I turn 30 in less than a month. When I was younger I thought that I would spend my thirtieth birthday sobbing into a pillow and then life would be over. I could not imagine anything worse than entering my thirties.
Here I am, eagerly looking forward to my thirties. So much surer of myself, surer of what I want, stable and calm. I wish I could time travel and go laugh at an arrogant self assured 23 year old me.
The endearing arrogance of youth.
I don’t know when but I decided quite unconsciously to do thirty things I have never done before, before turning thirty. I wanted to break my own boundaries, a test of will in a sense. A lack of time now dictates that I have to change it to thirty things I will do as I turn thirty, before I turn 31.
I grew up in a joint family. My grandfather bought a house from a British man and proceeded to add rooms to it at as the family grew, reproduced and exploded. My grandmother on my mothers side often shakes her head in wonder on how this strange house is still standing, as entire floors, toilets and rooms of all shapes and sizes have been added without the slightest consult from an architect or a structural engineer. Imagine what The Burrow would look like if all the Weaselys lived there, and had their own families for a couple of generations. The difference off course is that my grandfather did not use magic to hold up the house.
So I grew up in a house of 35 people plus cooks, drivers and help of all ages. I was used to noise, I was used to a complete lack of privacy. I could not have asked for anything better, we were 18 cousins and second cousins, and the number doubled in the summer when the aunts came traipsing in from across the country. We put up plays, held fun fetes, invented complicated games that often involved the irate dhobi, Velu (yes, we had an in house Dhobi to wash and iron all our clothes ! ) throwing dirty soapy water on us to chase us away.
When I was twelve we moved into a small flat closer to school and for the first time I discovered a wonderful thing – space. My brother and I had a room with two bunk beds, I had space to put up posters, listen to my own music and had my own wardrobe and I could not have asked for more.
Except that I did, space has a way of owning you and you just cannot get enough. My brother and I fought over our room and once even drew a line across it dividing our respective halves and then realized he could not go to the toilet because the door to the toilet was in my half. Slamming doors and raging tempers lead my parents to hastily convert the small study into a third bedroom. My poor brother, being the younger one was banished to the room ( the cupboard under the stairs of my house) and lived there without complaint till I left for my masters.
I finally had my own room, I marked my territory and proceeded to paint it a violent yellow and red as soon as I joined college. I was going to be an architect after all. Shudder.
My short stint in Auroville, was filled with too many people and in Glasgow I lived in a giant house with 6 other Indians. ( I have material for so many posts there) My room was lovely, the size of a studio apartment, I had a queen sized bed, a three seater sofa, a coffee table , a desk and a wardrobe. I had pictures on the wall and parties in my room for 15-20 people. That’s right the parties were not in my house, but in my room.
In Ahmedabad I was lucky to have some of the nicest people as flat mates, they also make up a majority of my readers (two out of three). Since I thought I was going to be there for only a year, and then every consecutive year, thought it was the last one, I had a very transactional relationship with the house and I did not even buy a flower vase or stick up a post card to make a difference.
Very often I had the house to myself, though it made me uncomfortable at first, I slowly began to enjoy it. I loved waking up to a quiet house and spending an hour with my coffee, reading the paper or just staring into space.
Now would be a good time to mention that I also scare easy. I cannot watch ghost movies, and was terrified while watching Shutter Island. Evertime I was scared, I jumped behind the laptop screen and asked my then flatmate VM to sleep with her door open that night. I have to admit that whenever The Other leaves, I sleep with the tube light on for a couple of days, and sometimes the thought of something scary is enough for the lights to burn bright the whole night.
So the first thing I am doing as part of the the thirty things as I turn thirty is living alone. From a joint family, to a flat that started to get smaller every year as I got bigger, to a dormitory, to a crowded house with too many Indians, to a three person house, to finally living in a large house all by myself. It is a bit of a strain financially, as there is no one to share the cost of the cable or the maid, but I am loving it. The house has a lot of space, I have a reading corner, a writing corner, a lovely kitchen, and I am totally nesting. In the last six months I have not bought new clothes or shoes but spent a lot of money on table mats, cutlery, curtains, cushion covers and even found the perfect matching dust bin. The poor BF almost gave up on me as I spent a gruelling hour searching for well designed pots and pans with proprtionate handles. I have two balconies filled with plants and am soon going to attempt my own kitchen garden.
There is a certain joy in having a nice house, in eating in nice table ware with a matching napkin even if I am eating alone, in making a space special, in making it mine. As I turn 30, I have said boo to my fears, created a home. It is all mine ( landlord lives far away, in another country) and I love it.