One could easily justify a long philosophical and rather reflective rant, on the next day of his 30th birthday, but then it’s me and whenever I’ve tried to justify anything much, it hasn’t quite worked.
It’s 8 AM in the morning, so unlikely I’ll get all emotional to thank people for being in my life and having helped me thus far, or show off my achievements within 30, easy to make anyone jealous, or list my regrets – an accumulation of left overs from the magazine bucket lists of ‘things to do before you’re 30’.
I’ve never been too big on birthdays. Kind friends would come by to celebrate at midnight, only to find me struggling to stay up, out of politeness. Sometimes, even that was tough and they’d gotten used to it. So is it just another day me? Perhaps not.
The first birthday in a long time, away from anyone who’d wish me in person. Of course, the video chats, calls, whatsapp messages and FB wallposts by friends come in as usual, so do some thoughtfully written personal notes. The flowers from wifey, and cake from family almost make it. You feel grateful for the thought all these people spent, a tad guilty of your moronic ways – just about never managing to wish people on their birthdays. Last year, I didn’t even thank most people who wished me. Maybe some people routinely post ‘happy birthday’ via a super simplified FB prompt. But well, they still did that much and I should have the courtesy to respond.
It’d be tempting to reveal what I actually did for my birthday. Haven’t gathered the courage yet to be much of a good samaritan and engage in some noble acts, so I mingled with half a million european youngsters at the Woodstock 2014 in Poland. It’s one of the world’s largest open air music festivals. Complete with crazy live music, free flowing beer, fire-hose toting Police Vans, ‘free hugs’ tagged young men and women – and an open mud shower. Grab someone and dunk them in wet mud. Repeat. Pretty easy to present it as ‘the most happening birthday party of my life’ in a series of FB picture posts.
But well – and this might seem untrue – according to my recent discoveries, I’m an introvert – often preoccupied in my own world, than too involved in the surroundings. So what did I do? Yeah, I did take the shower, dunked a few people, gave some hugs, raved to some beats. But most interesting of all, I observed some teen-age scoring – of how many girls you dunked. Then figured I’d grown up to be much less spontaneous or freewheeling to attempt or enjoy these games. Some years ago, it might have been easier to overcome the awkwardness or ignore the lurking boyfriend.
Now, what am I doing? Observing that the ‘Free Hug’ sign could become a branded collateral and be distributed freely, or the fact that there are pretty much no sponsor promotions here. Or that the tourism/culture ministry of India should put together super large scale festivals that become popular internationally or at least converge the Indian youth – not around rock music, but something more local. Honey Singh, maybe :). More than a swadeshi thought, maintaining local content is a question of differentiated brand identity. If a Woodstock can have a bunch of Saree-clad polish women at a Hare Krysna stall serving ‘food for peace’, we sure can have representation of other cultures in an essentially Indian fest. Perhaps shifting across stages from Sufi, to Garba, to Bhangra, to Ghoomar, to Ghazal, with some rock and jazz blended – in one large open air venue. Make it Commonwealth types. Magnify SPIC MACAY or college festivals at a Sarkaari level, like the Kumbh mela.
But that’s a logistical nightmare. Indian’s won’t live in tents or queue up for public toilets temporarily installed at such a venue. Parents won’t send their daughters alone. Morality police would be uncomfortable about the free mingling of youth.. and many others will oppose. Or maybe it would work out, if we brand this right.
And there I go. So I was thinking all of this at Woodstock yesterday. Now I wonder if turning 30 happens one fine day – or with every moment when you judge yourself as too old to do/enjoy something. Or in all the times you think differently from how an 18 year old would. Dunking, and scoring free hugs could’ve been enough pre-occupation a few years ago. Not anymore.
Being young sounds positively spirited, and growing up seems more about a pot belly, receding hairline, inability to run, being bogged down by life’s stress or low energy in general. Seldom is the maturing of though process given due credit against youthful recklessness. There’s a time for everything and something awesome about each stage. But we love stereotypes.
It feels odd then, seems like I’m unusual in feeling absolutely comfortable with my age. I could be more logical and argue the pros and cons of the age, or go on to list what I like and dislike about being 30, or about growing up in general. But then, growing up taught me the ability to argue rather strongly from both sides and also the futility of making an argument, as that seldom changes anyone’s preconceived notions or pre-drawn conclusions.
So then, I end this rant with my email signature.
Onelife, it’s happening now!
P.S. By the way, all the pictures are sourced from the web. I knew i’d find them, so didn’t bother clicking.