It was the month of august and I had no idea that my sensei’s birthday was close. Honestly I had never celebrated my sensei’s birthday before. Even though I have been in this lab for a year and half yet I never thought of asking about it either (it’s strange!! my mistake). It was Khan who came up with the idea. When he told me, “let’s celebrate our sensei’s birthday,” I was surprised. I asked myself if we could actually do that; he said, “Yes, of course!” (Khan compared to me is senior in our Lab. He worked in our lab couple of years ago and now has joined for a second time).
I was super excited and told him that we have to do it but! It has to be a real surprise. Tanaka sensei shouldn’t feel any thing suspicious going on or that someone tells him about it. So we agreed to keep it a secret. (this was one week before our sensei’s birthday), only I, him and Nguyen knew about it. The problem though was that our sensei on his birthday had a business trip and he wasn’t going to be in the lab. Our plan was about to fail! We thought about it then we came up with a new plan. We decided to organizing it on the day of Danwakai (our Lab meeting); in the same week of his birthday. Mostly every body then would be there and it wouldn’t interrupt any body’s work because it was weekend. We knew it was going to be a little bit delayed from the actual date but from an other perspective it was the perfect day. Now to keep things secretive, we had to keep quite and not tell any body in our lab about it till the day of the party. We had to prepare everything beforehand because on the day of party we had Danwakai, a meeting that we couldn’t skip). So we decide to go shopping from Costco (a big supermarket, that sells a lot of goods at reasonable prices especially pastries, 20km from Sendai).
We wanted to go on Friday night, the night before the party but the problem was that how were we going to store the cake that night as the cake would be big. So we went shopping that night at around 7pm and bought the cake and some drinks (we also had pizza and some ice cream as we wanted to have fun that night). When we returned to Sendai afterward and measured the size of the cake, it seemed it wouldn’t fit neither in my fridge nor the Khan’s, so we called a friend who had a bigger fridge. We went to his place, tried to fit cake in his fridge but that didn’t work either . It was a big problem for us, the cake would get ruined if we didn’t cool it during the night. The only solution we could think of so far was to buy some ice and put the cake in a box filled with ice during the night so the cake would stay intact so that’s what we did. I took the cake with me that night, put some ice cubes in the kitchen sink, lay the cake there (the cake was already covered with plastic) and covered the sink. I slept that night well, woke up in the morning, loaded the car with drinks and cake and drove to our university. The plan that morning was to let every body go upstairs to the meeting room and before the end of the meeting we were to unload the car and prepare the party. We attended the meeting that morning as usual and acted that nothing was going on. Before the last presentation (we usually have 4 presentations in each Donwakai), we went downstairs to our lab and tried to act fast. We set the table and the chairs. We put the cake in the middle with some candles (we had only 7 candles so we decorated them on the cake but it didn’t make sense!! everybody later asked what did seven signify?). Then we surrounded the table with coke cans ( the drinks we actually bought were coke cans and green tea), small paper plates and spoons. The room at that moment was missing the surprise element; it was the birthday message that we wanted our sensei to see first when he entered the room. We had printed “Happy birthday Tanaka sensei” on 4 A4 papers and had hanged them on a movable white board. We gave a final check to everything and we went back to the meeting.
Now before the final task we had to inform everybody in the room about the party without letting Tanaka sensei finding out. I had an idea. I asked Fromel sensei for a piece of paper (as he was taking some notes during the meeting using a note book), I wrote a small message telling everybody that today we are celebrating our sensei’s birthday after the meeting but they have to keep quite and try to surprise Tanaka sensei afterwards. Each one read the paper and passed it to the person next to him. All of them read the paper secretly but our sensei. (I was wondering if he had seen some people reading the paper or had sensed something going on especially when the paper reached the first row where he was sitting with rest of the sensei). After the meeting we all packed, set the meeting room back as it was before our meeting and went downstairs, trying to beat Tanaka sensei to the Lab and arrive before him.
We arrived in our lab, turned off the light and started waiting.
Tanka sensei took some time to arrive actually so Khan went out to check on him. He immediately returned in hurry and said ‘’he’s coming, he’s coming. The moment Tanaka sensei opened the door and entered we turned the lights on and everyone said “Surprise!!!”. He really got surprised, then laughed. He was so happy to see that. He didn’t expect it at all (we were also so happy to see him getting surprised). We sang the birthday song for him and he came up to blow off the candles and as expected he asked about the candles’ number. He said that it wasn’t related to his age or something else.
We explained to him that they were all what we had so we used them. He blew over the candles and every body clapped. The cake was big and it wasn’t obvious how to cut it. So the girls Nguyen and Thao helped him for that.
We were supper hungry; by then it was almost 1 pm and no body had taken his lunch. They cut us big pieces, I was glad they did that and almost all of us finished the cake, it was delicious. Our sensei gave us a small speech afterwards. He said he was really surprised by the party and was very happy. He thanked everybody for the day and said he appreciated everything. We had so much fun that day. Members of our lab were hanging out, every body was happy for Tanaka sensei.
I admit that we have attended other parties before in our lab as we usually celebrate different occasions like welcoming new members to our lab or at the graduation of other member but this one was special. This one was the first time that we celebrated something that concerns our sensei. So it felt special. The thing that we didn’t prepare thought was the presents but we decided that next time we would try to make a better plan because there will be a next time for sure. We have already decided to redo it next year hopefully on the exact date of our sensei’s birthday and also have to think about an element of surprise because we know that next time our sensei will suspect things and when he reads my blog he will definitely know (Let’s see how it goes next year!).