I woke up in the morning to a flood of wishes. Actually I fell asleep to a steady stream of birthday wishes from across the globe. One of the advantages of being a traveler is that you live in different time zones at the same time. So while it was still 9th night here in Stamford, it was already 10th in India and loads goodwill and cheer was being sent my way. But that was not all, when I opened my eyes and looked out, there was snow swirling around outside my window. So much love! I felt blessed.
While the snowstorm had turned the world outside into a picturesque winter wonderland, it also meant that the ice-skating lesson that was to be my birthday gift had to be postponed as the instructor was unable to make it. Instead the day was spent basking in the warmth of all the greetings and compliments. Besties called from different parts of the globe to let me they missed me. In the evening, the Husband took me out to a Spanish restaurant for a lovely dinner. The previous evening he had taken me to a sweet little Italian place recommended by a friend.
What struck me most about both these places, and probably about the dining scene at Stamford is the joie de vivre. Both eateries and others, were dimly lit, warm, crowded and noisy – on weekdays. Much like the dhabbas back home. Except that the dhabbas are generally inexpensive.
We decided to skip desserts in favour cake back home. The Husband had procured a delectable looking fruit-topped cheesecake. We were not disappointed. The day ended on an ambrosial note (rather slice!), but the celebrations were not over. I had signed up to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity(HFH) the next day. Truly speaking, this was not part of the birthday plan. This was something I’ve been keen on doing for a long time now. We left home at around five a.m and I reached site by around quarter to ten. After a short briefing, the HFH team set me to work. We started carrying gypsum boards from the truck into the basement, where we would be working. Once that was done, they should me how to use a screw-gun. Having never used power tools in my life, I was a little apprehensive. But some support, some practice and voila! I was set. The day’s task was sheet rock the ceiling of the basement. We measured and cut boards to size and started screwing the on to the wooden cross-beams. In the meanwhile, we were joined by two more volunteers. Having more people around meant the work could be carried out in a more factory-like system. One team would measure, size the boards and tack them to the ceiling with a couple of screws. The following team, on which I was, would the put in the remaining screws. It was hardwork. The full extent of this, I realized only the next day. Standing on a little step ladder set on sandy ground, and putting screws in a board above your head is harder than it sounds.
Lunch was some sort of local masale-bhaat with black beans, a dollop of steamed veggies and few pieces of steamed yucca, bought at a local deli. Flavourful, filling and inexpensive. Post lunch, we were joined by more crew from HFH. We worked till around three in the afternoon and then packed up for the day. The crew helpfully dropped me off at the nearest subway station. I definitely going back, but the long and arduous travel ( 3 trains and a bus) might prove to be a deterrent in finishing what I’ve started.
On Friday, I finally drove down to the local ice rink for my lesson. It was a wonderful experience. I’m not sure if I can skate any better now, but I’m definitely more confident than I was on the ice at Bryant’s Park last Christmas. When the hooter sounded, I could hardly believe that the hour was up. The Husband surprised me with flowers in the evening, something he had planned but had been unable to do on my birthday. Later, we went for dinner with friends to a Hibachi Grill.
We had planned to do a wine trail over the weekend, but once again our plans were thwarted by snow. So, we finally got around furnishing our walk-in and coat closets with storage racks, bring all the extended celebrations to
an end a temporary pause.
What a wonderful birthday it has been!