mid-day's 39th anniversary: 39 things to do before you turn 39
If you don't have a before-I-am-40 bucket list, we have one for you. Now go, and get the ball rolling
Byline: Aastha Atray Banan, Benita Fernando, Jane Borges, Kusumita Das, Anju Maskeri and Gitanjali Chandrasekharan
#01 Find your fragrance
Caroluine de Maigret's advice to feel Parisian no matter where you are was to "find your perfume before you turn 30. Wear it for the next thirty years." We shall relax the rule of finding your signature scent for hardworking Mumbaikars by a decade. While there are several options available in the city where you can choose from classics and contemporary international fragrances, we suggest you try the indie, homegrown labels. Better still, craft your own perfume by participating in a workshop. These sessions break it down for you, note by note, until you create a fragrance that is uniquely you.
HOW TO DO IT: Sign up for workshops by All Good Scents and Bombay Perfumery.
#02 Own a masterpiece
Leave behind kitschy prints that dominated your 20s. You can now afford something more authentic. There are several ways to get hold of a valuable, aesthetic piece of art, right from prints of photographs and sculptures to folk art. Make sure you learn more about the artist behind the work, and the work itself. What you will also have to figure is how to maintain the work, given the city's weather.
HOW TO DO IT: Check with the city's galleries, online stores of international museums, such as The Met and the NYPL, and art fairs held for folk and tribal art, such as the annual Paramparik Karigar exhibition.
#03 Bid for what you love
For once, get hammered. And we mean, at an auction. The thrill of bidding is like no other. You learn to bid, take a few risks, and maybe even let go of something you had your eye on for a while — but that's much like life, isn't it? For the collector in all of us, there are auctions for watches, comics, vintage books, jewellery, furniture and even maps.
HOW TO DO IT: Several sales by leading auction houses, such as Christie's and Sotheby's, are held through the year in Mumbai. Don't want to leave your home? Sign up for online auctions, like AstaGuru's.
#04 Get a made-to-measure suit
Splurge on yourself and make this decade the year for the suit that turns heads. A well-fitted three-piece is de rigeur before you hit 40. Start from scratch, if you have to, and find expert advice on the suit that suits you. Patterns or solid colours, there are options available, but definitely go for one that you can enjoy wearing in muggy Mumbai.
HOW TO DO IT: Visit Raymond's, SS Homme, Camessi or the famed Catholic tailors of Bandra and Malad.
#05 Learn about your poison
Assuming that you have figured your go-to alcohol by now, it's best to take it a step further and get to know it better. Wine lovers, know the difference between a Cabernet and a Merlot; beer folk, do you know what makes Mumbai's craft beers taste the way they do? Whiskey lovers should know which Indian-made whiskey is giving the Scots a run for their money.
HOW TO DO IT: Pubs host alcohol tastings routinely. Look out for wine festivals. Or, if you are in the mood for it, drive down to Nashik's many vineyards.
#06 Learn to man the bar
A guest at a bartending workshop at Hoppipola. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
So, you take pride in your knowledge of alcohol and pouring spiffy drinks at parties? Then why not get behind the bar for a whole day? Restobars are offering the opportunity to try your hand at bartending. Here, you'll learn to build your drinks and take orders, all the while chatting with patrons and fielding recommendations.
WHERE TO GO: CALL Hoppipola on 7625073615. Drink Barmen & Academy in Bandra West also offers one-day hobby workshops on bartending. Call: 7506506757
#07 Watch a cricket match, live
Living in a city that has given the world a wealth of cricket talent, it only behoves us to watch at least one live cricket match — preferably a one-day. At the heart of the island city is the Wankhede Stadium, one of the most famous in the world. And, after we lifted the World Cup here in 2011, Wankhede etched its name in cricketing history. If the commute to SoBo is too much, the DY Patil Stadium in Nerul is an alternative. At a sprawling 55,000 capacity stadium, you get to experience pure cricketing magic.
#08 Pub crawl, while the night is young
While lingering drinks, slow dinners and good conversation are a staple in your 30s, there will be days when you feel like letting your hair down. If you didn't make the best use of the previous decade, here is probably your last chance. And, why not mix old world with a bit of the new? Map out a pub crawl that can start from one end of the city all the way to the other.
HOW TO DO IT: The city boasts of several watering holes, right from taprooms, such as Gateway, to authentic dives, like Baroke in Mumbai Central and Yacht in Bandra.
