My birthdays aren't the same now as they were, say, 10 years ago, and I'm not just talking about the increase in the birthday-candle budget. The guest list has shrunk steadily, sometimes comprising only the names of my husband and children. The loud Bhangra numbers have been replaced by mellower tunes, at most a bit of salsa for a dance towards the end. Party games have been retired in favour of cosy chats with loved ones.
If you could relate to even half of this, lady, I can bet that you've settled nicely into your 30s. The other day, as I took stock of my preferences and peeves, I ended up jotting this list of 30 things that to me indicated that I had truly arrived, mentally and physically, into my 30s. Have you too? Use this checklist to find out!
1) Your hair has begun to gray but you are wise enough to have found a way to camouflage it by now. Quite likely, your hairline has also receded by a centimetre or more but you've figured out the right hairstyle to hide this.
2) You have developed a paunch which you badly want to burn away, but you know by now that whining about it publically is unbecoming. Instead you gracefully choose to speak of it as a symbol of your "beautiful growth as a human being".
3) You know the importance of dark colours (black is best) and flowing fabrics in your life. And if you happen to be somewhat style-conscious, you also know which kinds of stripes look best on you.
4) You're probably popping some pill or the other by now for health reasons; these could range from Sugarfree for weight management to medication for hypothyroidism or some other medical condition or supplements such as iron or calcium.
5) You are considering cornflakes, oats, muesli or daliya as a replacement for one of your meals.
"The scariest thing to think of is not ghosts, thieves or calamities but a call in the middle of the night from your parents who stay far away."
6) You've got a tracksuit, walking shoes, perhaps even a treadmill/cycle all gathering dust right along with your gym membership. You'll dust them all off next week, you've been telling yourself for a long time.
7) You simply cannot think of Justin Bieber as an "eligible bachelor" even though you know he's the heart-throb of millions; for you that role will eternally belong to George Clooney even though you know he's taken.
8) You're paying off a loan, mortgage or EMI and you can't see an end in sight.
9) You no longer want to snorkel in Costa Rica or go snowboarding in Switzerland... your dream destination has changed from an exotic land overseas to a quiet revisit to a place where you spent precious times in your childhood.
10) The scariest thing to think of is not ghosts, thieves or calamities but a call in the middle of the night from your parents who stay far away.
11) It is embarrassing but still delightful in a silly way to find younger boys going gaga over you. In such a case, age is seriously just a number!
12) You have considered supporting a charity, a cause or an NGO.
13) You have revived a long-forgotten interest or hobby and are working towards it with child-like passion.
14) Things which you had always thought of as looking dreadful are now must-haves -- like deep red lipstick, indigo nail paint or neon slippers.
15) Your sex life is happier than ever. By now, the experimenting phase is almost over and you know what you want, from whom you want it and how you want it.
16) You have had at least one dental-filling or root-canal treatment done.
17) "Thank you" and "please" were music to your ears, but now "it's benign" and "normal report" have been added to your list of favourite words and phrases.
18) Your book shelf has at least one self-help bestseller on optimism or inspiration.
19) Your children look at your dresses and ornaments from your schooldays (in photographs) with the wonder usually reserved for rare antiques.
20) You don't recognise most new celebrities except the ones whose parents were once your favourites. For the rest of the crowd, you seek your children's help.
21) You have learnt to take vitriolic comments from others with a pinch of salt - they've become part of the spice of life, like a pickle. You're not so fazed by in-laws, interfering neighbours or corny bosses.
"Marriage and children may be important but nothing is as important as time for yourself - you're on a perpetual hunt for it!"
22) You've finally purged your wardrobe of silly but sentimental treasures that you'd held on to for far too many years.
23) You let your children follow their heart and are ready to fight anyone who comes in their way.
24) Your personal diary has more mini interrogative sentences than simple statements. Why me? What now? How far? Which way? Will they? Won't it? Who next?
25) You catch up on "me-time" past midnight or in the wee hours of the morning - the best time of the day for you.
26) You have developed zero tolerance for street sexual harassers. You're not afraid to glare at them directly, grab their collar or even punch them in the face should matters escalate. You're no longer ok with letting such incidents slide: you want to fix the problem.
27) You're trying to cleanse your life of negative influences, even if that means weeding out people who get you down with their negativity or nagging. Life, you realise, is too short to spend with morons.
28) You feel like reconnecting with old friends who've long vanished from your life. You're realising their importance now and you know that time is running out.
29) You've developed your own style and you don't care whether or not it matches the latest trends.
30) Marriage and children may be important but nothing is as important as time for yourself - you're on a perpetual hunt for it!