There may or may not be a cake. The presents are necessarily makeshift. It’s hard to have a cheerful birthday amid a global pandemic. Which is why family and friends are stepping up, writing personalised birthday songs, creating themed virtual video-call parties.
Sharan Shetty, 24, a marketing executive from Mumbai, teamed up with five friends to plan the day for their friend, born on May 2. “Since his great passion is cooking and trying out new dishes, we create a compilation of new recipes. The slideshow was full of Joey GIFs from the TV show Friends and cool quotes about food,” Shetty says. “One of us created a playlist of his favourite Spanish and English songs.”
During the birthday video call, the group held a nine-question quiz based on his favourite web series, and after every three questions answered correctly, he received a gift (the playlist, recipe compilation, photos and videos) in his inbox.
In Bengaluru, Mitchelle D’Souza’s 27th birthday was celebrated on April 26 with 60 people gathered on video call, across five time zones. “We invited her cousins, siblings and friends. I wrote a birthday song for her and played it on my keyboards,” says Karishma Jayapaul, a friend. “It might be simple things, but she was so happy. We’d normally order gifts. Here, it took more time and trouble to make her feel special, and the little things we did really sparked joy.”
The single digit-ers
It’s hard to have a video call replace the chaos and frolic of a birthday party for children so parents are improvising.
Pallavi Singh, 38, a homemaker from Indore, celebrated her daughter Kimaya’s fifth by transforming part of her living room into a fairyland, with a few toys, Barbie props and balloons. “We had a small Zoom party with our friends and her cousins. They played games and laughed a great deal,” Pallavi says.
Creativity is replacing material objects in all age groups. Preethi Amin, 28, an insurance analyst in Mumbai, celebrated a friend’s birthday on May 6 with a surprise party. “We shared a cu- stomised e-invite on social media and tagged her. The surprise began right there. We made a video of us answering questions about her, such as ‘What song describes your friendship best’, ‘Your all-time favourite memory with her’. Our friend loves games. So we had a set of lateral-thinking puzzles for her too.”
Sathyesh Poojari, 25, says his group of friends got so creative with the first two birthdays in May that they’ve run out of ideas for the third. “We’re thinking, since she likes eerie stuff, we’ll gather some horror stories and do a video call where each of us will sit in front of a torch or fake bonfire and swap spooky stories. We’re planning it for 1 am and we’re all going to have the lights off.” Sounds spooky and fun.