Monday, June 7, 2010

U befsh nje qind vjec!

That's the traditional Albanian salutation on a birthday - May you live to a 100 years old!
I guess, under the despotic dictator, Enver Hoxha, that was indeed an optimistic wish worth bestowing, as he bumped off so many. On the other hand, I imagine many would have considered this similar to the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times" as life under Hoxha was so hard, & cruel.

Anyway today is my "ditelindjen". Since living abroad my birthdays have been a bit different from the usual day at work. Last year we went to a local gorge swimming, sunbathing, climbing rocks, all complete with picnic birthday cake. I had never spent a birthday like it!

Tara @ Sticky fingers is away this week, so there's no photo gallery, so I decided to do my own personal gallery of a birthday in the life of an ex-pat.
The gorge. I'm the one in the hat & turquoise rash vest. This year my birthday is a Monday, but as we had a visitor staying from the UK (our 3rd one in 3 weeks) we went back to the gorge yesterday, & out for a meal on Saturday. Being an 'ex-pat' birthday meant we ate outside in a roof terrace restaurant, next to this statue in fact, who kindly looked after our things. And I would just like to add, the rest of the restaurant was surprisingly tasteful, if a bit over the top...Today is the first day of my husband's 2 week long external audit, the most important work event for him of the last 2 1/2 yrs. He spent half the w/e (as well as manic hours this last 2 months), working, despite our visitor, so I was especially grateful to receive one of his, now trademark, hand made cards. Albania has few, if any greetings cards & my husband never has time to shop, & wouldn't know what to do in one anyway, so he has taken to making me cards from internet cartoon sites. Here's last year's offerings:

So this year, whilst I took our friend to the airport to fly home, he & my son made cards, blew up balloons & designed 'certificates' for flat presents. Albania doesn't have much to offer in the way of shops & as I said my husband is not the best shopper, or ideas man, at the best of times, & this is not the best of times for him with work. So I was very touched by the time & effort they put in. These were the results of their efforts this year:

My son's card made me laugh & it was, I realise the first time he's written something funny or made a joke. He suddenly seemed very grown up. I even got a 'flat present' (as we call them) from him. Like father, like son. It was a 'certficate' for a massage "Anywhere in Tirana" I thought he meant from him so I said "You can give me a shoulder massage now."
"No from a shop mum."
"But you don't have enough pocket money for that." I said
"No, but Daddy will pay, I expect." So not quite so grown up then, though quite canny.....

This was my husband's card. Very cool & retro don't you think?!

My daughter's card was a picture of us at the gorge, with a shark in the top left hand corner with its 'arms' in the air shouting 'hooray!' evidently. I never got to the bottom of why there was a shark in our gorge.... Also my daughter is defying gravity (right) & sticking horizontally to a rock next to a giant green frog. She & my 10 y-o collected about 50 tadpoles from the river & brought them home. They are feeding them boiled lettuce & my daughter, I am afraid, will 'imprint' them with too much familiarity as she keeps catching them in her fingers & playing with them. I am watching them avidly. The minute they grow legs they are going straight into the lake by our house. I do NOT want a plague of frogs in our flat (they're on our balcony at the moment in washing tubs) Only Available Exits: over the 3rd floor balcony wall, OR through the flat......

She pointed out her card 'doubles as a present', as it is a 'coloured in card' with pictures on 3 sides. She also said, in discussion today about old age, having babies (I said I'm too old to have more babies) & getting wrinkles when you get old, "But you're old Mummy, & you don't have wrinkles...." I think that doubles as a present too. I think....

And here's two of my presents. One to remind me of my roots, from an old, old friend whom I've known longer than I've not known her. (ie we met when we were 19)

And one from a very good, new friend I've made here, to remind me of my adopted home of Albania & some of the good things about it.


Miss Welcome said...

Happy birthday! And your daughter's comment does double as a present. ;o)

PantsWithNames said...

Happy Birthday! Love the Balkans. There are such lovely bits to it. My last birthday was spent climbing over an old fort that was so far from being National Trusted that you couldn't imagine the NT existed.

Albanian is very different to Bosnian!

London City Mum said...

Happy birthday! Love the cards, WAY better than anything you could get in the shops - plus you will treasure them for far longer.


nappy valley girl said...

Have a great birthday! The cards are fantastic. Who needs crappy commercial greeting cards anyway

Mwa said...

I LOVE those cards! Happy birthday!

Nappy Valley Housewife said...

You've gotta love the fact that you're a superhero AND the world's best cook and so many other fabulous things. Those cards are so much better than anything you buy in a shop. Happy Birthday!