Whether you’re a big fan of birthdays or not, it’s a day of fun and best wishes from loved ones. With social distancing measures significantly narrowing options to go bar hopping or throw a party, how are people celebrating their big days?
For 24-year-old Aishwarya Reddy, a HR professional with EY, the day began with a cake delivery on behalf of her colleagues while they worked from home. And since her birthday fell on the same day as Ugadi (Telegu New Year) on 25March, she decided to dress up for the occasion.
“My parents always gift me new clothes on this day,” she told Indian Link. “Since I didn’t have to go to the office, I spent my birthday in a saree this year!”
In the evening, she gathered with her four flatmates for drinks and a unique birthday twist: social-distancing karaoke. Maintaining the 1.5 metre distance recommendation, the friends performed all the latest Billboard hits in their living room.
“I’d send you a video, but you’d want to mute it!” she exclaimed with a laugh.
Earlier this month, Nidhi Kaushik and her husband had booked Armidale Bowling Club for the ‘mad scientist’ themed birthday party of their 11-year-old daughter Vidhi. When stage-1 lockdowns by the federal government closed these public spaces, they decided to shift the party to their own home for a small gathering.
Two days after sending out messages about the change in venue, stage-2 lockdown came into effect. Not letting it come in the way of their daughter’s birthday, the Kaushiks came up with a fun solution.
“We decorated our house in a science theme and invited all Vidhi’s friends online,” Kaushik said, “We showed them live science experiments, played birthday games, danced, and cut the cake. All the kids loved it so much that they want to do it more often.”
Instead of birthday presents, the Kaushiks requested their guests to inspire at least one donor from their family to donate blood when the current COVID-19 crisis ends. It is a cause close to their heart ever since they lost their young child to leukaemia.
Of course, virtual birthdays aren’t just for the younger crowd.
Four months ago, Zia Chaney had big plans for a weekend getaway with the girlfriends to commemorate a friend’s 50th birthday. When lockdowns in India forced them to stay indoors, she came up with a unique proposition – a cocktail party hosted on Zoom.
“We were five couples, so there were ten of us on call although we all live in the same city. We dressed up, poured ourselves a drink in our living rooms, and talked for almost an hour,” she said. “It was nice to see everyone, and the birthday girl felt really special.”
Zia and her friends hope to recreate the virtual catch-up more frequently, especially as the lockdown has provided more free time for these working professionals.
“It’s something to look forward to when you are house-bound to this extent. Otherwise you hardly get to see other human beings,” Zia said.
Adityaveer Singh’s 25th birthday falls on the last day of India’s 21-day lockdown.
An assistant manager at Cushman & Wakefield Bangalore, Singh initially had birthday plans with two friends who were flying down from Delhi. With all domestic flights cancelled, he will have to make do.
“If I can’t throw a house party, I’ll just have to use the app,” he joked.
He refers to Houseparty, a social networking app that has become very popular this last month. Allowing for video chatting with a group of up to eight people, the app’s unique feature is push notifications to all friends when a user ‘joins the party’ (opens the app).
Also, it has games like Trivia and the Ellen DeGeneres-inspired Heads Up. Friends can jump in and out of ‘rooms’ to meet new people – like a house party.
“Maybe my birthday can actually be fun at home,” Singh said.