Akshara’s birthday fell on a Friday this year. So, we had a small cake cutting event on her actual birthday. Santosh was the special guest!
The following day, we had her official birthday party. This time, we had a kids party with the theme of Princesses and Pirates. We started off with the Princess theme but later realised that the guys might not relish this idea. So, we hooked on the pirates part.
Akshara wanted a princess cake with as many princesses on it as possible!
The kids played darts and also a variant of musical chair. The older kids helped in ensuring that the little ones were not wandering off
The princess and the pirate concept helped as it was fun to see the guys chasing the girls and the girls too getting on to the act as if they were real princesses in trouble!
Last year, it was the season of the swine flu in Pune and we had Akshara’s first birthday party in Chennai instead of Pune. This year, the media had more interesting things than swine flu to concentrate on and thus we could have a party in Pune.
On her birthday, we were in Chennai and we did a small family get-together and cut a cake. Vidhya wanted a cake with a 3d model of the characters in “In the night garden”, but finding cake shops (within few days) capable of making one based on a photo was tough. Cakes n’Bakes in Nungambakkam were ready to do it, but they wanted a colour printout A3 size! There was a shop close to our house (Cake point) and the guy said that they can put any photo on a cake and it would be an edile layout. Usually, there is a thin strip of plastic paper kept on the cake which is removed before the cake is cut. We didn’t want this, we wanted the photo to be edible and blend in with the cake. We chose the teletubbies photo and the guy did a good job.
We had filled the room with balloons overnight so that Akshara would see them as soon as she woke up on her birthday. She liked the balloons a lot and the entire day was spent in the company of one balloon or the other!
Our families (vidhya’s and our’s) also went to a dinner “party” on the occassion to GRT Grand (the same place where we had Akshara’s first birthday). Akshara and Laya had lot of fun at the dinner, which meant that more time was spent on controlling them rather than on enjoying the food. Before someone asks, yes, Askshara had a cast on for around 10 days last month, because she had hurt her elbow while playing.
Vidhya had been training Akshara for few days before her birthday on how to blow the candle. She was able to replicate the action perfectly albeit the flow of air! Sriram had also invited members of his apartment gang. Akshara was only too glad at the photo requests.
I dont know whether Akshara has been seeing too much of Jayalalitha or Mayawati on TV, but she suddenly decided to act “holy” after the crown went on her and went on a blessing spree!
Back in Pune, we had the birthday party in one of the community halls in Magarpatta. Vidhya wanted to “theme” the party on something which Akshara would recognise. Farm animals, it was then. So, we had ordered a farm theme cake at Copper Chocs and also had animal shaped cookies done at the same place. The cookies had come out better than our expectation. The decorations at the hall also included cutouts of farm animals and a small barn (with hay) at one corner. There was also a tattoo guy who gave all the kids tattoos of their choice.
We wanted to personalize the return gifts. So, Vidhya made the bags with chart paper and ribbons and got Akshara to imprint her hand on all the bags. It was a bit messy, but fun I had also made some thank you cards with Akshara’s photo and these were stuck on each of the bags. The teddy bears were cut out from a wrapping paper we had.
Akshara’s candle blowing skills didn’t improve much, but she was atleast consistent enough for the photos to give an impressions that she is blowing out the candles. Akshara enjoyed the attention she got from her friends and had fun during the party.
It was time for Akshara’s ayush-homam function, the one that is done on the first star-birthday and sometimes accompanied by the ear-piercing ceremony (pictures of this in a separate post). The “english-birthday” party in Chennai didnt require invitations to be sent as it was only for close family members. But, this one was an important function and required the presence of a much bigger group of relatives. The usual traditional invite was sent to the relatives by snail mail.
With so many people having an online presence nowadays, including cctogenarians, it was imperative to send out an email invite. I didn’t want to just scan the traditional invite and send it across. How many of us can understand the hardcore tamil stuff written on such invites? So, we wanted to prepare a collage to be sent along with email invite
We had bought the below photo-frame-clock in Lepus store in Cyprus (a great store for all kinds of trinkets!) with the idea that one day we would put in photos of Akshara taken on different months. Currently, the clock hangs in our hall, but with no photos. This concept seemed to fit a first birthday party.
I then got the image of a circular clock face to be super-imposed on top of the existing clock, so that i would be easily able to play around with the colours.
Then came the toughest part – choosing photos to put for every month of the first year. The first one was easy. That was the first photo of Akshara taken in the hospital in Cyprus. For every photo after this one, there was lot of debate between Vidhya and me. I would short-list the photos based on the time they were taken (1st month, 2nd month etc) and then we would choose the one to put on the invite. Also, i moved the minute hand of the clock a little to the right, as the function was actually 2 weeks after her actual birthday!
So, here it is, the collage showing the first 12 months of Akshara.
It was Akshara’s first birthday and we wanted it to be a special occasion. But, the flying pigs (swine flu) in Pune meant that organising a party and inviting friends was out of the question. We didn’t want to have a quiet in-the-house cake cutting ceremony for the first birthday. So, off we flew to Chennai for the weekend to have a party there.
It was a small party intended for close relatives. We booked a hall at GRT Convention centre, next to the GRT Grand Days hotel on G.N.Chetty Road. the folks back in Chennai visited dozens of hotels/Halls for this purpose and finally decided on GRT convention centre because the hall was impressive and the price was quire reasonable at 500 rupees a head including dinner. Choosing the menu turned out to be an ordeal in itself as the hotel had given a huge list of items in various categories and we had to choose some from each category.
A birthday party has to have a birthday cake. Vidhya, after spending hours online, narrowed down on four designs which were promptly sent across to the chennai folks with the various priorities and intricacies explained. Yet another tour of Chennai happened, this time of the many bakeries. Few said that only the head chef/baker could do this and would require time (we gave only 2 days notice!) whereas few said that such a design could be managed only on a fruit cake (yuk!). Finally, Cakes ‘n Bakes agreed to whatever conditions we imposed (including the tight deadline) and produced a masterpiece, one that was indistinguishable from the sample printout we had given. Hats off to Cakes ‘n Bakes.
The cake was huge, weighing in at almost 5 kilos. This was because everything other than the doll was actually made of “cake” or icing. A closer look at the cake below shows that even the dress of the doll was made of icing. Cool!
Vidhya had a nice idea. She had actually seen Surya wear a tshirt with a photo of his kid. So, she wanted me to wear something similar during the party. So, after some photoshop work, i took an image to Big Bazaar and they got it neatly printed on a white tshirt. I originally thought that they would just do a rubber print (which is messy), but they printed directly on a custom-made tshirt and the print blended very well on the tshirt.
Akshara, at the beginning, was a little terrified of the cake, which she probably perceived as an adversary. But, once she realised that it was an inanimate adversary, she was up to her usual stuff and started pulling the hair of the doll on the cake
The thathas and Paatis wanted to pose with the star of the evening. So, it was like a marriage reception where Akshara was passed on to the next group waiting to have their photo taken with her
Akshara became so fond of the balloons that it began to be used as a prop to make Akshara smile when being photographed!
In the midst of all the photography sessions, someone reminded us that the cake has to be cut for this to be a birthday party. So, with the cacophony of “Happy Birthday to you” in the background, Akshara calmly cut her first birthday cake!