Gratitude and New Beginnings

Sometimes the best plans are those that never come to fruition.

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My plans for my birthday weekend changed again and again since touching foot in India. My first idea was to travel – to spend the day exploring in some new, exotic locale. The sobering realization that my birthday was a) on a working Saturday and b) that I would need to present baseline data from our centers meant that traveling was not in the cards for this year.

Earlier in October, resigned to staying in Pune, I contemplated keeping my birthday a secret. I thought that given the turbulence of the past year, a quiet day could be put to use. The age of 25 brought about many changes. Taking a moment to reflect quietly would be a good idea, I figured. Last year I was told (not unkindly) that if I wanted something to happen for my birthday, I’d have to make it happen. This year I wanted some time to myself I decided, time to learn about myself.

As Saturday approached, I realized my self-set deadline for my side project, a case study on mobile money, was looming and I had yet to incorporate any of the new information I needed to conclude the study. Forget relaxing, I started thinking. I’m going to be writing this thing all weekend!

And as life often goes, whenever you decide on one path, another unexpectedly pops up and whisks you away.

Cake #1

Pineapple cake – The start of birthday sugar madness

Celebrating November birthdays and holding a post-Diwali party for the teachers at the Akanksha office on Saturday afternoon

Celebrating November birthdays and holding a post-Diwali party for the teachers at the Akanksha office on Saturday afternoon

Birthday lunch, plate 1

Birthday lunch, plate 1

A proper feast

A proper feast

My favorite sari yet!

My favorite sari yet!

Midnight surprise

Midnight surprise

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My birthday included several surprise cakes, roses, a lovely cafe visit, some very potent drinks, and numerous kind wishes from people scattered across the globe. Given the lack of notice, it’s amazing that anything happened at all. I was fortunate to have a Halloween party turn into a birthday surprise at midnight, and I was even more fortunate that birthdays are such a honored event here in India.

The best part of the day was hearing from people. I am extremely grateful for the technology that now exists. I know that even a few years before I began going abroad communication was incredibly limited. Being able to chat with friends and loved ones from so far away is incredible.

The hectic pace of Friday night and Saturday’s work day provided the prefect contrast to the remainder of the weekend. After rushing here and there, celebrating, eating vast amounts of cake and Indian food, I enjoyed curling up in bed and snuggling in with my current read, Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. (So glad I’m reading it now, after trekking Nepal!) A quiet end to the weekend is the perfect way to usher in a new era of my life.

But still, I figure that some reflection is indeed due. In keeping with the spirit of this weekend, I am veering away from the serious and instead focusing on the positive. There is so much to be grateful for today.

I am grateful for:

  • Friends, both old and new;
  • The beauty of sharing moments with others;
  • Encouraging comments on the case study draft;
  • The opportunity to be in India;
  • Learning new things about the world, myself, and humanity;
  • The realization that the past can be the past but it need not be the future; and
  • Knowledge that today is a new day.

So while it is a bit sad to say goodbye to the first quarter century of my life, I welcome the start of a new age and the continuation of life’s adventures.

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