21 Signs That You Have Turned 30

Turning 30 seems to be the new turning point for family and career and social media seems to agree, with a host of articles and listicles on Things To Do Before You Turn 30, Things To Do After You Turn 30, Things That Could Be Thrown At You For Turning 30… the possibilities are endless. This got me thinking to the first time I realized I am turning older and quickly realized that there is no one defining moment that decides that you are older, but it comes in small and consistent messages.

Here are 21 signs to look out for that you might be growing older and high time you embrace it.

1.When your nostalgia is 20 years old and includes memories of Gold Spot and black and white TV sets.

2.When you cannot wrap your head around emerging styles and spikes on the hair.

3.When all your selfies include your kids.

4.When neighborhood kids start calling you aunty or uncle without invitation.

5.When you catch yourself reprimanding neighbourhood kids for playing cricket.

6.When your relationship status with antacids changes from once in a while to together for the long run.

7.When you don’t think twice before cleaning drain hair which you found disgusting as a teen.

8.When the tables turn and you start nagging others for cleaning the house.

9.When exercising means walking around the block four times.

10.When you start picking faults with DDLJ and start thinking, in which age did they live in.

11.When you can no longer safely call others aunty or uncle unless they are really old or don’t really care.

12.When you only vaguely remember Akshay Kumar with body hair.

13.When you had happily forgotten all about Algebra but now its time to teach the kids.

14.When you can no longer tell the irritating door to door sales people, ‘Mummy nahi hai‘.

15.When you can’t recollect the last time you received money from your Grandparents.

16.When house parties can only start after putting the kids to bed.

17.When you start gifting friends useful gifts instead of the Rs.100 laughing Buddha.

18.When your wardrobe needs constant updates to accommodate changing waistlines.

19.When you can count on your fingers the number of single friends you have.

20.When you suddenly get a spate of wedding invitations from the last of the single friends before they enter the glorious third decade.

21.When you start making friends depending on whether they have kids and can have play dates with your kid.

Author’s Note: This post is by no means indicative of the author’s age or of her suddenly realizing that she is reaching any sort of age milestone. Readers are requested to refrain from speculating about the author’s age. This post was originally published at Womensweb.in here.

Culture shocks for an Indian traveling to the US

America is a land of dreams and for some Indians it is their dream and only goal in life. The US has many great things to offer but as an individual coming from an entirely different culture there are many aspects about the culture that can strike a first time traveler. For me the distinct culture differences I percieved were not the short dresses (TV had sufficiently prepared me for this) or public display of affection that Indians usually assign as something western but in reality I have seen more PDA on a park bench in Nagpur than anywhere in the US.

A great guide for life in the America’s is a book called Inscrutable Americans that lists the maladies a naive Indian cooks up on his visit to the US. Some exchanges with ‘the natives’ in the US are embarrassing and awkward for example when trying to return a hug from an American friend (I am quite the non hugging type) which leads to several dives in the wrong direction and finally both parties settling for a handshake.

America is fun, interesting, dynamic and a place where many cultures merge. I have found more types of cuisines, cultures, races, ethnicity in this one country than any other country I have been to. Hence America is much more inclusive as it is said to be the land of immigrants. But America is not all roses and peaches there are negatives and positives like any other country and is guaranteed to have its share of culture shocks.

1. Public transport is very well connected in the cities but is very spotty in the suburbs. Hence getting from place A to B will require some intensive planning however short the distance if one does not own a car in the US or can’t drive (rented cars however are easy to hire). Calling a cab service is the other option but they are expensive.

2. Shops close by 8:30 pm and restaurants close pretty early too depending on which city you live in. The only happening area in a city after 8pm is downtown which is very different to cities (read metros) in India where one might get stuck in a traffic jam at 11pm.

3. Cheese burger is not a vegetarian burger with cheese. It is burger with beef patty most Americans can’t really comprehend a vegetarian burger save for some specialty restaurants, also waitresses who have experience with this faux pas will remind Indian customers and mention this repeatedly that there is beef in this burger!

4. People have dinner by 6pm and you might even get used to going to sleep by 9. In Mumbai 9 pm is Kaun Banega Crorepati (Indian version of Who wants to be a Millionaire) time.

