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Birthday With This Guy!

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It was a tripper’s birthday on Feb 1. The only difference being that Atishi Batra’s birthday would fall one day after the trip got over.

That doesn’t really stop us from celebrating, does it? What is life without some surprises, without some music and without some cake.

We were already in Varkala, Kerala’s prettiest beach cliff town. Our resort was a lovely one by the sea, with a swimming pool, cottages and a lot of greenery inside.

Earlier in the day, the plan was that while all of us would be sitting inside my cottage, two people would slip out and light diyas all around the swimming pool at 12 midnight. Then a float would be put in the pool and the cake would be put on top of it and we’d ask Atishi to step into the pool and cut the cake. But Arjun, the resort owner told us that the breeze would blow off the light in the diyas so we decided to change plan.

So, we went ahead and created a treasure hunt. We were ten people in all, two each staying in five cottages. Five clue cards were created. Each card had some funny/adventurous/silly experiences from the lives of two people staying in each cottage, without mentioning any names. The best thing was that she had no idea all this was being done.

At 12 in the night, I called Atishi to the poolside and gave her clue one and told her that it was her job to find out which two roomies the clue was talking about. If she figured it correctly and went and gave them their clue card, they would give her a gift and another clue card which would be about another room.

From the first room, Atishi got a chocolate as a gift. From the second, a glass of apple sangria. From the third, flowers. From the fourth, another chocolate and from our room, she got a poem. And clues from every room. Every time she left a room, the inhabitants would steal out of the resort and go to their beach side cafe, where a cake had already been placed. Since our room was the last clue, once she was inside, besides me and Nehil (my roomie), everyone else was ready and waiting at the cafe. While Atishi was engaged in conversation, Nehil disappeared to tell everyone we would be coming. I asked Atishi if she would like to go for a walk to the beach and she had no clue where she was actually being taken. Moments later, the two of us had reached the gazebo at the beach side resort cafe and amid loud shrieks and laughter, the cake was lit, music was played and we all sang to usher in her birthday.

In a dramatic sequence, Arjun (the resort owner) who was hiding above, even from us, turned some switches on the moment she cut the cake and the whole gazebo was lit up in a string of small colorful bulbs.

Later, Atishi read out personal notes that everyone had written for her out aloud, and ten strangers lost themselves to the sea breeze, to the sound of the waves, to all the bonding and love that had been created over the past one week.

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Neeraj Narayanan

Neeraj Narayanan, a.k.a Captain Nero, is the founder of OHOT. In the summer of 2013, he quit his corporate job and went backpacking around the world. In a year full of (mis)adventures, he ended up being chased by a bear in a Croatian forest, being held at gunpoint by a mafia gang lord in Turkey, running with the bulls in Spain, and dancing in the clubs of Spain and Italy. A year later, he started leading group trips for people.

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