My first thought when I woke up was “God I don’t want to wake up”. This was nothing new, I think this practically every day. Except today was a holiday. But surprisingly, today was not due to any existential angst but due to the fact that I had to pee.

Well, a bit of existential angst. I would’ve liked to sleep in more, given that when I actually woke up I felt hungover. Even though I hadn’t got smashed the previous night.

The first thing I did, despite myself, was to check if V had called. For a person who was trying to be cut off from the world, I checked my phone quite often. V had indeed called – not at 12 as I had hoped but at 12.55. Go figure. There was a voice message there which I ignored because I had a feeling it would ruin the somewhat steady feeling I had created for myself.

So I got up, fixed myself some tea and realised that I am not the kind of person who can do her own birthday breakfast feast. So I ate some bread and decided to tackle the voicemail, all the while steadfastly ignoring the calls that were coming in. The only four people in the world I wanted to talk to on this day were my dad, mum, sister and V. While I am fond of many other people, I don’t absolutely need to hear from them on this day of mixed feelings and the thought of explaining to caller after caller that I was doing nothing out of semi-choice and evading the pity was too much. Some friends had already been pre-warned that I was going to be incommunicado. Luckily, they know I am weird so that’s ok. Hopefully. Whatever, it’s my birthday.

Unfortunately, the sound of V’s voice on voicemail made me start crying and worse still, he chose to call just as I was gulping and blowing my nose. Wisely I ignored his call until I had steadied myself and called him back.

I spent the rest of the day trying not to want to smoke, not because I was determined not to smoke because the fact that I had bought cigarettes meant that I was going to but because I didn’t want to before going to the gym.

Yes, I was going to the gym on my birthday. Because one of my resolutions this year is going to be not to be fat and that cannot be achieved by gym put-offness.

Sadly, this meant that endless procrastination ensued in which I could not budge self from the couch. So my voyage of self discovery – in which I was supposed to take off to a lonely island with a book and shrink myself – was somewhat delayed.

At one point, the doorbell rang and I saw a delivery man there. For one moment, I thought it was flowers from V. It turned out to be the town gas maintenance man. This almost set off the waterworks again but the thought of cigarettes to come quenched it.

I then decided that since remote island plan was clearly not happening I should be less ambitious and aim for a tattoo instead. I guess surviving a birthday without V and without any other company and conquering fear of pain should be enough achievement without having to traipse off to lonely island.

Numbness that had befallen me – punctuated by sudden tear-threats – proved handy in quickly doing some research, selecting a tattoo parlour, calling and booking. However, when I spoke to V later I began to have doubts. First of all, I didn’t know what I wanted tattoed. I only knew I wanted a tattoo. This is not necessarily a good approach but then, at least I had wanted one for the past ten years even if I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. Also, I had always wanted Chinese characters and here I was in HK. What better way to mark my time here and all this city has given me than to have it painfully branded on my skin? And also to ensure no embarassing mistakes because hopefully Chinese people know how to write Chinese.

With the lingering possibility of having ‘foolish Indian girl’ written on my shoulder forever, I set off for Causeway Bay to mark this my 28th year on planet earth….