Friday, December 3, 2010

Old, Older, Oldest!

Weird fact: a total stranger asked me my age in total seriousness today. I was buying something from her shop, and she popped the question.
Weirder fact: I told her my real age. Just like that.
Weirdest fact: She pondered over my reply, and said "Hmmm... well, you're older than I thought." It's weird because I don't know whether she meant to insult me, or to give me a back-handed compliment by meaning that I looked younger than my age. In which case, regardless of how old I looked, I take it to mean that she felt my years were not few by any standards. As compliments go, that would have been one of the most back-handed ones I've ever received. I had to look really far behind to be able to see it.

I went to get a dress tailored today, since some of us thought it might be fun to get together for dinner, where all the ladies wore LBDs (little black dresses). The dressmaker, without any instructions on my part, immediately began looking for dress patterns that were short,yet mature. Ouch.

Is it my imagination, or am I getting older faster than I am inside my head? And why is everyone reminding me of my age? They almost always get it wrong anyway. The "underestimaters" think I'm a college kid (haha) and the "overestimaters" (whom I hate) look at my profession and label me as nearing forty. Not cool. What is more important anyway - your mental age or your chronological age? Inside, I'm just the age I want to be. Outside, I'm getting a little too old to mix with certain groups, dress in certain ways or do certain things.

Which got me thinking. Why this obsession with youth anyway? Granted, no one wants to get old and wrinkled, dependent upon younger members of the family. But when did this kind of attitude towards old age start? If we look at old texts, the Bible or folklore for instance, the old were venerated, respected, obeyed, almost worshiped. Now of course, the times are a-changing as Dylan would say. But what exactly are we achieving in our perennial attempts at everlasting youth? What kind of values are we inculcating in the younger generation?

Youth is fine, if it characterized by innocence, energy, curiosity, beauty - in short, all the finest qualities that one has in one's youth. In our society today however, being young seems to be equated with having a total lack of responsibility, accountability and remaining a baby. Being a baby doesn't always mean that you are youthful. If one isn't careful, one could end up being a 75-year old baby.

I see a lot of post graduate students still addressing their parents as "aanu" "aapa". C'mon, I think they can safely go past the baby-talk at this stage. Just call them "Kanu" and "Kapa" for goodness'sake! I may sound overly grouchy, but behind this babytalk is an accompanying lack of maturity in the way they relate to adults around them. If you're over 18, you're considered an adult. Period. So act and talk like one. Which is why I abhor the way the term of address, "U" is being used nowadays. Prefixing "U" was a way of showing respect to a person older than you, and it indicated good breeding, humility and propriety to know who to address as such. What is rather amusing and irritating now is that people prefix the "U" not so much as a sign of respect, but as a way of letting you know that they are younger than you. I swear people that I grew up with, who called me by my name just like everyone else, have suddenly started adding the "U". And it sure as hell isn't because they have suddenly developed a new-found respect for me! Which is why, I'm guessing, fellow blogger and friend Calliopia resents people adding the "U" in front of online nicks :) C'mon, it's a nick!

Anyway, I'm rambling on, which just goes to show that I may be a little more "senior" than I would like to believe. Oh well.

To end on a more upbeat note, something of mine is getting published by OUP, slated for release on December 9th. Here is the link, and I say something because it's an anthology, and I was asked to submit poems, articles and translations. I have no idea what they picked out. But I got my name on print, so yay!

Am off for a short holiday next week, and will be back and posting on the work I've done on the Aizawl Thunders soon. Ciao!!


  1. funny thing, age. at 16, i was quite convinced i would die at 30, midway between the deaths of my two favourite people at the time. that number has come and gone, and i'm still kicking hard. i know a couple, both in their late 70s and five knee replacements between them, who still go skiing every winter. then there was my grandfather, who at 75+ was a good bit stronger than my 20 year old self.

    whatever people say, i really think one is as old as one feels. 30 is the new 20!

  2. WOW congrats!! I can hardly wait to read you in print. And in such a classy looking book too :p Hmmm this definitely calls for a celebration *does happy little jig*

    About your grouches, I've noticed the "aanu" "aapa" often too. Must be some new fad or something. And young people today are really very immature. That's something we once discussed at a faculty meeting at work. They literally have to be treated like children in some areas while in others they're precocious beyond imagination!

    And ooops, I misread your last para as you posting on the work you've done "with" the Aizawl Thunders and I was wondering if you've been a closet vroom vroom-er all along :D

  3. @feddabon: how gracious of you to be the first to leave your imprint on this 'comeback' post of mine! I know, out here everyone thinks they're over the hill the minute they turn 60, which is so sad! I guess with this kind of attitude, it's understandable that people would want to postpone getting old as much as they can- alas, all our little tricks can't help us avoid the inevitable.

    @Calliopia: thanks!:) I was hoping you'd rejoice with me; of course, it could just be a miniscule piece that's been included (I have no idea). I shouldn't get started on the whole 'immature' bit again, but honestly, our students seem to be younger every year... and yet, chronologically, they are still the same age as previous batches. And you're right, they are extremely (and shockingly) advanced in some areas. Huiz. You didn't tell me how to insert the links, btw... I did the 'insert link' thing, and nothing came out :(

  4. Uh oh sorry, real oldie here so I missed that. You just select the text in your post you want linked, then click the insert link thingy, enter the URL of your link, click ok and that's it.

    To come back to your book, I'd be seriously flabbergasted if they include just a miniscule piece. You're the most accomplished and polished Mizo writer in English so I imagine they'd have a tough time deciding which pieces to omit, if at all!

  5. @Calliopia: You are too kind.... not that I agree with you, but thanks *hugs*

    I finally did the link thingy....yayyyy!! Mucho gracias.

  6. Congrats for the publishing!

    About age, it's funny. I felt really old by 17 and some people actually called me a 'nula upa'because i was working and going to college while several persons older than me were still in high school and so carefree without any adult responsibilities. A few such people addressed me as 'U' in public. But now that i'm really old and waiting to go, well, i don't feel so old any more!

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  8. To me, you look fine! Whatever your chronological age may be, I believe age is just an issue of the mind over matter! just don't mind and it wouldn't matter! I, for one have a lot to be thankful for when I take time to ponder about my wrinkles! It's a real God Bless to discover that wrinkles don't hurt! ha ha!

  9. Upa a piang an puitlinglo, puitling a piang an upa vek kher lo... van thatak. Putar/pitar hun hian an naupang tha leh tih hi a dik ang em le? Ngaihtuahna a thil engkim lo hreve tawh taksa chak tawh silo te tan hian phunchiar a awl duh bik ang em? Fuh ber chu mahni nihna ang chiah hian awm ila.

    Yessss... miss congrats, i ziahpui ho hi an theuneulo, nang tiamin.

  10. I find it annoying when fully grown men and women address their parents as 'Anu' Apa' in their fully matured voices too. So not sexy. And I won't get started about the age issue. Especially there in Mizoram.

  11. 30 is the new 20, 40 the new 30 and (wait for it)60 the new 40 (ask Shoba De)

  12. as the saying goes, "beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder", will it not be appropriate to say "age lies in the mind of the beholder" too? :-)

  13. These days, its almost a 'shame' to be old, though it comes naturally for everyone because ... Idon't know, arrogance of youth??