#09 Go on a social media detox
Remember when you had time to spare after work, and how you'd use it to make real connections — like catching-up with friends over dinner or playing football in the neighbourhood park? While we can't help blame the times that we live in, there is definitely scope for course correction. We suggest you take up a 30-day detox challenge and use your phones for "calls and SMS only". If you are socially active on the web, it would be best to forewarn friends, lest they get worried by your absence. Take the time off to re-align your life. You can probably start with spending more time with family, or simply go on a long, unplanned holiday with your favourite gang.
HOW TO DO IT: Uninstall all social media apps
#10 Switch to an eco-friendly diet
If you are struggling to live and eat right, and are troubled by low immunity, it's time you opt for a healthier lifestyle. While there are a million fad diets and exercise routines to follow, veganism is fast catching up as the most popular. The vegan diet excludes meat, fish, eggs or dairy, and is said to aid gut health. Plus, it leaves the lowest carbon footprint on the planet. To get started, you could probably work with a vegan health coach, who will chalk out a broad plan for you, in sync with your lifestyle, body, preferences and goals. You could also join healthy holiday programmes like those organised by Health Nut, which involve short customised getaways with bigger groups, to help encourage you to make the switch.
HOW TO DO IT: Log on to healthnut.in
#11 Ditch the fear of the bikini
Does your bikini come out of the closet only when you are booking tickets to Goa? Well, we think your bathing suit needs a bit of attention even while you are in Mumbai. And, if you think you have an non-bikini body, shake it off. After all, the 30s are about caring two hoots.
HOW TO DO IT: Take a dip at Sun-n-Sand and Sea Princess in Juhu or follow Insta accounts of women who make the bikini rock without a supermodel body. Check out @rotalks or @natashanoel001
#12 Travel from South to North, by local
Considering how Mumbai's trains have been immortalised on screen and in literature, it is only fair that you get to know the beauty of this city, from end to end. The three railway lines, starting from Churchgate and CSMT, are calling out to you. Choose days and times of the day when the trains are a breeze. This city needs all the love it can get.
HOW TO DO IT: Buy a return ticket from end to end, which will last 24 hours, from any station.
#13 Freeze your eggs
Dr Hrishikesh Pai, IVF specialist at Lilavati Hospital, says the ideal age for a woman to freeze her eggs is before 35. "If you are below 30, do a test for the Anti-Mullerian Horrmone (AMH). If the count is more than 2.5, do a repeat every three years. Once you cross the age of 35, freeze your eggs, irrespective of AMH levels," he adds. As age advances, more eggs need to be extracted for a better chance of pregnancy. But, chances of having a child are still not 100 per cent. It equals the chance you had at the age when the eggs were extracted. The procedure costs R1,35,000 + R60,000 for treating the eggs. In the subsequent years, charges amount to R30,000 for every six months of storage.
HOW TO DO IT: Connect with the IVF centre at Lilavati Hospital or any reputable city hospital
#14 Ace wearing a saree or dhoti
The saree is seeing a revival, which unfortunately, the dhoti isn't, but we think there is something adventurous in dressing indigenous and going about your daily tasks. If you still haven't learnt how to tie the yards, let 39 be your deadline. There's nothing like the subtle confidence of wearing what your grandmother wore whether she was cooking, sleeping or taking the local. To bring in the millennial swag, opt for modern prints or contrast cholis.
HOW TO DO IT: These are available across the city. Your neighbourhood parlourwali can help, too. And for the lazy, there is YouTube. We especially like Vithya Nair's 10-minute-saree draping video. She's an Indian origin make-up artiste from London, and brings quirky anecdotes into her tutorials.
#15 Perform live
Till a few years ago, musicians had a right of stage, but ever since the stand-up comedy and open mic trend took over, anyone can get a taste of the spotlight. You just need to up your confidence quotient and not be afraid of stray hecklers. You can sing a song, recite a poem, test your stand-up routine, or even dance. One of our awesome saucy '39 people you need to know under 39' listmakers, Sumukhi Suresh, also started her career at an open mic. So, come on, don't be afraid. You can be famous too.
WHAT TO DO: Though multiple open-mics are held in the city, those of note include the ones at The Hive, The Habitat and Prithvi Cafe.
#16 Be a writer for the visually challenged
This will make you feel all warm inside. Mumbai's blind students struggle every year to find a writer who will assist them during board exams. Regardless of age, anyone who can read and write can volunteer. However, writers are usually allotted in accordance with their area of expertise. For instance, an arts student cannot write a commerce paper.
