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Friday, January 1, 2010

Birthday today, not really

Friday, January 1, 2010
8:00 AM, Carrollton, TX

I was looking at the number of people listed as born on January 1 on the Facebook, they are too many, the longest list I have seen. For many, it is really not their birthday; they were born on another day.

They are usually from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and in their fifties. A whole lot of them are from suburban areas of their country. I did run into a few from other nations who were born twice like me.

Most of us were born at homes and in small towns where no effective birth registration process was in place during the first decade of independence of the countries of the subcontinent. When they took us to schools for registration, they did not even have a birth certificate, so the parents said “put it January 1" and that's how we got it.

With the need to have accurate census, and the five year plans that India embarked upon, things changed. Even that was not accurate until the babies were birthing in hospitals. My Dad was also the hereditary chief of a town, they called him the Patel of Sitarampur, a tiny village about 70 miles from Bangalore and until I left the country in 1977, he was still visiting Sitarampur and getting his assistant to report births and deaths to the then burgeoning census bureau till his death in 1977. No one in the family wanted to continue in that role, so it went to his cousin my uncle.

I am a year older than I am. This is funny language isn't it? It's been funny from the title itself.

I was born on January 26, 1953 and my Dad took me to school to register, he was the Mayor of the town of Yelahanka, the town which gave birth to Bangalore (although my friend Dr. Shariff argues that it was the town of Magadi) then, and I was four years old. He had already taught me how to read and write in four languages; Urdu, Hindi, Kannada and English.

The schools then followed one rule - the kids have to be 5 years old. Heck, in one minute, I became a five year old boy and my birthday registered was January 1, 1952. That is what has stuck with me and many more that are in my age group. It is listed on all my records, including my passport. But I celebrate it on 26th. In fact, except my Drivers license and passport and official records, I have listed my birthday on 26th, including here on the face book. My friend Abusaleh Shariff tagged here on facebook had only one birthday - May 5, 1953, he was also from a small town but his Dad was the Head Master of the school in Magadi.

There are many of us here in the US and back home in India who get birthday wishes on one day, but celebrate on the other. If you can relate with it, let us know.

Mike Ghouse
My profile: http://www.mikeghouse.net/ProfileMikeGhouse.asp
Dr. Shariff, if you trust wiki Dr. Shariff - Here is wiki on Yelahanka - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kempe_Gowda_I

Pictures: when I was six L-R: My sister, Mom, Grandma, me and my brother infront Victoria Hospital, where I was born 10 lb, 2 ounces - my mother kept saying that they gave her some kind of silver medal for delivering a big one.


  1. Peggy Larney Let me share the "American Indian" birthday story. The Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes was appointed by President Grover Cleveland in 1893 to negotiate land with the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole tribes. It is commonly called the Dawes Commission, after its chairman, Henry L. Dawes.

    Tribe members were entitled to an allotment of land, in return for abolishing their tribal governments and recognizing Federal laws. In order to receive the land, individual tribal members first had to apply and be deemed eligible by the Commission. Then a Roll Number was assigned to the
    "eligible Indian person." This was happening from 1898-1914.

    Our tribal names were changed because the register agents couldn't spell it or had been told to assign Anglo names. 99.9 percent of our people didn't have birth certificates and guessed when they were born or were "given" a birth year. My father was one of those people. He never knew his actual birthday/birthyear but celebrated the one on his "Dawes Roll Book". This was true for many Indians!

  2. I hereby state that whatever I speak now in these columns is true to my best knowledge and belief which I gathered so far. Official papers know that 08.12.1951 is my date of birth and it is registered in all official documents including the passport etc. But it is not true for me. I was admitted in the school directly in Class 2 and my own maternal... See More uncle who was at that time just 3 years senior took me to the school and I remember that HariNarayan master asked my maternal uncle what was my date of birth ( Janam Dinaank), my maternal uncle fumbled like anything. And it was HariNarayaan master who made my date of birth as this date recorded here. He gave me a book : I started reading.. virtually I was describingh the photographs: Monkey is ringing the bell of the school on the tree... and so on. Only for this I was admitted directly into class 2.

