My birthday stories

Updated on Sep 01, 2011 10:35 AM IST

I have discovered that throwing birthday parties can be very profitable business. A couple of weeks ago, I invited around 20 friends to drinks on my official passport birthday. Khushwant Singh writes.

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None | ByKhushwant Singh

I have discovered that throwing birthday parties can be very profitablebusiness. A couple of weeks ago, I invited around 20 friends to drinks on my official passport birthday.

From the morning, bouquets of flowers started arriving, many from people I did not know. At tea time arrived N P Thareja of Mianwali which is close to my village of birth Hadali. He prospered in Delhi and set up Human Care Charitable Trust. I had not invited him but he got to know about it. He came loaded with gifts - a table clock, a torch and packets of Indian sweets.

He is a great draw at any party as he reads peoples’ palms - all my lady guests want their fortunes to be told. I don’t believe in palmistry, horoscopy, astrology or any form of forecasting the fortune. But this time I was alone.

So Thareja simply took my right hand, measured my life-line and pronounced “102”. I replied : “I don’t think so.”
Before my guests arrived, came a birthday cake and lots of canapés gifted by Mrs Charanjit Singh, owner of the Le Meridien. Then my other guests streamed in. I had put out two bottles of vintage Scotch, soda and mineral water bottles for them. A little over one bottle was consumed. In return I got three bottles of Scotch, an expensive Bhutanese silken shawl, three coffee tables each worth over 2000 rupees, many boxes of chocolates. I had good reasons to celebrate.

I have another birthday closer to what might have been the real one of which only my grandmother had a rough idea. It is in mid-August. I have to take care that I do not invite any I did on 2nd February.

With Love from Bangladesh
The following news item appeared in New Age of Dhaka last December: “The deceased man has been identified as Yunus Bapari, “ a police spokesman told reporters in Faridpur, “a forty-six-year-old rickshaw driver from Malaidaha. It seems that at about 11 AM on Monday, Yunus went to a village fair at Brahmankanda, accompanied by his two wives.

At the fair, he was accosted by a woman who claimed to be his wife, an event which triggered a heated family discussion, because his first two wives did not know that he had a third wife, and his third wife did not know about the first two.

“There was a massive argument, during which the third wife revealed that he also had a fourth wife in the village of Kabirpur. This was another wife of whom the first two wives knew nothing, so the three women took him to the village and located the residence of the fourth wife. Another heated argument ensued, which ended with all four wives joining forces and mercilessly beating Yunus up. He was admitted to Faridpur Medical college hospital in a critical condition at 5.40am, and died shortly afterwards.

Under Shariah law, Yunus was entitled to have four wives, but only with the consent of his existing wives, which in this case it appears he did not have. An unnatural death case has been filed with Kotwali police station.” Where did I get it from ? From Private Eye of London.

Whistle blower
There used to be in Lakhanpur Kheri, UP, a Manjunath
Who richly deserved the oil mafia’s wrath
For preventing them from committing robbery
Continually and openly;
And what else could that mafia do
If Manmad Additional district collector too Into a fit of rage flies
And obstructs their honest enterprise,
Except set him aflame
Because that’s the rule of the game,
And why should one per cent of the bureaucracy
Be a black sheep to its fraternity
And question the integrity
Of the mining mafia, blackmarketeer and the adulterator;
How can anybody be a whistle blower
And escape murder !

(Courtesy Kuldip Salil, Delhi)

Generation Gap
My neighbour’s 12-year-old skinny, lanky son needed a new shirt. He and his wife took him to a shopping mall and the search began. In the boys’ department the largest size was too small. They moved to the Men’s department where the smallest size was too big. With the largest boys’ size in one hand and the smallest men’s size I the other, his wife gave him a long look. “Son,” she said at last, “do you realise you are now in the generation gap ?”
(contributed by Reeten Ganguly, Tezpur)

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