HOW TO DO IT: Contact the Xavier's Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged.
CALL: 022 22623298
#17 Scale state's highest peak
Up for a perilous challenge? Go conquer Maharashtra's highest peak, Kalsubai, at 5,400 feet above sea level. While climbing this peak is not difficult from a technical point of view, the walk is long and endless. To plan a trek here, it is advisable to make an overnight trip and start early in the morning. Bari is the base village and villagers here offer rustic home-stay options and simple meals at reasonable rates. It is, however, best to tag along with a guide, who not only knows the route, but is also experienced in handling emergencies. At the summit is a small temple of Kalsubai, and the spectacular view from the top will make you forget the exhausting journey.
HOW TO DO IT: Log in to jumpstartoutdoors.com (R3,200 per person including transport, food, accommodation)
#18 Learn to sail
The advantage of living by the sea is that you can dream of taking it on some day. Sailing makes this possible. What makes the sport viable is that the basics can be learnt in a week or over a number of sessions. Sailing is all about getting to grips with sitting in the right place, steering, changing direction and trimming the sails. As you progress, you will learn to do these more quickly and efficiently. And, such is the nature of the sport that the learning never ends. If you gain the much-needed confidence, you can also choose to travel with sailing clubs or participate in national championships.
HOW TO DO IT: Sailing School India, Colaba Workshop building, Colaba.
#19 Go stargazing
There's something magical about being able to look up at the night sky and indulge in the oldest pastime ever. Of course, for us in Mumbai, this usually means staring into LED bulbs. However, less than 70 km from here is Vangani where the sky is clear. Though the monsoon ends in September, it's not until November that you will be able to enjoy comfortable sky observation. If you want to learn some more, Khagol Mandal conducts regular courses in astronomy at its Sion headquarters. For just R1,500, you get to sign up for an entire course of 30 hours. Plus, by the time November rolls in, you'll be ready for the practicals, which they conduct at Vangani.
HOW TO DO IT: Khagol Mandal's Milind Kale is available on 986910777
#20 Feel the chemistry offline
For those who've grown up in the pre-Tinder era, being inundated with swipes and matches is daunting, especially if you are old school about finding love. But, all is not lost yet, and there is hope of finding love outside of a screen. Those willing to go the extra mile could register with dating community Footloose No More, which organises fun, safe and interactive events, where singles can meet other singles. There is also Life of Line (LoL), which organises speed-dating events, where you get to meet at least eight eligible singles of your age for eight minutes each.
HOW TO DO IT: Register with footloosenomore.com and lifeofline.com
#21 Farm from your balcony
Bandra-based urban farmer Ansoo Gupta started her terrace garden before she turned 39. Because it's a labour of love, you are that much more aware of what it means to go pesticide-free and understand nature's temperaments. You may not be able to go completely self-sufficient by growing food in your modest balcony, but if Gupta can work wonders, so can you. Try setting up a herb garden, or, if you are feeling more adventurous, then grow beans, tomato, pumpkin, and bitter gourd. Enough to get your sambhar cooking.
HOW TO DO IT: Sign up for workshops by Ansoo Gupta and Green Souls.
#22 Swim like a fish
Nearly in your 40s and still terrified of the water? There's more than one reason to finally take the plunge. While most adults think it's too late to put themselves to the test, the truth is that the biggest challenge to learning how to swim is psychological. But the benefits of swimming are way too many. Research has proven that since swimming makes you buoyant and supports your weight, spine and muscles, it helps your arthritic joints. It also builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness. It's just the kind of positive routine you need as you gain years.
HOW TO DO IT: Log into michaelphelpsswimming.in
#23 Learn how to save a life
It's known that the chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest increases significantly, by more than double, when cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is started early. And, considering that the risk of heart disease has gone up manifold due to unhealthy lifestyles, long working hours, and increasing stress, it's time we learn CPR. In Mumbai, Lifesupporters Institute of Health Sciences, a registered non-profit, offers a variety of emergency and critical care courses, imparted as per international standards. For those who want to pursue this professionally, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences offers a post-graduate diploma in emergency medical services.
HOW TO DO IT: Log in to lifesupporters.in for details
#24 Learn to do the headstand
It's the one yoga asana that everybody likes flaunting on Instagram, including celebrities. For us, it's about letting go of the fear of the upside down. Though YouTube is littered with videos that deconstruct the pose step by step, we recommend you do yoga for a few months before you attempt it. Make sure you find a certified teacher to guide you.