    I was first borne on earth for the Maid who just brought me out from the womb of the Mother.. that was really the moment of birth.. then I got borne for my mother..she was the second knower of birth;; then after few minutes my family member.. then after few hours my neighbours.. and for this world really I took birth on the date as mentioned above. As I became progressing in age.. it became curious to me.. and i started gathering data.. from my mother.. my grandfather.. my father.. and all confused me a lot.. that time in India issuing birth certificate procedure was not 100% in place. And then I put one to one my mother with my neighbour women... whose sons and daughters etc.. and I got further compounded.. so Dear Mike.. in my case it is certain that the above date is not the real date of birth. Then with al my best engineering calculation.. I decided to finalize my own date of birth for my own celebration...though my FACEBOOK friends sent me HAPPY BIRTHDAY on this date.. With love and regards.. HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR 2010 TO ALL AND WHO READ THIS. My love.. drbmsharma.

  3. Ha ha ha ha its a very common story indeed!!! My date of birth was given by the office attender of my dad, he mixed it all up. The church records show 19th dec 1952, the school records show 24th Nov 1951 or 1952 I have to check the school leaving certificate but I know there was some confusion when joining college.

    I asked my dad why this happened and dad said: Who knows daughter girl, with nine kids one after the other , I must have been high when I filled up your school application form.

  4. Lubna my husband has his b'day enlisted in FB as Jan 1 too... only coz he's too weary abt giving out too much details (quite contrary to me!) ;))
    but in reality, his real b'day and the one in his passport is also diff... u guys with this similar kinda story :)) shud all get together n form a club or something lololol
    Mike Uncle, as usual... wonderfully written :)) Allah aapko hamesha aabaad aur salaamat rakhay ameen!!
    about an hour ago ·

  5. What a lovely photo !!!
    .. and one can clearly see it is you Mike, by the eyes, the forehead, the hairline and the shape of the face...

    And as I wrote on my profile status .. there are 48 fb friends on my page, who have birthday today !! ..and after have read your interesting note, I understand quite many are celebrating their birthdays twice a year..! Now.. isn't that nice after all !? ;-))

  6. I was reminded of the Boarding school I studied in at Villupuram -Tamil Nadu. It was horrible , but education came first, next we girls had to be guarded and protected as Mum was a teacher who left home by 7 AM and returned late nights by 9PM had to give extra tuitions from house to house to make ends meet. My dad would leave home by 9 AM and return by 6 PM. Our day schools got over by 3 30 PM.With 9 kids, it was too much for dad to manage single handed the three girls .We were so pretty, and active too, hence boarding was the only place for our safety as decided by my mother and my father's sister.

    It was here that my sister and I formed a kind of a routine Birthday every other month. She she has celebrated 6 months in a year and I too celebrated 6 months in the year. How??? The boarding sister * NUN would be changed every month, so children were treated well, and had no problems with the nuns in charge etc. Hence, I would ask for permission to go out in the school bus after school hours, saying: Sister tomorrow is my birthday, I have to buy sweets for my classmates. Out I would go,with a long list from all the other boarders who kept up the birthday joke.I would get to wear a pretty coloured dress and distribute the cheapest of sweets bought by the other girls who wanted me to buy their extra stuff for the month. Lucky me, I got to wear a coloured dress and distribute sweets too.... See More

    In like manner my younger sister would celebrate her birthday the next month.So our tuck boxes were never empty. Then the other girls followed our trick and this went on as afar as I do remember till we left the boarding school.

    Yes, I did celebrate my birthday 6 months in a year and my younger sister too had a birthday for the other six months of the year at sacred Heart convent under the Headmistress Sister Rosemarie.Camelite order.

  7. I was just celebrated once a year .. and sometimes on the`name day´ (middle name Maria) as Vanja wasn't include in the Swedish Calender.In Sweden, each day has one or two names to be celebrated and in older days mainly the once with their names in calender were celebrated.

  8. Peggy, Barbara, Vanja, Angie, Brijmohan, Lubi... amazing stories.

    On my birthdays, my Mom would cook "kheer" its like grits, or shredded wheat grains cooked with milk and nuts and all of us would sit down - and they would give the blessings of long life and then we would eat.

    But, I would not wear new clothes or new shoes, I had no idea why I ... See Morerefused to wear new clothes and shoes. I would climb up on the roof top, and sit behind the chimney for hours and then come back down. I used to like that solititude and just stare into the sky and thought about everything in life and have gazed at stars endlessly.

  9. Perhaps you already know that horses, especially in North America, also share your January 1 birthday. And that they all advance a year in age on January 1 regardless of when they were actually born. Here is one reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse#Age So a horse born in February and a horse born in November would both become yearnings on January 1.