Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Big Three Ohhh !!!

You would foresee it years in advance, coming at its own slow pace like an ominous red signal prepping to stop everything fun in your life. Like a morbid, fear instigating animal sprawled on its limbs, slowly crawling and showing its claws and tentacles from a distance, you will never be more aware or petrified of something approaching. It should not be a big deal after all, it’s just another birthday. But then, it ends up being a big deal. In a way, it’s a milestone reached and crossed, a milestone after which you are no longer considered in the bracket of energetic, enthusiastic, eligible, and highly coveted age group that you call the twenties.
They say you do not hit thirty, thirty hits you. Whoever this “they” is, they could not be closer to the truth. Like a whack of reality on the head, it hits you hard. So what changes so drastically in that one day? Everything actually. You go to sleep being 29, and then you wake up the next morning not really knowing what hit your life and changed it forever. That is called turning 30.
I have been dreading this birthday even before I was 27. Call it social programming, cultural upbringing, whatever. It feels nothing close to the energetic Jitendra, white shirt, white pants, white shoes and all, gyrating his hips while playing badminton and popping those “30 plus” pills by the dozen. When I was a teenager, anyone 30 years old was just OLD. Plain and simple. When I was in my mid-twenties, I would not even look at anyone 30 years or older. Little did I know how I would feel while I approached that age.
The interesting irony is, I do not ever remember being so petrified of entering the twenties. Heck, I do not even remember my 20th birthday. Back calculating, I know I was in Kolkata, somewhere at the fag end of my undergraduate education. However, I do not specifically remember the 20th birthday as being a big deal or a milestone. If anything, I was happy to be done with my teens, and hoped I would be henceforth taken seriously and not be dismissed from adult conversations and asked to go entertain the kids of uncles and aunties who visited us.
So how would it feel like being 30? I thought I have two more months to find out, but I think I know the answer already. You have perhaps never been more aware of your bones creaking every time you try to shake your hips to the beats of Beedi Jalaile at a dance party. There are imminent health issues and you have suddenly entered the “more at risk” category. The acne and oily skin nightmares of the twenties are replaced now by the wrinkles and white hair nightmares of the thirties. In fact, you would be lucky to have whitening hair, which means you still have hair on your head to boast about. Some unfortunates with receding hairlines and balding issues will not even get a chance to color their hair.
99% of your friends are married by now, and you cannot relate to 99% of them. The career and job-hunting uncertainties of the twenties are now replaced by “mother-in-law is a pain in the ass” issues, “my husband never throws the trash” issues, or “the child needs to be reared well” issues. Your friends discuss alien topics animatedly, alien to you at least, which include, but are not restricted to paying off mortgages for that house, getting a citizenship, or investing in the college education of the child who is yet to be born in 3 months. Although you are in the age bracket eligible to be the president of the United States, you realize dishearteningly that you were never bright enough to be the President of any country, not in this lifetime anyway. It is a big accomplishment training the domestic partner to vacuum the house bi-monthly, let alone having big aspirations for changing the world. A moment of truth, faced with certain stark realities, you realize you have grown more respectful towards your parents, whose opinions never mattered to you before this.
Your worst nightmare is no longer related to maintaining a perfect figure, you are long past that age when you could even hope for a presentable figure. Now, you are worried about sagging bellies and mammary glands, dysfunctional hormones, plummeting sex drives, approaching menopausal issues, and imminent health issues like cholesterol, blood pressure, and cancer. You hear horror stories about someone’s colleague’s relative who died of a heart attack on his 32nd birthday in the process of cutting the cake. Blowing 32 candles with gusto just proved to be fatal for him. Going to the gym is no longer optional, it is the only option you have if you do not want to die like that colleague’s relative. Every time you try to sit, stand, or start fantasizing about running that half-marathon, your knees make a funny sound, mocking you. Your biological clock is not longer just ticking tick tock, it has gone berserk like the shrieking alarm that wakes you from your sweet slumber every morning. You are no longer a badass hiking the rocks of Badlands in South Dakota on the weekend. You are a well-settled, domesticated member of the species with a family to shoulder the responsibility for. Accept it, you are no longer the lion or even the wolf of the jungle, hunting singularly and living singly with pride. You are now a cow, a big, fat cow that only mingles with other cows and chews cud with other cows in herds. Your belligerent personality is gone. The mountain bike has been replaced by a family size SUV, strollers and diaper bags and all. You are found spending the once adventurous weekends (when you hiked 20 miles or had 20 straight tequila shots in a row without falling sick) at the farmer’s market or at Chuck E. Cheese.
To avoid complications, repercussions, and outcries, I will keep this as gender neutral as I can, which will still not dissolve the bleak clouds of possibilities the gates of thirties open for you. You can hate me for this post, or make strong arguments, which will only establish your lack of humor, or lack of understanding of humor as you approach your thirties. And it’s not only the lack of humor. You are slowly approaching that age of hormonal lull, and these days you can fall asleep, snoring and drooling and all, even in the middle of watching porn. You are more philosophical, sedentary, hang out in packs or herds of other people similar to you, and while you spent the previous decade being a party animal dancing away to glory high on alcohol, you feel more at peace singing bhajans and devotional songs in “satsangs” and learning the art of living (pun unintended), breathing in through one nostril and out through the other, to keep expectations low, anger in control, and to adopt pain, suffering, and the lack of materialistic greed as a means to obtain nirvana in life.
I can imagine how many people I have pissed off with this post. You would argue saying, “Hey, they say 30s is the new 20s”. Whoever these “they” are, they are a bunch of morons who either failed their math class or made a life out of bullshitting. 30s can never be the new 20s, you learnt your math way back in elementary school. If anything, thirty would always be forty minus ten. So if you are an optimist like I am, your only consolation is you are not turning 40 right away, an impending doomsday that would be approaching in a decade anyway if the world doesn’t lose you to heart attacks or high cholesterol. Although I would rather be in my twenties than in my thirties, I would any day be in my thirties than be in my forties. So I’ll stop inviting the same feeling of helplessness that I get when a dentist comes near my mouth with an injection, his assistant strapping my limbs so that there is no escape and I bear my pain and torture in silence, and stop resisting something that is so inevitable. I will try to stop mentally resisting turning thirty. For I have a few more months left to cherish the last bits and pieces of my twenties, or whatever remains of it.
sunshine