5. America is not just its big cities but is made up of smaller towns too where life moves at its own pace. So if going to America is your life long dream, this is something you should keep in mind. America is not all big and bustling cities. It is smaller towns too were the only entertainment is a dinner theater in a diner and one street called Main street where everything happens.

6. If you cant drive or order online you might as well go back to India. America is all about driving and having a car so if you can’t drive and don’t live in a city you might soon get depressed enough to start packing but remember to save money for the cab service till the airport.

7. People smile at you and make small talk in elevators (that’s what Americans call a lift) all across America, so for someone who is new to this, keeping small talk ready for the next stranger becomes a task in itself. People smile and nod on the streets too.In India you can stare at the other person on the street till the person makes eye contact after which you look the other way and find someone else to stare at. But for all the friendliness it is still difficult to make friends in the US.

8. They have seen Indians before so you are not exotic and might not just find dates just because of your ethnicity. Even then you will find people who relate India to bindi (dot), sarees, hot, curry, yoga and Bollywood only.

9. In the U.S people are very particular about safety, so no dangling from bus doors and riding on the foot board of a train. Your days of adventure on the commute are over.People in the US need a firework permit to light fireworks for festivals.

10. The sky is so BIG in the U.S!! The horizon in the US seems vast and is a startling difference in for someone who has lived near the equator all her life.

11. Driving in the US with its serpentine interstates and automatic vehicles is boring for a person who learned to drive in India as there are no cows to dodge, no rickshaws to honk at and knowing traffic rules in not optional.

12. 50% of the commercials on TV are for prescription drugs and they are required to list the side effects (includes death) which takes up half the ad and usually has a video of a dog and his master playing. Though Indians are not used to see ads for drugs we can easily buy them over the counter with or without prescription which is not allowed in the US.

13. Getting a Doctors appointment in some cities in the US is next to impossible. We tried for a Doctors appointment in Pennsylvania but most were booked for more than 3 months for new patients. Finally we ended up traveling to the next state where we got an opening for an appointment. The inference is that access to medical attention seems to be similar in India as well as the US for entirely different reasons.

14. Guns are an important part of American culture hence owning a gun is common place and so are news articles of a lone gun man shooting someone or ‘some’ people.

15. Winter and snow can get very depressing after the initial novelty wears of as the sky looks grey and the earth turns white but spring and autumn are an entirely different story all together as it becomes a riot of colors.

16. Portion sizes are HUGE! The first time I ordered a Pepsi I felt I had to be extra careful with the cup least someone drowns in it? Another time I ordered a pork chop at a diner and got a chunk of meat as big as my thigh, I considered taking a cue from tigers and burying the meat and eating it for an entire month.

17. In India trains are the cheapest and most reliable mode of transport and one can scale the entire country traveling only in trains. This is not the case in the United States, trains can be expensive sometimes more expensive than flights. Also trains have limited sleeping coaches/berths and most of the train would have sitting option only.

18. Healthcare, even basic healthcare is costly for people without insurance (Obamacare might make some difference to this). Free or charitable programs are very few hence poor people face a number of problems to avail healthcare options. Some enroll themselves in drug trials to get a shot at medical care. Emergency care though is mandatory and free for all residents in the US.

19. Yes, there are homeless people and poor people in the US too, though lesser in number compared to India. I got to work and interact with some people at a rehabilitation center where I volunteered. It was a very enriching experience and it gave me an added perspective of the US and some underlying problems which is not all glitz and glamour.

20. The US is one of the only 4 countries along with Papa new Guinea where maternity leave is not mandatory given to women. This along with having to wax legs at home because beauty parlors are expensive are just some of the problems women face in the US.

I had a great time traveling in the US and I was lucky to see many parts of this amazing country. Some of this is written as an attempt at wry humor and some of it is of course true. Anyone traveling to a new culture is bound to have some culture shocks whether it is Indians visiting the US or Americans visiting India. If you have some of your experiences to add, please do so in the comments. I also believe that such culture shocks are what make travelling to a new country exciting.

