I recently went to a work colleague’s first ever birthday party. He turned 52. I told him that if he were in Australia and this was his first birthday party, they would write a newspaper article about him. People would also say that hey had cruel parents, assuming they we’re Jehovah Witnesses that is. I was notified of his impending birthday the day before by another work colleague. They had seen it on his ID card earlier in the year and had written it down in their calendars.

In the morning I said happy birthday to him. He was a bit confused didn’t seem to understand what I was saying. At first he said, no it wasn’t his birthday. Then I told him other people had said it was. After a bit more thinking he realised it was his birthday and said he had forgot. I do not think people in Laos celebrate their birthdays very much, and I found it incredible that he had forgotten his own birthday.

He decided to hold a birthday party at his house later that afternoon. We ended up drinking Lao Lao his brother made, stored in an old 7Up bottle, and eating grilled water buffalo skin.