Posted by: Anna | March 25, 2011

Happy (Pretend) Birthday

Tommy and I have decided to split up. No, not like that – just for a couple weeks to do our own thing. He really wants to hike the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, and I don’t. Hiking every day for 8 hours, in the mountains, carrying my stuff, and sleeping in huts…no thanks! I really want to go to an ashram and dedicate time to exploring different types of meditation and yoga. He thinks: getting up at 5:30 AM, meditating, chanting, doing yoga, eating a completely vegetarian diet, and not speaking until 2 PM every day…no thanks! And so, we decided to each pursue what we really want to do by splitting up. We will meet back up in the Delhi airport on the way to Singapore.

Unfortunately, that left me bummed because my birthday will be during the time we are split up. I didn’t really consider that when we made our decision. Splitting up was my idea, and Tommy says he pointed the birthday situation out to me. I don’t remember that, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true; when I set my mind to something, I tend to disregard or choose to overlook information that does not reinforce my decision. Anyway, it hit me a few days ago that I was going to be on my own, and I started getting caught up in feeling sorry for myself. I hinted to Tommy that he should surprise me with something for my birthday, a present, an experience, etc. He hadn’t made plans to do that already, so I pouted. This all says a lot more about me than him, and I’m not especially proud of it. This whole year is pretty much the most awesome thing I’ve ever done. Tommy, sweet man that he is, started brainstorming to come up with something that would delight me. Twenty-four hours later, I realized that in our current situation, traveling, it’s silly. I don’t even know for sure what city I’ll be in on my birthday, so how can he plan an experience. I’ll see him less than a week later. And I don’t want a random gift that I have to carry around!

More sensibly and more fun, I decided that we would just celebrate early while we were still together, designating 24 hours as “birthday”, starting at 5 PM and going until 5 PM the next day (when we had to go to the train station to catch a train). Udaipur, where we are, is billed as the most romantic city in India, so it’s not such a bad place to celebrate. I had read about some really lovely restaurants, but hadn’t really thought of an occasion worthy of a splurge. My birthday would work; we could splurge on a nice dinner (nice in India meant $35 for both of us with drinks).  I really wanted to take a cooking class with Tommy; there was a highly recommended one across the street from our hotel. On the way to dinner, I went it to sign up for the class the following morning, and the woman told me it was full. Tommy saw me come out dejected, and he went back in. He begged and pleaded; he offered to pay double. He explained it was my birthday (pretend, but real to me). She refused his double payment and said, “I teach your wife, she teach you.” Tommy came out, and I was so excited to be able to go, if a little disappointed that I wouldn’t get to share the experience with him.

I selected a nice bar in a gorgeous hotel with a view of the lake, two palaces, and sunset for sundowners. The bar had mosaic work, elaborate archways, beautiful tiled floors, and more elegant details. We had a lovely time sipping our drinks (some of the first non-beer we’ve had in India), watching the sunset, and photographing these beautiful birds. Truly, Udaipur is stunning. The streets are still dirty, and the hawkers are still omnipresent, but the views are amazing.

Sunset in Udaipur

We then went for a short walk to find the “best” restaurant in Udaipur, according to Lonely Planet India. Lonely Planet has let us down over and over with terrible recommendations, but I was hopeful it would come through this time. After walking down a dirty alleyway, we arrived. The restaurant was a giant patio right on the lake with palace views and looking back toward the main part of the city. As the sun finally retreated completely, we watched the lights of the city twinkle in the distance. We ate by candlelight. We had meat – not all that common and tried some dishes we had not seen on offer anywhere else. The food was good. As we were finishing dinner, two musicians started playing a sitar and a tabla drum, which was lovely and romantic.

I felt spoiled, full, and happy. We walked back to our hotel hand in hand, and I am so glad to have such a sweet husband and the opportunity to be on this trip. Holidays, in which category I include my birthday, make me miss being home, miss my family, miss my friends…However, Tommy pointed out that India is certainly the coolest place I’ve ever spent a birthday. And personally, I am proud of myself for having enough self-confidence to set off to do what I want on my own in India. I would not have done that five years ago, and I’m grateful. It’s a great way to enter my last year of the twenties: doing something that is, for me, a little bold. Plus, I can always try for another birthday dinner when we meet up again in Singapore!



  1. Happy Birthday…

  2. Anna –

    What a nice attitude for a weird time — your birthday, Tommy away and in a very strange place. Kind of stranger in a strange land on your birthday. I have been thinking about it and almost said something on skype last night but didn’t want to think about it. We miss you so much on all the holidays, including your upcoming birthday. We will have to have a birthday celebration for the both on us that is extra special next year. And let’s skype on your birthday.

    Love, love, love you!


  3. You will be together in New Zealand on Sally’s birthday.

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