Men usually brood over love, not age. But at the turn of every decade in a man's life, there comes a moment when he has to do a status check--where he has come from, where he is going and where he wants to go. I am at one such turn now, and as for many, it is one heck of a turn! I had a similar feeling when I turned 20 and will probably have a similar feeling (if and) when I turn 40. Fifty is too far away.
When I was a kid, I saw thirty-year-old men as men who raised a family, who worked at Satyam Computers, who almost have reached some kind of a "settlement" in life and who behaved like real grown up men. I saw 30 as a milestone, by which time I aspired to be a hero that everybody looked up to. I created my own Bollywood in my head, where 30-yr-old men were actually heroes. There were several things I wanted to do, and roles I wanted to don. I wanted to be a cricketer. A table-tennis champion. A champion swimmer. An IAS officer. That was all that I knew back then. But I did not realize that by the time I was dreaming about these things, it was already too late. I should have started dreaming very early.
Then when I was in college, I wanted to be a high-flier by the time I turned 30. I wanted to be an executive in a large company, making decisions and commanding respect. I dreamt about becoming famous for being a great leader in the making, and then eventually, I wanted to get into politics, not to make more money, but to do some good to the country. One day, I met a guy who was just over four years older than I was. He just then returned to India after he had completed his masters in civil engineering in the US. He was working as a freelancer in Hyderabad, and made sure he wrote at least one article per month in Telugu. When he asked me what my interests were, I fiddled with ideas for a little bit and then told him that I was interested politics. He immediately rubbished the idea saying, "It is not a career option at this point in your life". I was almost devastated. Perhaps I was only dreaming all the time. I never had any concrete plan. I was only taught to study hard and "become something in life". No body told me what that "something" was.
I have done a few things that a "typical" Indian male would not have done before turning 30. For example, I have visited five different countries (apart from India and the US, of course). I obtained a full time MBA in the US, to what avail is a different question. I spent half of my third decade in India and the other half in the US. I went scuba diving, ran 8 kilometers (Yay!), played 'competitive' cricket for a full season in all whites, published photographs, wrote essays--including a short commentary on the Mahabharata, read and wrote philosophy, challenged organized religion, became (almost) agnostic, developed interest in classical music and started learning western flute, learned some Spanish, drew a self sketch, met my idol Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and ... remained single!
Having said that, how different am I from the others? How different could I have been? In the grand scheme of things, 99.99% of us are just as mediocre as a pretzel stick. The taste is just the external seasoning, but the core just remains the same--filling, but dull and useless. I have assumed the mantle of the emperor of the kingdom of Mediocrity. Quoting Salieri from Amadeus, "I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." All those who are mad at being called mediocre by me, screw you! You are just as mediocre as you can be... unless you are in the illusion of belonging to that remaining 0.01%. I would rather let the world decide if I am mediocre or not.
However, in these mediocre thirty years, I have nourished an ardent desire to do good to the society and to my country. Not the spiritual way, and definitely not the religious way. And my desire is still as strong as ever. I wish to focus my energies on that front in the next decade. I also want to write a book, travel more countries and visit Manasarovar.
Edit - 12/10/2013: Holy cow! This blog has been sitting in my drafts for the last one year! I turned 31. Nothing much has changed, yet. This again proves how mediocre I am. I have seen a little more in life in the last one year, but nothing that can significantly tell me apart. I am still the same (just lost a little more hair), and I am glad about that (not changing much). One great lesson I have learned this past year is, happiness is a choice. Nobody is perfect, and that applies to me as well. I will still strive for perfection, because that will at least make me good.
And with that, here's to yet another exhilarating year! Bravo!