In times of coronavirus, families and friends have had to improvise on the way they approach big occasions like birthdays, wedding anniversaries, first steps of a child, etc.
Pre-outbreak, people would have come together under one roof to mark a birthday, but post-outbreak, joining in the festivities through Zoom has become the norm. The way birthdays are celebrated has changed, the new normal is switching out cakes with custards, halwas, breads when a cake isn’t available, people doing a drive-thru in cars with birthday messages and policemen surprising elderly with cakes on behalf of their children living in another city.
When software professional Venkat Harikiran Gadwal came to Hyderabad for some visa-related work in March, the plan was to finish the work quickly and head back to Detroit, Michigan, USA, in time for his daughter’s first birthday.
However, just days before his flight, India came under a lockdown. “My wife and I had planned to take our daughter to the Florida beach and spend the day there. After the lockdown, we had to improvise,” says Hari. The family celebrated the little one’s birthday with relatives contained in a grid on Zoom.
“I cut the cake with my parents on my daughter’s behalf, with my wife doing the same in Detroit. She was able to decorate the house with a banner and balloons helped by my mother-in-law,” adds Hari. His brother and brother-in-law joined in the fun from Bengaluru and Virginia respectively. His daughter may be too young to comprehend the unusual birthday she had, but her father is of the opinion that it was a unique first birthday.
Zoom, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Duo have all come in handy for such coordinated efforts. Baker Aditi Punetha used these tools to the fullest to help plan an online birthday party that spanned three cities — Mumbai, Delhi and Belgium. “We had planned to go to Mumbai for my brother-in-law’s birthday on April 29. Since we are all confined in different homes, we made a cake and trifle together over video call in the kitchen,” shares Aditi.
The menu consisted of her brother-in-law’s favourite foods and later the entire family played a Bollywood Trivia quiz which was won by the birthday boy and his wife.A regular celebration of sharing a meal in a restaurant with their families has shifted to watching movies indoors, people playing bingo, doing virtual picnics, and children sharing birthday messages online. Rajasekhar Kankanala who had planned to go out for a meal with his family to celebrate his birthday in April, did everything in the same spirit, only it was indoors.
“My wife made my favourite cake at home and then we had a Zoom call with my family and spent the time playing scrabble online. We normally go out to a restaurant, but made a full-fledged dinner at home instead,” shares Rajasekhar.
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