• this is india birthday in india

This is India! 54

Welcome back to This is India! I always have funny/weird stories about India to share with friends or family when I talk to them. This is just meant to be an honest portrayal about my life in India through short anecdotes. I also share here what I’ve been up to online outside Werkenntwen.

What I was up to other than here:

  • I’ve been in Langkawi, Malaysia all week. I’m heading back in a couple days then leave straight away to the US through the end of July. Poor Ben will be stuck in Goa for a month in the monsoon with just our crazy dog and cat.
  • Hope you have been following along my for pics from Langkawi!

Now your story,

Our housekeeper (it’s not weird in India to have one!) came into the house smiling ear to ear with a chocolate cake and a bottle of coca-cola. She said “I brought you cake, it’s my birthday!”

I felt HORRIBLE! I wished I’d known it was her Birthday so that I could get her a cake. This was a couple years ago before I knew that in Indian culture, the birthday girl or boy brings snacks and cakes, or takes other people out for a meal. It’s the total opposite in America.

Ben mentioned that in the UK when it’s someone’s birthday, the birthday boy covers the bill at dinner. In the US, the birthday boy is the only one who doesn’t pay and everyone else covers their share as their present. I found that pretty shocking.

It makes me wonder how many other countries have such giving birthday boys and girls! I still give presents here in India, but even this year my housekeeper did that exact same thing and brought a cake and soda, didn’t have a piece until after us (although we insisted), and wouldn’t let us clean the plates.

This is India!

Did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! I’d love to keep giving you travel tricks & tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail in the big purple box below. Don’t forget you can follow me on , ,  & bloglovin‘.

feature image: source


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Mukesh June 12, 2015 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    Ya that’s the tradition here.
    The birthday boy or girl throws a party and pays for it. While his/her friends give him/her birthday gifts.

  2. Justine June 13, 2015 at 9:03 am - Reply

    Haha, it’s the same here in Indonesia. At my boyfriend’s university whenever one of his fellow professors or students has a birthday they bring food for everyone else. I agree being American we found this to be so weird. His students always ask when his birthday is because they want presents :)

  3. Naomi June 13, 2015 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    I will forever be very fascinated by all these difference cultures. Hope she enjoyed her birthday but I’m sure she did!

  4. Tim UrbanDuniya June 13, 2015 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Awww that’s sweet! It’s the same here in Pakistan… the birthday boy/girl gives the treat! Happy birthday to your housekeeper :)

  5. Melanie June 14, 2015 at 12:54 am - Reply

    So interesting! That’s how it was in Indonesia too! When it was your birthday you had to bring in lunch for the rest of the office. As an american you do feel kinda weird about it!
    Melanie @meandmr.com

  6. Melanie June 14, 2015 at 10:53 am - Reply

    So interesting to see the differences. In Austria we make cakes when we invite friends for our birthday or the birthday girl/boy pays the bill in a restaurant or maybe only the drinks. It’s also common to bring something to the office whether its lunch or a homemade cake.

  7. Laura @ Bottled Air June 14, 2015 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Aww your housekeeper sounds so sweet! In Switzerland the birthday boy or girl brings a cake to school and then shares it with the whole class – but that’s only in primary school!

    • Rachel Jones June 15, 2015 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      that’s so sweet! so maybe it’s only america who does it the way I know

  8. Kelly June 14, 2015 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    In NZ when it’s your birthday you take in cakes to work however in Australia it’s the opposite.
    Bliss your little housekeeper bringing in cake; she sounds lovely!

  9. Zara @ Backpack ME June 15, 2015 at 5:26 am - Reply

    It’s really nice that she brought you guys cake. It shows she cares!
    Another funny Indian tradition is that the birthday boy/girl cuts the 1st piece of cake and feeds the entire party directly from his/her hand… so everyone’s biting on the same piece of cake. I was a bit surprised the 1st time that happened at a birthday party with Indian people.. but, oh well, in India sharing really is caring!! :D

    • Rachel Jones June 15, 2015 at 5:43 pm - Reply

      that would have surprised me too! I was shocked to learn that mom’s feed their kids with their hands even as adults. some of my friends’ moms do when they go home from goa to delhi

  10. pamela hayward June 16, 2015 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Have been really enjoying your Indian stories as I am heading there in November on A food tour which finishes in Goa. I want to explore more of the south (kochi, karella etc). Do you have any suggestions? I will be travelling with one my girlfriends (we are middle aged but young in heart and spirit). We don’t want a big tourist bus or fancy hotels….

    • Rachel Jones June 16, 2015 at 12:19 pm - Reply

      ooo a food tour- sounds nice! well for kerala i recommend gomowgli who is having tours there now (small group) i did a month with them last year in karnataka. check out my karnataka posts as well it was a blast

  11. Haili Britton July 7, 2015 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    Ummmm yahhh, think I will be keeping my birthday info to myself then, unless back in the US. Haha!

    Found it funny too, when my indian bf came home after work on his bday, he walked through the door with his own cake to give to me to find another cake on the table that i had bought for him!

Like the Article? Leave a Reply