Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Babar is One

We went over to Bethany Lake Park, about ten minutes from here, to attend the first birthday party for our neighbor Babar. Bethany Lake Park has four small lakes, sidewalks which circumnavigate them, and some buildings for indoor functions. Swans swim, geese fly, grackles gripe, and children fish. The party room was a neat little building right on the lake, which had a patio which overlooked the lake. We went at the outset to help cart in things from the car, hang balloons, and tape up the ribbon that said "Happy Birthday!" in multi-colored metallic fringe. Babar was decked out in a long white shirt and pants. He wore a black vest with gold patterned weave and a little circular cap with the same weave. He had no idea it was his birthday, but he had every idea that he was the center of attention. One three year old boy kept handing me ballons to inflate and tape up. He seemed to like the notion that I was his personal balloon attendant. Later, he came, handed me one, and said "water". I went and put water on it for him, whereupon he said "smaller". I professed uncertainty as to what he wanted, and he went off unsatisfied. Later, my wife and I saw that he wanted us to inflate the balloon with water, so that he could throw it at the older boys. We declined to assist with this no doubt worthy venture, and I do not believe he got his wish, although he came in quite wet later, suggesting that the older boys had gotten theirs.

Dozens of guests came, grown up and children. They all had a friendly word for everyone, and they all doted on Babar. Some wore traditional Pakistani or Indian attire; some western. Some women had chadors on, while some women wore no veil, and looked like pretty much anyone at the Galleria mall. Everyone was very friendly. The man across from me works at a telecom company. He said that he is grateful to have a job, and then recited layoff statistics that essentially came to half of his company's entire work force being laid off in the last year. Another man is a physician who works near the park; Babar's dad told me he was a great addition "to our community". One teenager had a nice small jewel in the "third eye" space between her eyes; I have forgotten what the term for that might be. We stood and sang the "Happy Birthday Song" to Babar, who seemed to enjoy his bite of cake. Then we all lined up for the buffet, on which was served basmati rice, a meat curry, pasta, an eggplant and vegetables dish, naan, and sausages. Everyone kept asking my wife and I if we "like spicy?". We assured them that we do. I chatted with my neighbors, all of whom seemed nice; soon, though, I realized that I was in a sea of people, but I was just daydreaming. I don't know why daydreaming is more satisfying in a sea of people than it is at home, but I savored the experience. I had kheer (rice pudding) and birthday cake, and then, when I saw others were leaving, told Babar's dad I had to go home because I am travelling this week, told him thank you, told Babar and his mom thank you, and headed for home. I am at my best at birthdays when the kheer flows freely.

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