What I Miss Most When I Travel – My cup of coffee

The taste of coffee is very personal and unique to each individual, it depends entirely on which family you were born to and what your tastes are like. In India coffee is synonymous with South India with most North Indians being inducted to coffee drinking only after spending a few years in cities like Bangalore or Chennai. It is said that the best way to disrupt the daily life of a South Indian family is to hide the coffee filter. South India prefers the chicory blend coffee which is part of the legacy that the French brought to this land below the Vindhyas.

Coffee Tray with Steaming Chicory Cofee
Coffee Tray with Steaming Chicory Coffee

I was born in a part of South India where the reach of coffee was not as strong and is populated mostly by tea drinkers who could say. ‘chetta oru chaya’ with flourish. But the anomaly here was my mother whose tastes were slightly more sophisticated than the rest. She is a coffee addict in a land of tea drinkers. The ritual of filter and chicory coffee is hence very familiar to me though we kids were given only milk which I despised for the entirety of my childhood. Occasionally my mother would add a tiny bit of coffee to the milk and make the white liquid palatable. Coffee like alcohol was for the adults only.

Filter Coffee
Filter Coffee

The problem with being the only coffee drinker in the midst of chaya drinking folks was that my mother’s favourite brew in the right proportions of decoction, milk and sugar was hard to come by especially when visiting relatives. Coffee excites interest as an exotic drink much like the story of the introduction of coffee to the Indian sub-continent. Coffee was sneaked into the country by a sufi saint Baba Budan in the form of seven seeds strapped to his chest on his return journey from Yemen to the hills of Chikmanglur.

Different samples of tea and coffee
Different samples of tea and coffee

Those seven seeds lead to India becoming one of the major exporters of coffee in Asia. Tata coffee is one of the exporters of coffee beans to Starbucks, hence if you order a tall cappuccino at Starbucks in the United States, chances are that you might be drinking coffee made from beans produced at Plantation Trails in Coorg. We had the opportunity wake up to freshly roasted coffee at one the Tata Coffee bungalows and we realized how a few beans from this plantation has the power of setting the tone of someone’s day from half way across the world.

A lady roasting coffee in Bali
A lady roasting coffee in Bali

Coffee is prepared in different ways all over the world. Cappuccino is one part coffee and two part milk, an expresso is black coffee and crema and an Affogato is coffee plus vanilla ice cream. Irish coffee I am told involves a dash of alcohol and coffee that you get high up on the Swizz Alps is black coffee with rum which I have had the opportunity to indulge in. Every different continent that we have visited, the one thing that I yearn for most is ‘my familiar cup of coffee’. Though each country has a unique preparation and taste, the cup I want to wake up with can only be found at home.

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A Civet Cat in Bali

 

The most expensive coffee in the world is Kopi Luwak which comes from Indonesia. Luwak is a small cat like animal called a civet which is found in the forests of Indonesia. The civet eats the coffee berries and eventually poops out the coffee beans. The civet eats only the best coffee berries and the beans undergo some processing in the gut of the civet which makes it an expensive and elusive coffee. On our last trip to Bali we made sure that we brought home a small sample of this expensive coffee as a gift for my mother. Though she decided that the Indian chicory blend of coffee with two spoons of sugar and a dash of milk was the best concoction ever and I agree.

This is a performance by one of my favorite actors, performed at one of my new found favorite places in Mumbai- An Ode to The Death of Filter Coffee

Things I have Lost While Traveling

This article which is a result of me losing many things while shifting and packing and suffering some minor heart breaks. It was featured on Pink Pangea which is an international magazine for women travelers. Read on….

Traveling requires that you carry a small part of yourself in your bag. Your clothes, your toothbrush, comb, favorite sweater, that cute pair of earrings, shoes and the list can go on. If you are a man maybe you might have a shorter list and if you a traveling family like mine then that list would include your baby’s favorite toy, night time story book, diapers, sippy cup and whole lot of other things that you can fit inside the airline mandated 22 kgs.

These lists of things hold more meaning when you are shifting between cities or countries after having lived there for a while. You will be hard pressed to decide what you should take and what you should leave behind unless you are wealthy enough to ship your stuff back and forth every time. It is the nature of the capitalistic human to collect things in whatever space we occupy. The amount of the things collected only come to light when it is time to move again. Read more….