a compliment I shall take wholeheartedly and tuck into the corner of my heart. The cake and the age bit.
      If you can crochet anything, you are my star. Now if you were here, I would have popped over for coffee and crochet lessons. Sadly online lessons shall have to suffice.
      The boots are beauties. If you guys were here, we could have let Adi exchange tips with Lex, but knowing my husband I can tell you confidently, the men would be drinking rather than talking about how to pamper us! 😉 xx

  • Mad Hatters NYC

    Happy belated, Dippy. And quite the day it appears you had. Hearing a bit about your background is quite fascinating. Thanks for sharing that tidbit. Now, toppled or not, I will graciously accept a slice of that cake–it looks delicious. Also, since your being so generous, it’s freezing here now, so I will graciously accept your first crocheted sweater, even if one arm is longer than the other. Oh, don’t be so hard on yourself; I can roll with the best of them. 😉

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Now Lynn, you are asking for uneven-sleeved troubles. If you do not take care, you might have to receive it and wear it for the world to see. Just sayin’. But you might have to wait awhile my friend. I have yet to learn the first thing about it.
      Thank you for the wishes and the sweet words 🙂 I went running today and my hackles rose visibly. xx

  • AJ

    Sounds like and awesome birthday! Happy birthday!??
    Where did you get the idea for your tower of cakes? I need to make a birthday cake for my friend for next Sunday and she would love that!

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Aw that was too big of you. You have to bear the rambles of a dotty person, that’s all. As for the gift, I would grumble to my mother (as a grumpy teen), she needn’t have bothered. How terrible I was.
      Thank you…your wishes add perfection to it ❤

  • carolinehelbig

    Happy belated birthday! Sounds like a wonderful day. It was so nice how you started the post with the story of your mother coming to Oman. I can imagine your mother’s shock and anxiety entering a completely different culture. My mother told me that she was depressed for a year after coming to Canada from Germany (and that’s much less of a change)

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Thank you Caroline 🙂 It was a simple but lovely day. You made me happy with the recognition of the transition woes of my mother. I think she was too into her family so it was tough to leave behind her many brothers and sisters and mother who died while she was in Oman. I still remember her lying on the bed sobbing her heart out when she got the call about my grandma’s death. It made me sad even as I was too young to understand much.
      From Germany to Canada would have been such a shock for your mother too. After all the way of life changes with each country even though it might be part of a similar culture. It is about leaving behind the familiar that is harsh. xx

  • Cherylene

    Happy Belated Birthday! Sorry I missed it. From what I read you had a wonderful day. I trust that you rolled it into today as well. 🙂 May you live to see many more.

  • Amielle

    Belated happy birthday, lovely! I didn’t know it was like that on your birth place. If I were your mom, I’d be uncomfortable with that too. ? And lovely gift right there! ?

  • Virginia Duran

    Happy birthday my dear! I thought I had to comment on this one despite the tiredness and unsociable character of which I am prisoner. I wish I’d seen this earlier and at least be on time but anyways, I enjoyed reading another bit of your exciting life and your current adventure – from my screen you sometimes look like the main character of a novel you are writing. Hope you continued eating sweet treats, they are the best. Cheers to those 37 ??

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      It is the most wonderful thing to hear. That my life could be a novel and I the protagonist, how exciting, Virginia. And how lovely of you to wish me despite a break from blogging …you are taking a break, are you not? I hope it is brief but yes you need to concentrate on your projects and give them their due attention. I am eating and running to atone alongside 😀 Thank you my love! 🙂 xx

      • Virginia Duran

        When I read your posts is like reading a novel, where you know there will be an amount of action within it. Your characters – including Adi – are always complex and interesting. I enjoy reading your novel-like posts 🙂 And yes, I am taking a break. I think until February I won’t be able to return to this social life online that I so much like. I need to finish London’s guide and it takes up all the space of my brain hehehe. Keep the running and stay warm 😉 ❤️

        • Dippy-Dotty Girl

          You have such a beautiful heart, Virginia. And you are kind. I love you for saying all of the above words … I think I am floating. Gotta descend soon.
          I miss your posts and the conversations but I am happy you are busy with something that is after your own heart. I wish you the very best with the guide. May it take over London with a fury.
          Keeping the running spirit in place, what with all this winter baking and goodies. xx

  • Natalie Vinh

    Happy happy belated birthday lovie! Your incredible writing, photography, and sense of self inspires me on the daily. To another wonderful year!

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      That is a beautiful wish along with a bucket of generosity, my sweet. Thank you! I am sending you warm hugs and wishes for all things wonderful for the rest of the year and the new one coming up so soon enough. xx

  • TheresaBarker

    Lovely post, so heartwarming and fun. I particularly enjoyed your “origin” story! One day perhaps we will learn how you and Adi met. 🙂 Happy belated birthday, Dippy-Dotty Girl!

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