The Day I Turned 30 Something Unforgettable Happened…

asha greece

Well it happened. I finally turned the big 3-0. It was a day that was built up with great anticipation in my mind and many ponderings of what the next decade will hold. I hope the rumors are true and that I will really “know thyself” as opposed to my 20s which were filled with learning experiences both good and bad.

I wasn’t as scared or depressed as I thought I would be, probably because I was in the Greek islands at the same time for a friend’s wedding and decided to use that as an excuse for a summer vacation. Being there with my boyfriend, who was the wedding photographer on the island of Mykonos (not too shabby!) and a group of Australian friends, some of whom were Greek, made for a really fun, adventurous time filled with great experiences I will never forget.

Asha K_ Hydra, Greece

But the day was marked by something even more unforgettable. My maternal grandmother who had been ill for quite some time, passed away that same morning in the nursing home in London where she had been staying. She was 87, and her name was Santosh Rani Verma. She was born in India, was married by the age of 16 to my grandfather Karamchand Verma (who sadly passed away in 1994 from alzheimer’s disease) and soon after, migrated to Tanzania where my mother and many of her siblings were born. In the 60s, she migrated again with her 6 children to the UK with free citizenship from the British Empire thanks to my grandfather’s hard work for them on the railroad in Africa. Many Indians were given Commonwealth citizenship after their work on the African railway as a reward for their hard work, though it didn’t come without it’s own challenges: moving to a predominantly white country fraught with racism towards the influx of Indians.

Nevertheless, my grandmother who was affectionately called ‘Toshi’ by her peers and ‘Mati’ by her family (which means mother in Hindi) was determined to give her family the chance at a great life with opportunities she never had. From the age of 16 onward, she was dedicated to her family, her children, her grandchildren, and even a handful of great grandchildren!

While I mourned the loss of such a beautiful strong matriarch in our family, it also made me sad for my mother losing her dear mom. But I thank God that my mom was able to take time off work in Australia and travel to be by her bedside in London as Mati drew her last breath on earth.

It is with all this in mind that I am thankful for a memorable and unforgettable 30th birthday. I feel honored that I can now celebrate each birthday and remember the life of my Mati. I can reflect on how selflessly she lived her life, and how she loved being in the company of friends and family. Ever the consummate host, even while she was bed ridden in the nursing home she would have visitors every day and night, and wouldn’t turn anyone away!

I on the other hand was thoroughly enjoying my holiday in Greece, a country I had never been to before. I feel so lucky and blessed to be able to travel around the world and live a life of leisure and luxury. My grandmother never really got the chance to do this. But it is because of her strength, determination, focus, sacrifice and love that I am able to live the life I have today.

The last time I saw Mati was in April 2013 when I decided to make a last minute trip to London after my mom told me she didn’t have much time left. I had just gotten back from a month-long trip to Bali for work on America’s Next Top Model and couldn’t stomach the thought of another flight. But I knew I had to do it. It is money and time I will never ever regret. Getting to spend a precious week in the company of my grandmother was a huge blessing.

Santosh Rani Verma

I didn’t anticipate most of this post to be about my grandmother, but I feel it is so fitting and appropriate to dedicate this post to her and celebrate the life of an amazing woman who has a huge impact on every member of my family. All my feelings of dread, fear, and trepidation about turning 30 have faded away as the passing of my grandmother has led me to realize how important our lives are.

One of the reasons I started GirlTalkHQ was because I believe there is so much media influencing girls in a negative way, and in effect “dumbing down” our generation of women not to be great thinkers, doers and pioneers like others before us. I want to use my efforts to make a difference and create something meaningful that will leave behind a legacy.

I vow to make the next 30 years of my life be even more meaningful than the previous. I want to make my family and friends proud of me. But even more so, I want to be able to look back when I am 60 and smile at the way I used my time, talents, resources and relationships in a positive and loving way like my grandmother did.

We all have women in our lives who have made an impact on us, whether they be related by blood or by bond. I am thankful for my mother, my grandmother, my sister and the myriad of friends and mentors who have helped me along my journey so far, and the women who I have yet to meet! I thank God for a memorable, unforgettable 30th birthday which enabled me not to just focus on myself, but get a bit of objective perspective about life and focus on someone else. What a privilege and a blessing to have grandmothers who teach us so much and ask nothing in return, never judging but always loving.

It is with all these sentiments in mind and heart that I am excited for the future. Always looking forward, leaving the past behind, and building a life filled with meaning, hope, love, joy and laughter. Thank you to all the wonderful people in my life who celebrated with me and wished me well. Let’s get this party started!

asha greece



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  1. Oh WOW Asha, that is the most touching story ive read. You are amazinh and will continue to be amazing! Prayers out to your grandma, god bless!!!

  2. Vanessa Rose says:

    You’re amazing. What a beautiful story x

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