The Top Ten Million Things To Hear When You’re 30

I turned 30 last week and the second the clock struck midnight, I transformed into a mature, sensible gentleman who has his life all figured out and has stopped thinking of salads as “culinary depression”. It’s not like I stumbled home at 6 a.m. and spent the day in boxers, surrounded by my closest friends, cake, beer and biryani. Nope, not at all.

Things are supposed to change now because we’ve bought into the idea that 30 is a significant age, and that it is vastly different from 29. And it probably is, if you’re comparing insurance premiums. Even science suggests that decade-changes are when people tend to reflect and take stock and then panic, which is ridiculous because age is just a number and has no bearing on your real life, if you exclude factors like money, health, stability, security and responsibility.

It doesn’t help that there are about a gazillion lifestyle pieces about turning 30. There are more pieces about 30-year-olds than there are actual 30-year-olds, and they all seem to say the same thing i.e. “I was on a tight deadline so here’s some faff about my life experiences disguised as content now go away I’m hungover from last week.”

So if you’re a young guy wondering what arbitrary standards you’re supposed to live by, then worry not, because here’s a list of my favourite pointers, culled from actual ‘THINGS EVERY MAN MUST DO/HAVE BEFORE HE’S 30’ pieces:

Build Something With Your Hands:

This is fun to write, because you know you’re not going to be the one doing it. It’s usually accompanied by some rubbish about how real men used to do things with their hands and we must get back to it because apparently it’s sexy, which explains why so many women are lusting after Ramu Carpenter.

Attempt To Grow A Sweet Moustache:

This is great advice if you’re looking to turn into your father’s passport photo from 1976. When was the last time you saw a young guy with just a moustache – no beard – and thought to yourself, “Hmm, that person seems like fun. I bet he has a cool name like Anoop or Mandar”?

(Beards are kinda overrated as well, and no, I’m not saying this as a bitter man who can’t grow a full beard because of a tiny hairless patch on his neck that continues to stay hostile and deserted, like the No Man’s Land between India and Pakistan.)

Have A Signature Dish:

This is less advice, more necessity, especially if you’ve spent the better part of your 20s ordering takeaway designed to nuke your colon. I’ve always found it strange when guys are actually proud about the fact that they can’t cook and say things like, “Oh once I made Maggi and the house burnt down and now we live in a slum LOL.” Those guys are pretty much on their way to being Norman Bates, minus the charm.

Get Your Heart Broken:

I don’t even see how this is advice. It’s like climate change or AAP leaders calling each other ‘poopyhead’ – it’s bound to happen. It’s pretty much the only skill I’ve carried forward from engineering college. The weird thing is that when your friend breaks up, you’re genuinely concerned but there’s also a part of you that’s thinking, “Oh awesome, now we get to drink like idiots. For our bro.” If that is not a metaphor for hope, then I don’t know what is.

Get A House Or Save For One:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Brb, wiping my tears with property brochures for 18 square feet deluxe apartments in a toilet in Mira Road for 37 crores, plus 15% service charge to enjoy The Spirit Of Mumbai (Supplied By The Tanker Mafia).

Have an answer to the “Do you want kids?” question:

This is important because apparently at this age, women start evaluating you on the basis of your ability to nurture monsters who will bleed your bank account dry, suck all the sleep out of your life and in turn, reward you with a sense of love and responsibility so crippling, you will bow before their needs your entire life because it is considered bad parenting to fake your death and flee to the mountains.

This is just a fraction of the advice out there written for you by people who are not you. Feel free to ignore all of it and go do whatever the hell you want. Remember, nothing can stop you. NOTHING. Except rent. And maybe that EMI. And that client meeting. Remember, age is just a number.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 5th April 2015.)

The Way To A Man’s Heart Is Not Through This Column

Once in a while, as I’m going through the barrage of headlines online (which can all be summed up as “Cretinous Politician Insults Scumbag Politician”, “Powerful Person Corrupted By Power” and “Comedy Nights With Kapil: Because Cross-Dressers Are Hilarious”), I find myself being distracted by the softcore corner of news websites aka the Women and Relationships section. And in case you’re wondering, yes, they’re still talking about what it takes to please and keep a man. (They always seem to miss out on “Learn to straight-drive like Sachin.”)

A quick look through these articles will tell you women that it’s really very simple. All you need to do is lose your belly fat, thigh fat, arm fat, elbow fat, ankle fat and drop a lung or two because those things just make you look bloated when you breathe. Then you need to work on your skin, which may look fine to you, but since men are superior beings who see things in SuperMega HD, you need to treat it with a special purifying extract made from dolphin saliva, which you can buy after clicking the strategically placed banner ad that says HAHA, SUCKERS!

One such article I recently read was about “Compliments That Your Man Needs To Hear”. Ladies, I hope you’re paying attention because someday you may find yourself in an extreme life-or-death situation, like Sandra Bullock in Gravity, and may need to get back to Earth by telling the ISRO chief that his hair looks great.

First up – and this is a suggestion for an actual compliment – “Boy, you can work it!” This is a great thing to say to a guy when you’re his personal trainer and he just deadlifted the reason for his next hernia. But no, this is supposed to a sign of appreciation for his skills in the bedroom. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you need to be prodded by the internet into complimenting your guy’s skills, then he probably cannot “work it” very well. He’s less Ron Jeremy, more Ron Weasley, is what I’m saying. Change this by firing off inspirational lines in bed, like “Glory Glory Man United!” and “Do or do not. There is no try.” (Or yell “Dhoom Macha Le!” Whatever works for you.)

Another suggested compliment is “You’re so freaking hot!” which is perfect if you’re like sixteen and like OMG totes whatevs amirite *duckface* There’s more helpful advice about how you can make a man feel wanted by batting your eyelids and – this is true – asking him to help you with bank work. This is also what Manmohan Singh did with Raghuram Rajan.

This is just one of a million helpful articles out there, along with others like “How To Stop Your Guy From Being Needy” followed immediately by “How To Make Him Pay Attention To You”, at which point a normal person’s brain cells will start signing suicide pacts.

I don’t know who reads this stuff, because anyone who has ever known a man should be aware that we’re not complex creatures. All a woman needs to do to get a man’s attention and turn him on is to show up. That’s pretty much it. Going through all these tips and tricks is like trying to compose a symphony for your dog. Sure, he might acknowledge it and even wag his tail, but really, he’s just glad to see you and even if you left, he’d be perfectly happy just licking his own – yeah ok, I didn’t think that analogy through.

On the other end of the spectrum are men’s magazines, which usually fall into two categories. There’s the upmarket variant which says things like, “Woo her with understated elegance, seen here in these cufflinks that cost two crores because the Maharaja of Punjab once swallowed them as a baby.” And there are the less formal ones, written by guys who attended Bro University and got a Master’s in Bro Studies, with a Diploma in Dude, bro. Their pages reek of gunpowder and offer practical relationship advice like “KILL YOUR FEELINGS WITH THIS SHOTGUN!” and “WHO NEEDS LUBE REAL MEN USE ENGINE OIL!” (They’re packed with so much testosterone that I once grew a beard and killed three cheetahs just by looking at the cover.)

So clearly – and I don’t mean to sound juvenile here – the boys are winning. There’s only one thing you women can do to even the contest – turn to the man nearest to you and ask for advice. Remember to compliment him first.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 24th Nov 2013.)