We celebrated a lot of birthdays before we left.  Eli, Simmi, and myself had birthdays in April, while Faizan and Salman had birthdays in May.  My student, and friend, Sukrut, presented me with this cake:

And my brothers- and sisters-in-law got me this:

“Bhai” means brother and “sahab” is a term of respect.

For Eli’s birthday, Aunty Simmi got a very cool cake with lots of his favorite things, including chess, Uno, dinosaurs, iphones, and the TV show Friends, which we watched a lot in reruns while we were in India:


Speaking of Aunty Simmi, she’s an incredible artist.  Remember that bench I posted about way back when – the one I’d salvaged from the garbage early in our trip?  Well, I Shanghaied Simmi into painting the top, and what an amazing job she did!  Zeeshan pitched in as well (see if you can guess which part he did).  Here are some shots:


All  year, there was a guy who walked up and down the road in front of Gulistan (and we’d occassionally see him over near Bhatnager, too) with a camel, selling rides.  Eli and Zak were finally convinced to take one:

Coming soon: the story of our disastrous first attempt to leave India.  Spoiler alert – it didn’t go so well.