HOW TO DO IT: Join a yoga class. We recommend Cindy Jourdain's Beyond, a Bandra studio with special classes to help with headstands, or The Yoga Institute in Santacruz, the original and affordable yoga outpost.
#25 Buy a house
Make a distinction between buying a house and investing in real estate, says Nisreen Mamaji, CSP of the Versova-based financial advisors Money Works. If you are planning to buy a house, buying one in Mumbai for investment alone is no longer worth the while, she thinks. Ask yourself where you see yourself eventually settling down, and if you have friends or family in that city or town. There are schemes that let you invest in real estate as you would in mutual funds. However, if you want to buy a house, the right time is anytime after your first pay cheque arrives. But, in your 30s, surplus income will be a bit more, helping you cover EMIs easily.
#26 Speak a new language
While some claim that language learning gets difficult with age, we think the 30s is the best time to do so. Not only are you in better financial control and can invest in a good language course, by then, you also know which language you want to learn and why. Be it for business or travel, speaking a language always proves to be an asset. If you are someone who is fascinated with the European Union, there are a range of courses for French, Spanish and German in the city. For those who want to understand the complexity of Sanskrit texts, and the poetic charm of Urdu, regional certificate courses are also on offer.
HOW TO DO IT: Register with hindustaniprachar sabha.org for Urdu classes or cambridgeinstitute.co.in for foreign languages
#27 Dare to eat the unthinkable
The thought of eating creepy crawlies can make you squeamish. But remember that scores of people around the world eat bugs and ants. So, summon up the courage and dig into treats you've never eaten before. The city offers ample options. At Lower Parel's Xico, you are served protein-loaded chapulines or grasshoppers, either roasted or stuffed in quesadillas. Assamese home chef Gitika Saikia offers red ant eggs and silkworm pupae at her pop-ups. Or try the blood sausages at Imbiss (Bandra and Colaba). Even more adventurous? Taste the bakra mundi (goat head) at Mohammed Ali Road's famous joints.
#28 Learn slacklining
Various studies over the years have stressed the importance of building the core muscles. Slacklining not only helps build stronger abs, and makes you look toned, it also provides your body better stability and balance — qualities you will be grateful for. Make slacklining sessions a regular feature in your routine. It refers to balancing and walking on a flat webbing called a slackline. It's different from a tightrope in the material that is used. Samar Farooqui, a pioneer of the sport in Mumbai, says that it's not just your body that learns to balance but also your mind.
HOW TO DO IT: Every Sunday, meet ups are held between 7.30 am and 10.30 am at Juhu's Pushpa Narsee Park (barring the rains, which makes the place muddy).
#29 Secure a surrogate gymkhana membership
It's really not possible for everyone to have a gymkhana membership. You need moolah and time, because the waitlist could be as long as two years. Those in the know (members) say that all clubs are full, so entry into the hallowed environs might only be possible if you make friends with someone who has a pass to the desired land. This writer has been to the Cricket Club of India and enjoyed sitting in the lawns, and watching the sea while biting into crispy chicken at Otters Club after a swim. Plus, you always stand the chance to spot a celebrity.
#30 Be a citizen reporter
It's no longer cool to be insular. Even Sonam Kapoor has an opinion on how this government is running the country, and so should you. Be aware of your surroundings and issues that plague it. Be the first to call out the BMC for an open manhole or the railways for a leaking train roof. It's the taxpayers' money they are spending, and social media is the perfect place to 'report' misdoings.
HOW TO DO IT: Major newspapers have a citizen journalism section on their websites, and there are also portals like Citizen Matters, which focus on crowd-sourced journalism. And then there is Twitter.
#31 Chop your hair
The best thing about the 30s is that you really don't care what anyone thinks of how you look. So, in case you are done with conventional diktats of beauty, including long hair, go super short. It could be a bob, the boyish pixie, a bowl cut or just a bald head. Once you've got the short hair, you will have fun dressing it up, too. We say this from experience. We've even managed to pull it off with a saree.
HOW TO DO IT: Mad O Wat at Pali Naka and Smashh in Khar West are our favourites.
#32 Camp amidst the wild
Going on nature trails and wildlife spotting trips at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SNGP) are now commonplace. But, nothing comes close to experiencing the wild in the pitch of the night. While SGNP doesn't offer night safaris, experts at the Nature Information Centre (NIC) organise overnight camps, which include tailor-made nature appreciation courses like stargazing, bird watching and nature trails. If you are lucky, you will spot wild animals, especially the spotted deer, who move in groups. The famous leopards remain elusive to most, says an expert. But, you will catch a sniff of their scent, and that's enough for an adrenaline rush.