13 comments:

the.orchestra.of.life said...

dammmnn ... me too hitting 30 in a couple of months :) but for me it is somehow a liberating feeling. I feel that some pressures will be off my head once I hit 30. will see how it goes from there

Rachna said...

Wow! That was a cheerful post!

Rohini Prasanth said...

ayee... you hit it at the sore spot my friend. this is my first visit here, and what do I find? A post that echoes my deep dark fears. the dentist scenario included.
I am almost 27 now and the thought of 'the 30' has begun harassing me :( Although reading your post, I realise my picture of gloom is not as gloomy as yours. Or should I add 'yet'. sigh. I already am experiencing some of the stuff you have listed. Both humorously and humor-lessly.
I am warned, eh?
will be back for more.

Spiritual_Flame said...

I totally agree with you.. In twenties, we have big dreams, aspirations to change the world, to make differences.. But after marriage, or as you approach more towards settled life, imminent issues like cleaning, grocery shopping take precedence.
But I think it has more to do with single/married life rather than age. I am just 26, and can still relate to lot of things in this post. At last I can only say, as you are single, enjoy it most till you are held back by responsibilities!!

Me said...

sigh..i identify with each and every word of the post..just three more months for me :) I think its just entering the 30s post that enter any number it dosn't hit as hard..! And yes I wonder why I thought all 30 pluses were budhdhas when i was in my teens :)

sunshine said...

the.orchestra.of.life- Just out of curiosity, what pressures will be off when you are 30? I thought pressures only increase with age.

Rachna- Errr ... was that sarcasm? :)

Rohini- Welcome :) And relax ... this post has a scary tone to it, but that is how I wrote it. You don't have to see it that way :)

Spiritual_Flame- I think your marital status does play a role, but only somewhat.

Me- Well, am sure when it comes, we all will be fine :)

Abhishek Mukherjee said...

Been there. Done that.

I clearly remember hitting that T-word a few years back. Funnily, I do not have any recollection of reaching the other two Ts - ten and twenty. Possibly because life was so eventful at ten and twenty that I never bothered to ponder and notice what actually happened.

But at thirty, reality hits one hard. You suddenly realise that you do not want to ogle at that teenage hottie anymore - you'd rather go up and ask her whether she's studying hard enough for her board exams or not.

Random kids call you "kaku" (or "kakima" or whatever); the leading sportspeople are mostly younger than you and you suddenly start using the phrase "amra jokhon chhoto chhilam" a lot more.

Don't bother. Thirty isn't the new twenty, but as it is, life on this side of the number isn't repulsive either.

So, do I officially quit calling you "kid" now?

the.orchestra.of.life said...

I agree that pressures increase with age .. but for the time being there was a huge Indian social pressure lid on getting married before 30 which will go off my head. So now it does not matter much if I get married at 32 or 35 ..

Ithaca said...

Hi Sunshine,
I have been reading your posts since one of my friends told about your blogsite around 5 years back. But never had I sent any comment, though I felt like doing so many times. By reading some of your posts I got a feeling that you must be around my age which is probably why I could relate to your write-ups so very well. At times it felt like what you wrote were exactly my feelings on a particular topic. And after reading this write-up on approaching 30 I just could not resist writing to you. Even I turn 30 in a month u know, which means we are actually of the same age. And I too have been going through all kinds of feelings on turning 30, but nevertheless as ageing is an irreversible process so better to turn 30 gracefully!! :)

Rajarshi said...

Sunshine,

So many commentators of this post are about to be 'thirtiers'. Well so do I. But then why to look at it with such bleakness. They (and here they means people who have crossed thirty) say that it's fun on the so-called wrong side of thirty as well.The question is "Growing Old or "Growing Up". Everybody grows old but how many of us actually 'Grow Up'?
Yes, we all become cynical and risk averse with age but then I don't think that 30 is the time, many of the physical manifestations of aging you have talked about, hit you. OK. OK. I know that it's meant to be a humourous post :) But then honestly, many things make sense like your capacity for alcohol intake goes down (which I guess is a blessing in disguise) :)
But then I personally have never led the 'Live Fast Die Young' life even when one is supposed to that.
Baaki as they say 'Umar Pachpan Ki Dil Bachpan ka'. So feel young and stay young. :)

VM said...

haha...nice post....everything after 25 is down hill....30 or 40 yrs are just numbers :P

Kolor said...

What are all the issues ?
Health - People run their fastest marathons around 35. and do it all the way till 70.
Responsibilities - Don't marry and half your problems might be solved.
Loneliness - www.meetup.com / dog/ cat

lavixu said...

Loved the "In fact, you would be lucky to have whitening hair, which means you still have hair on your head to boast about."