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Birthdays are a special time for me

Last update - Thursday, March 15, 2012, 02:12 By Logan Raju

I was born in the Year of the Rabbit and my birthday falls under the sign of Pisces, so does it mean I breed like a rodent and drink like a fish?

But seriously, we all get older and there’s no choice in this matter. Yet we can all feel younger depending on our attitude in our lives. Do we really get wiser with age? I often wonder. Meanwhile, our birthdays come and go, but are always memorable, whether they’re happy or sad days. It’s up to us whether we’d like to remember them or not.
Growing up as a child back in Malaysia, all the children in our family celebrated our birthdays with a party at home with relatives and friends. As I grew older, I celebrated more with friends away from home – perhaps a sign of maturity.
Here in Ireland, I spent my first birthday studying hard for my exams. I had a take-away and that was about it. Of course the birthday cards arrived on time, 7,000 miles  from home. Better still was hearing my family’s voices on the phone. Even now I’m sure it’s everyone’s thrill when near and dear ones wish us a happy birthday.
My second birthday in Ireland was rather different. I went out to a cabaret show with friends – Malaysians, Irish, and Erika from Czechoslovakia too. It was rather different, but an experience! I still have my present from Erika, who was one of those involved in the archaeological site at Wood Quay. It was a very political issue at the time, but I learned that there were many non-Irish who were very passionate about Irish history and heritage, even though they were ‘blow-ins’.
We celebrate many different events in our lives, but birthdays are special for me. Yet I’ve come across people, including foreign students, who’ve hardly celebrated their birthdays, either because they can’t afford it or they’ve no one to share their special day with. For that matter, many have spent Christmas and New Year’s on their own, without so much as a seasonal greeting from anyone. It often scares me when I think of the lonely, aged, poor and homeless who sometimes don’t even know what day it is. We take so much for granted.
When I had my birthday parties as a child, I always invited some of my poorer schoolmates and gave them something to take home. I was brought up to respect my peers and to be generous to the less fortunate.
Over the years here in Ireland, I’ve enjoyed my birthdays with a wide variety of friends from diverse backgrounds, young and old, affluent or less well-off. As time went on the parties got bigger and bigger, sometimes attended by up to 300 people! Many travelled from outside Dublin, too. And believe it or not, on some occasions there would even be a write-up in the papers about my party and the celebrities who attended – great for the ego, eh?
My last big birthday bash was about 10 years ago. I had not been back home to Malaysia for almost a decade and it was the first time my birthday was celebrated there since I left home as a student. It was extra special as I got to spend it with some of my Malaysian colleagues who had studied or worked here in Ireland before. Some of my Irish friends were there too, and we had great craic!
In stark contrast, last year I spent my birthday helping some friends with their immigration problems. I wonder what this year will bring…

By the way, after reading my previous article, a friend rang to find out if I really did give somebody a white rose and a card with a poem declaring my love and faithful friendship on Valentine’s Day. All I said was that she’s already packing to go back to Europe soon, and as I write I’m looking forward to meeting her for a nice chat on my birthday.
As for my dear friend, best wishes to you, my lucky star Bonita, with blessings on all your future endeavours, and may our paths cross again.

Logan Raju is a Malaysian-Indian entrepreneur living in Ireland for 30 years.

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