Over the years, the Birthday Cake has taken on a significant and central role in the Birthday Party, often defeating the Birthday Boy or Girl, with a small margin. The situation is bad, if not critical. Friends, it’s time to review this silent insurgency and take stock of how bad the situation is. I will present some data to make my point.

1. Ordering the Cake – Several agonizing moments are spent on deciding the shape, flavour, size and so on. I have been party to terse phone calls/email exchanges during the run up to the party.

‘I can’t find Tigger in their catalogue. Will he be ok with Winnie the Pooh? (Throws in the trump card) Both are in the same colour theme so you won’t have to redo the invitation cards.’

‘Don’t you know he hates Winnie the Pooh? Haven’t you NOTICED?’

(At this point, I’d like to mention that men don’t really NOTICE things that are unsaid, simply insinuated or hinted. And women live with a mission of sensitizing them to NOTICE things. )

‘So what I do?’

That’s a wrong question most men ask at the wrong time. Thankfully, they are several kms away at this time.

(Losing patience) ‘Look for some other things he likes…a lion face or a car’.

Of course, we have not yet gotten to the part regarding the flavours. When I was a little girl, the only flavour we had was ‘sugar’. Unless, during those creative moments in our home, when my sister made ‘bournvita’ and ‘glucose biscuit’ flavoured confectionary occasionally.

Today, even ‘black forest’ and ‘butter scotch’ are passé. As per one study, a new flavour takes birth every 4 days. New flavours are taking birth even as I write, I swear on the kiwi-mango mousse cheesecake I had recently.

Then there are sizes , but they need to be viewed in conjunction with shape. For example, a well-endowed mermaid, worth her, errr tail, cannot be made for less than 4 kgs. However, if you want JUST the mermaid’s face (I see most men logging off my blog now), you can get a decent one for 2 kgs.

Phew, cake ordering can get you creamed!

2. Taking pictures of the Cake – This important ritual begins with someone (usually a woman) yelling, ‘Where is the camera?’ Then someone (usually a man, often spouse) scurries towards another room. And, does not return for a while. Woman waits for a while, rolling her eyes and muttering under her breath and then goes to the room. Man is spotted trying to plug the battery charger of the camera in.

‘I have been telling you to charge that damn thing for 3 days now….’

(To be honest, I look forward to most birthday parties just for this moment. And when it happens, I take out my little note pad and put down the count. I need 3 more to complete a 100.)

People huddle around the cake, staring at it. Some, like me, take out a pair of handcuffs at this point: you see, my children love to poke cakes. It runs in the family. We belong to a family of pokers. We have poked hundreds of cakes: we sometimes gatecrash into birthday parties just to poke into cakes. But, now, we are trying to give up the habit and handcuffs help in case we have withdrawal symptoms.

Then comes the moment: taking pictures of the cake. This is done from 2 angles : one is the ‘MESSAGE VIEW’ in which the sweet message is captured (Usually, ‘Happy Birthday, NAME ’ unless you have a funny bone in which case it becomes ‘Happy Birthday RUDE NICKNAME ’ or you have a sentimental side, in which case it is ‘Happy Birthday ENDEARMENT ’.

The other angle is the ‘CANDLE VIEW’ in which the candles are seen prominently.

Assuming Bangalore’s population is around 1.5 million, out of which 1000 folks celebrate birthdays with cakes every day, we are talking of 2000 photos being taken and uploaded on networking sites every day. Of Cakes. Have you ever thought how much global warming we are contributing to with this ritual?

Smearing the Cake – This ritual happens, more at the workplace than at homes. I have seen this emerge only over the last 4-5 years. This is around the same time a lot of research in the area of ‘work stress’ emerged. In this act, several co-workers dig into the cake, scooping out clumps to smear the birthday boy/girl’s face with. As several join in the revelry, others cheer, take photos, adding to, on an average 4.5 more photos, in addition to the standard ‘MESSAGE VIEW’ and ‘CANDLE VIEW’ shots.

However, one person is left standing, forlornly, staring at the misshapen mound, oozing cream from its multiple wounds. This is the designated cake-cutter of the department whose job was to slice the cake and distribute it.

As per one calculation, if we ban this ritual, 2 poor people can celebrate birthdays, with a cake of their own, every 5 minutes in India.

With this I leave you for some ‘cake for thought’ and for those of you left wondering where I got all those statistics from, let me just say, ‘twas a piece of cake…

So long – will be back soon!!