October 18, 2007

Of Old Times and New

When I was a kid, birthdays were such a simple affair – streamers and balloons adorning the room (ma would spend the entire evening on it), home-made snacks for friends (samosas and wafers were the favs), playing passing-the-parcel and musical chairs (the best part :)) and giving away pencil box or pens as return gifts (everybody would fight for a colour of their choice). The occasion was more about having a good time with friends and family, not bothering about the shape of your cake or the colour of the wrapping paper on the return gifts.

Cut to the new-age birthday parties. First and foremost, you need to think of a theme -Barbie doll parties (where everyone dresses in pink) or jungle theme parties (where kids behave wildly as ever) are passé. Today, ‘A journey into space’ and Harry Potter themes are the favourites. Once you have decided upon a theme, plan the decoration. It doesn’t matter if it implies hiring a professional who’d charge thousands for the paper mache models and the paper cut-outs – the decoration should transform the birthday party venue (preferably a restaurant or a club-house) into a space station or Hogwart’s school of witchcraft. Invitation cards, birthday cake, games and return gifts – everything needs to be in sync with the theme. Some people go to the extent of coordinating the colours too! Such is the madness that the preparations start almost a month in advance – frenzied mothers surf the net for suggestions, the shape of the cake is decided, the cooks are booked - making the event nothing short of a marriage…infact, it’s an annual headache.

And after having attended many such parties and seen the tamasha, I wonder – is it really worth it? Whom are these people trying to please? Do the kids really want such stuff or is it the parents who are the ones conscious about their status? What was wrong with the kind of birthday parties we had? And can such celebrations match the innocence and joy of those humble parties we had not so long ago?

9 comments:

girish said...

you know you're definitely a couple of 'generations' ahead when rosy nostalgia stains the memories :)

however, you do have a point. as a certain philosopher once said, technological advancement allows for more time for cultural change (read advancement here too) and one wonders whether these garish jamborees are the end result...

bhumika said...

@ girish

Considering my viewpoints on many similar subjects, my ma tells me that i should have been born in the 1960's. That justifies the "couple of 'generations'" :P

and i completely agree with the certain philosopher...

Jui Chitre said...

Welcome to era of packaging.. moments too are packaged these days .. agree with what you say in this piece ..

Soulmate said...

I agree with what you are trying to say here. The innocence of the birthday parties which 'our' generation has been lost in these garish and flamboyant parties. These parties are more of show-off of how much you can spend rather than having plain, simple fun...

bhumika said...

@jui
'packaging' n all...now it shows that we are mass com. students :p

@soulmate
'These parties are more of show-off of how much you can spend rather than having plain, simple fun...' - completely agree with you.

thanks for dropping by :)

vinay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vinay said...

PArents egos have overshadowed the innocence of parties we had at our times.
TRue..
gOOd observation:)
Keep the feel battery On!

rituparna said...

I was expecting sth else buddy...
Dont ya think today we spend so much time in deciding 'where' to throw a dinner party?? A lavish or the most expensive restaurant in the city for that matter!!!

bhumika said...

@ vinay

thank you for your comments

@ritu

I’m concerned with the age factor. At the age of 24-25, it’s not unnatural to decide ‘where’ you want to throw your parties; whether you want to spend a quiet evening with your friends or go to a disc to celebrate your birthday. But for a toddler to demand a lavish party definitely makes me ponder what their definition of ‘celebration’ is.