28th September was promising to be an incredibly busy day. Everything we had planned for Dinesh’s 40th birthday was going to come together all at once. I didn’t see much point in pretending that there was no surprise, so I just told dinesh point blank that he was to leave Vyas Kuteer and come back only a little before midnight. So he knew there was a surprise, but he had no idea at all about what it was!
We all decided that we would gift him a fantastic home theatre system. Complete with a huge screen and a 1080p 3D projector. I must have badgered everyone I knew who was into any sort of electronics. I spent hours on the net researching which projector was the best to get. Finally, I zeroed in on a brilliant Sony. Went to watch a live demo and was completely sold on it. Then came the tricky part. To get everything ready so that Dinesh has no clue about it.
I had always wanted wooden flooring in our hall and thought this was the perfect chance to do some interiors. That would act as a decoy for Dinesh. So while there was all the work happening in plain sight, there was also some secret wiring happening also in plain sight. Shavina gifted us two beautiful recliner chairs. I had Dinesh believe that those were his birthday present and unfortunately they came in too early…
On the 28th after shooing Dinesh out of the house, we went to work to clean everything up. Wooden flooring can leave a lot of debris everywhere. After about 5 hours of sweeping, mopping, cleaning, sweating and throwing junk out of the house, the projector people came to set it up.
Instead of an 11 foot screen, they got a 12 foot one and so the carpentry had to be hastily redone. Holes were drilled and things were slid into place. The screen looked amazing and the projector delivered better picture quality than most theatres in India. With the recliners, it’s the perfect set up. Only while getting this setup done, my immaculately cleaned hall looked like a war zone all over again.
We had another round of cleaning, dusting, mopping to get everything in perfect order and it was only at 11 pm that the house was totally clean and ready to be decorated. Rajiv, Rima, Ankita, Gowri and me were the cleaner uppers and Tanu, Upasana, Hema and some others were the decoraters.
All our friends started to troop in around this time and in true Art of Living style immediately became hosts instead of guests. Everyone rushed around getting everything in place…
At 5 minutes to midnight, Dinesh showed up at Vyas Kuteer. We blindfolded him, and took him into the hall and sat him down on the recliner. Then everyone shouted and he had to guess the names of all the people who were there. Some people had arrived earlier and spent the day hiding from him in the ashram. He managed to get a few names right. Then we started Mamma Mia the movie. He heard the familiar music and there was a smile on his face. I think he was expecting to see some video we may have made for him. As we removed his blind fold and he saw the humungous screen and the movie come alive right there in our hall and all the people who loved us so dearly there with us, he did a double take and made a sound that can be described only as an utterly pleasant shocked laugh – You had to be there to see his face! Everyone shouted above the din of the movie Happy Birthday Dinesh Dada!!!
We watched for a bit, then we went up to the terrace which was romantically lit up with candles. It looked like a dream out of some fairy tale. A lovely breeze wafted around us as Dinesh saw his birthday cake or rather cakes. Café Vishala team had outdone themselves by making 40 cupcakes ranging from white chocolate to dark chocolate – 40 shades of Chocolate!! This was combined with some delicious dips and home made bread. And chocolate ice cream made with jaggery instead of sugar!
The one person who was missing from the celebration was Rupal. She had sent a voice recording to be played to Dinesh while cutting the cake. And as the voice note was getting over, she suddenly stepped out from the shadows. She had been there all along!! What a total surprise!!!
We talked and joked and sang and laughed and told stories and then did it all over again.
We slept that night only because of sheer exhaustion.
The next day Gurudev met everyone and that was the icing on the cake!! It was so wonderful to be with all our friends again and feel the love and joy and blessings from them.
Dinesh and I must surely have done some utterly wonderful things in many lifetimes to be blessed with such fierce love from so many, many fantastic people!!
Happy 40th to the most fabulous, amazing, wonderfilled person I have the privilege of knowing!!