Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Life Carnival

It's not often that you get to meet and greet someone on his 100th Birthday. So when the opportunity came by recently, I gladly did. We were going for a walk, when one of my friends said, "Hey, it is Sri.Gopal Rao garu's 100th birthday, shall we drop in to greet him ?". I hadn't interacted with the person before, though I roughly knew he had been the Chairman of Andhra Bank many decades ago and was now approaching 100. Nevertheless, I thought let's just drop in to have a quick word. Or, to put it formally, to seek his blessings and mention our prayers to the Lord for his good health and long(er) life.

Two things I liked about him: his liveliness and his sense of humour. He didn't know who I am, so he asked, "where do you work ?", and when I mentioned, he quickly recollected a couple of related incidents. "An old man like me lives by his memories, and fortunately in my case, they are all sweet memories", he said. He had a free-flowing chatty style and always had a quip, a remark or a slight touch of sarcasm that brought a giggle in you every once in a while. He had problems of the body but he wasn't sulking about them. "I sometimes recollect my memories aloud in the night", he said, "but then I realize that there is someone sleeping in the next room, then I become quiet. Poor fellow, his sleep must be getting disturbed". It seemed to me that he had learnt to live with the body's problems, put the mind in charge and also to divert his attention to other lively things like interacting with people, listening to the radio and so on. The experience and wisdom of 100 years is definitely something to celebrate. There was a felicitation function and he gave a talk the next day and his sharp wit created waves of laughter in the audience. Wow, what humour at this age man, was the talk of the town.

It set me thinking on aging. I think, after an age, lively old people become more like kids. Both like storytelling. Both feel good when someone talks to them and feel terribly bored if there is no one to talk to. Both don't want to stay in one place, if they are able enough to move around. Both are attached to their toys, albeit different ones. Both hum to themselves when they are alone. Both speak the truth, the kids until the world corrupts them and the elderly since they have seen it all, the futility of falsehood. Both remember the gifts they have received from others almost with date and time.

Ironically, the same instructions and caring advice that a parent gives to his kid, returns to him/her in his old age in a slightly different flavour. Some of these instructions, you can slightly flip and see that it can apply both in a father-young-kid conversation and in a son-old-father conversation.

1. Look at either side of the road before you cross. Be careful not to bump into old people / Be careful kids don't bump into you.
2. Don't move around too much and tire yourself.
3. Not too many chocolates, not too many ice creams. Eat healthy.
4. If you are not well, don't hesitate, let me know early so we could take early action.
5. Follow doctor's instructions verbatim.
6. Go for walks in the morning/evening (Don't miss your games).
7. Plan your travel well in advance.
8. Don't try to lift weights that are heavier than you can, you are going to hurt your back.
9. Don't read in poor light, it harms your eyes.
10. Wear your sweater and monkey cap when you go out in the winter.
11. Don't climb the stairs too fast, you might slip and fall.
12. And remember, I am telling all this for your own good.

The other day, someone asked me to frame a greeting message, for writing on a greeting card to give to his uncle and aunt on their 50th wedding anniversary. I knew nothing about how one might feel on such an occasion, but I tried to write up something in general about Life as a celebration. Because it takes a lot to hit a century or to partner for a 50 each together. These folks acquire a kind of learning from life that can be acquired only by living life. Having seen so many ups and downs, they acquire a certain balanced, yet positive, approach to life that is tinted with the equanimity that rests in the understanding of "even this will pass away". They raise above petty fights, jealousy and hatred that people engage in, in their middle years. Which is why, the ripening of the fruit should as much be a cause for celebration as is the blooming of a flower or the germination of the seed.


  1. Interesting posts. A bit long though..Very different from the blogs I normally read.

  2. Thanks. Hopefully I should do something about the verbosity syndrome. And that is not only about my blogs. :)


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THANK YOU: These reflections draw sometimes from readers and friends who initiate ideas, build up discussions, post comments and mention interesting links, some online and some over a cup of coffee or during a riverside walk. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this blog are the blogger's personal opinions and made in his individual capacity, sometimes have a story-type approach, mixing facts with imagination and should not be construed as arising from a professional position or a counselling intention.