Birthdays are a big deal in the Chitnis household. Hints about gifts are dropped over months. Requests for favourite dishes are made. Parties are planned weeks in advance. A meal out in a nice restaurant is mandatory. I grew up with these traditions, because for my dad, his birthday in particular was always about spending time with the family.
In 2008, this changed a bit. This was the year I first began rationing my time on Feb 20th between spending time with my dad, and spending time with Geeth. The two most important men in my life share a birthday, and I realised I had to live with the feeling of my heart being split into two on this day for the rest of my life. Midnight was chaotic — I nearly broke my neck one year running down the stairs, phone in one hand, as I tried to make sure I wished both of them as the clock struck 12.
In 2011, Lagori was formed on Feb 20th after Geeth and Edward decided to try writing a song in Hindi over biryani and beer. And so, another “birthday” was added to the list. The band spent the next two years focused on writing songs, playing gigs and generally building a following – it wasn’t until 2014 that they began celebrating their anniversary on a large scale. My dad passed away in June of 2013.
I tell myself that he will always have the best seat in the house at every show of theirs.
This year, Lagori had gigs to play on Feb 18th (Trivandrum), Feb 19th (Bangalore), Feb 20th (Kochi) and Feb 21st (Raipur, Chhattisgarh — 1,917kms away from Kochi). Because of this schedule, I realised that the only way I could get to spend any time with Geeth on his birthday would be if I travelled with the band to Kochi. They would only be spending about 16 hours in the city.
I debated the “will this be worth it” ness of the situation for a long, long time. But finally..
Birthdays are a big deal.
And so that’s how I spent Feb 20th this year. Watching my fiancé do what he does best, and knowing that my dad would be throughly enjoying the Lagori show, wherever he is.
I’m still bummed out about the fact that I couldn’t get to do any sight-seeing in Kochi, but I did get to see the gorgeous Bolgatty Palace, since that was the venue for the amazing Mojo Rising festival. Hopefully I can go back soon and check out the Fort Kochi region, and the Paradesi Synagogue.