Flashback, five years ago: Prior to the curriculum night at his school, I asked my high schooler if the new teacher who joined the science faculty was a young man. Pat came the reply, “Oh he’s quite old!” Expecting to see someone with gray hairs, I was surprised to meet a smart guy who at the most would have been in his early thirties. But that was what my seventeen-year-old felt: that his teacher was rather old. Since then I have never ceased pulling his leg reminding him about that incident.
My childhood besties Joyee and Deba just recently sent me their holiday pictures. On separate trips, they were both vacationing with their spouses in beautiful locations. Both couples have been married for more than 26 years, but they looked as young and romantic as ever, as though they had tied the knot not too long ago. I began to wonder: why on earth did I think that my parents were pretty old on their silver anniversary? The interesting part is that my mother, at that time, was younger than what I was on my 25th milestone! So did I at 19 think any differently from the way my son did? Definitely not!
How do we define who’s young or old? The point of reference is none other than ourselves. We may have perceived someone in his or her mid-forties as old, but when we ourselves reach that age, the thought process changes. We do not feel we have aged and smile to ourselves, remembering how in the past we had made that young person much older.
It calls for a celebration after you have spent half a century on planet Earth. Post 50, you are expected to be wiser, calmer, and certainly not crankier. And let me add that you are not to consider yourself older. Let style and elegance rule your lifestyle to make your days livelier and your minds younger! The mantra of life should be to age gracefully!
The only constant in life is change, and parenting is not an exception to this rule. We hear kids these days proudly raving about their cool moms and dads. As parents are becoming more liberal and broadminded, the distance between them and their offspring is bridged to a considerable extent. Most parents these days feel comfortable discussing topics with their children that were earlier considered a taboo. There is no magic formula for parenting or any foolproof remedy, but the chances of kids going astray are minimized if friendship takes the place of fear in the relationship.
Another welcoming and encouraging trend has emerged as the world is progressing on various fronts. There is a teeming multitude of people exhibiting an eagerness to learn new things to keep up the pace with the changing dynamics. Though introduced to technology late in their lives, a lot of people in their late sixties and seventies are seen perfectly at home using the latest gizmos and gadgets. They are the senior tech-savvy generation. Some are even active on social media, keeping themselves up-to-date with all what’s going on.
Looking around, we observe that there is a distinct shift in the fashion domain too. Two to three decades ago, most people, after reaching a certain age, resigned themselves to the fact that they were supposed to dress very traditionally or go for lighter, duller colors while picking their attire. That mentality is gradually fading away. It is indeed refreshing to see how people these days who discount their age dress so charmingly and fashionably. Well, it goes without saying that I am not eulogizing or counting the ones with fashion disasters in this category.
A compliment most people love is when they are told that they look much younger than their age. And here comes in the Indian custom of addressing people older to one’s self as “uncle” or “aunt”, or as “brother” or “sister”. A person may not be related to you, but as a mark of respect, you do not call him or her by their name. The dicey part however is deciding on the right term. “Aunt” and “uncle” are obviously the older relations, as opposed to “sister” and “brother” which give the impression of that forever-young image.
Someone who landed in the United States from India approached me with an interesting question. After having met quite a few people from her home state, she was in a dilemma about how to address the ladies older to her. It was confusing as to what was appropriate to call them: “sister” or “aunty”. I offered an easy solution. It is always safer to go for the “sister” tag. Just as they say it’s not right to ask a woman her age, it is advisable that lest you offend someone by calling her “aunty”, make her happy with the feeling that she is young enough to be your elder sister.
We all love to look young, feel young, and stay young, not to forget be called young. A WhatsApp image that landed on my phone a few days ago hinged exactly on that same tune. A bunch of ladies in their fifties or perhaps even older posed for a selfie with the caption: “We are not old. We are recycled teenagers.” And why not, if we are brave enough to be cooler, hipper, and fashionably smarter?