Bangalore Talkies: How to be a cool ‘aunty’ or ‘uncle.’
It takes a little humility but there are ways you can stay relevant and indeed, cool.
When it comes to age, it takes a little humility but there are still many ways you can stay relevant and indeed, cool. There are some mental constructs that we assume to be true. Older people are wiser. People get set in their ways as they get older. Both are untrue.
Seventeen years ago, my husband and I moved back from Manhattan to Bengaluru — for two reasons. We wanted to bring up our daughters in an Indian milieu so that they would have a place that they could call “home.” We wanted them to grow up in a place where they didn’t have to spell out their name and where other kids looked like them.
The second reason was our parents. They were getting older and we wanted to be around to care for them. What we didn’t bargain for was that we would be taking care of a number of elderly relatives whose children were abroad. All this has given me a ringside view of the aging process. My parents and in-laws have lived in my building and I have seen — in an intimate and daily fashion — how they have aged. I have also watched others age in ways that are good, and not-so-good.
From what I have seen, folks who age well have a few qualities. They have interests, even passions that go beyond their children and grandchildren. My erstwhile Chennai neighbour, T.S. Nagarajan Mama now lives in New Jersey and has published over 100 Tamil podcasts of stories.
Similarly, Dr Pratibha Karanth leads a busy life as a speech language pathologist, parent, wife and grandparent, but she makes time to travel – to over 70 countries and counting– with a group of friends.
So how to “game” ageing? Some do volunteer work, some play golf or bridge, some take up photography. The point is that aging well involves pursuing something that is important to you — not just because it brings you joy but also because it helps you stay alive, relevant, interesting and interested.
With that preamble, here are some things that I have figured out and am trying to implement.
The bottom line is of course what every great religion preaches. Each soul has its own journey, and no matter what you do, you cannot protect your loved ones, be they child, parent, sibling or spouse from the pain that they are destined to undergo.
Before you seek to pass on your views and neuroses to others, best to ask yourself: Will I take my own advice? Can I live out what I am preaching?
If the answer is no, then you should just shut up.
Shoba Narayan is Bengaluru-based award-winning author. She is also a freelance contributor who writes about art, food, fashion and travel for a number of publications.
Ageing is a construct and a process. Find your way into it. We all have to.
Very helpful :)