WHAT TO DO: Register with sgnp.maharashtra. gov.in (R2,500 for three people)
#33 Run the BNP
This July, the Borivli National Park (BNP) Endurathon turns five. What makes it one of the toughest races in Mumbai? S Shashidhar, one of the founders, describes the route. "The beauty of the race is that the distance of 25 km is full of challenges. There are two peaks along the way — Kanheri Caves, a 600 m climb, and Gandhi Tekdi at 825 m. The fourth climb comes at 23.5 m, which is no mean task. Every quarter of the race, you are climbing a hill." That the race is held in July means that humidity levels can be high.
HOW TO DO IT: While this year's registrations are closed, you can use the time to prep for next year. Follow them on Facebook
#34 Visit the temple that inspired your city's name
How did Bombay become Mumbai? It took its name from Mumba Devi Mandir, dedicated to goddess MumbÄÂÂÂÂ, who is the patron devi of the Agri and Koli communities. Skirting Zaveri Bazaar, the temple is in a chaotic spot, so be ready to brave the crowds. But it's going to be worth it because after you are done, you get to drop in at Mumbadevi Jalebiwala next door for a plate of kesar jalebi.
#35 Own a piece of luxury
Forget Zara. If you believe in retail therapy, it's a good idea to invest in a statement luxury piece before you turn 39. We spoke to fashion blogger Riaan George, and this is what he said: "First, women need to build a shoe collection. Get a signature piece from iconic brands like Christian Louboutin or Jimmy Choo. The starting range is usually R30,000." Men, George thinks, should own a statement Swiss watch. "It's the mark of a man who has arrived. If you are a first-time luxury watch buyer, look for a timeless Rolex, an ultra formal IWC or a sporty Panerai," he says.
HOW TO DO IT: Both Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo have outlets in Mumbai. The city is speckled with luxury watch stores so you shouldn't have trouble finding one.
#36 Sponsor someone's education
A volunteer from Asha Kiran Charitable trust teaches children on the streets of Versova. PIC/SNEHA KHARABE
If you want to give back but don't know how, why not sponsor the education of a less fortunate child? Asha Kiran Charitable Trust is one of many NGOs that works towards educating street children, and works across eight locations between DN Road and Versova. These are, says volunteer Sushma Parekh, schoolgoing kids who need extra classes to stay ahead of their peers. They also invite volunteers who can conduct workshops in art and music. The classes are held between 8 am and 11 am and 3 pm and 6 pm. If you'd like to sponsor a child's education, donate.
HOW TO DO IT: Email firstname.lastname@example.org
#37 Draft your retirement plan
If you are in your 30s and plan to retire in the next 20 years, and your current monthly expenses are R1 lakh a month, after 30 years — with an inflation rate of 5% — you will need R4.3 lakh a month. Assuming, says Nisreen Mamaji, that you live for 25 years post retirement, you will need R4.8 crore in your corpus at the time of retirement. The best time to start investing, therefore, is as soon as possible. If you plan to leave money for your children, the amount would be higher. She suggests earmarking three-year plans to check your growth and align your plans accordingly.
HOW TO DO IT: Log into www.moneyworks.co.in to start your plan
#38 Adopt an animal
Do you enjoy the idea of nurturing? Then may be raising an animal is for you. Love brings with it responsibilities and learning how to meet them is a good part of growing up. Once you have taken the decision for yourself, get your family on board so that no one resents having the animal at home. Speak to an animal trainer to understand what will work best for you — dog, cat, bird, turtle. Consider what you can afford to keep and how much time you can spare for it. In the meanwhile, you can engage with the local strays and speak for their needs by creating a monsoon shelter in your colony or ensuring they have a hideout during the Diwali din.
HOW TO DO IT: Connect with Youth Organisation in Defence of Animals (YODA) or Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD), both non-profits that have shelters and work towards the welfare of strays and rescued animals.
CALL: 9773555543 (YODA), 022 64222838 (WSD)
#39 Attend a court hearing
If the "tareekh pe tareekh" scene from Sunny-Deol starrer Damini piqued your interest, why not attend a real court hearing? Unless they are of a sensitive nature, most hearings are open to the public. Just check the Bombay High Court website for details, or walk in and inquire with the gatekeepers. Things to note: Dress formally, and keep your phone on silent.
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