You know you’re getting older when your face reveals last night’s drinking binge, when you are no longer disturbed by the fluorescent lights in the kitchen, when the street children at traffic lights switch from calling you didi to aunty and when you-know-who, a strident anti-hair colour campaigner since she started greying prematurely in her 20s, thinks: Maybe I should colour my hair before I turn forty in Spain.
Yeah, yeah, I know forty is just a number that the skincare industry uses to make you buy a whole different—and pricier—set of products. Logically, there’s nothing to worry about. The husband will soon be a sexy 45 and, like him, the three Bollywood Khans too are a full five years older than me.
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Besides, my fortieth birthday next month lies somewhere between the dates on which Uma Thurman and Padma Lakshmi turn forty. It’s been 7 years since Thurman played Bride and kicked butt clad in all yellow, but she could easily do the same today. Clearly, you don’t always have to relinquish goddess status when you hit forty. And while I’m thinking positive, I have fewer lines on my face than Matt Damon who also turns forty this year. It could be worse, I suppose. I could be forty and still a virgin, like so many people in this country.
Padma Lakshmi: 40’s not the end of sexy. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/AFP
Some of us have the ability to turn birthdays into an opportunity to make money or do something worthwhile. Like writing a book titled What You Don’t Know about Turning 40. Or launching a website called Women at Forty. Closer home, a friend on Twitter (@suddentwilight) who will celebrate her thirtieth birthday around the same time as I hit my landmark, is planning to sell a photograph a day through her birthday month and donate the money to charity.
I wish I had a Big Idea for my Big Birthday. For a brief while I contemplated quitting my job, and recording my attempts to try something new every week. But just the idea of trying 52 new things was more exhausting than coming to work every morning. The only plan I’ve come up with thus far is that I want to be far away from India when I turn forty.
I know it’s the ultimate cliché but these days I’m convinced it’s that now-or-never time to get my life in order. Forty is halfway to 80. And somewhere along the line, if you live in India, you hit that age when people frown at you if you giggle loudly and restaurant waiters choose only to address the younger people on your table. Worse, it’s also that age when you start waking up early.
For those of you who are older than forty and can’t understand why I’m whining, I can only quote Victor Hugo: “Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.”
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