Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Decades

How must it feel to turn 50; to complete another decade in one’s life? Does it carry the same sense of completion as when the world completes a decade?

I think not.

We look at our lives in terms of years and events, even when we take a backseat big-picture view of it. So, I was 8 when we moved to Coimbatore, 16 when I finished school, 21 when I was married, 26 when I had my first child, 35 when I bought my first house and so on and so forth. We have specific years that are important to us because of some event that happened in that year, and we look at it that way. When we complete a decade and turn, let’s say, 50, then we tend to start subtracting to find out how many years ago that important event happened in our lives, and with mock (and sometimes real) astonishment, exclaim that it happened 12 or 17 or 31 years ago.

However, when the world looks at its life, it does so in decades and events, and the world almost always takes a backseat big-picture view of it. So, Elvis gyrated in the fifties, the hippie movement made free love in the sixties, the eighties had really bad taste in fashion and so on. Surprisingly enough, we don’t perform mathematical calculations to find out how many years ago it was as much as we do in our lives. We never wake up in the morning (or go to sleep at night) and say, “My goodness, Beatlemania happened 47 years ago.”

However, I have, in the last 5 months or so, had a niggling addition to make in my subtractions. I can no longer simply subtract from 100 and arrive that the sixties happened 40 years ago. I now have to subtract from 110 and that adds an annoying extra decade to my arrivals. The eighties (the decade I was born in) now happened 30 years ago; that means that I will turn 30 this decade. The seventies existed 40 years ago and the sixties 50 years ago. The nineties themselves, which seemed to have only just passed – wasn’t it just some time ago that we were following Nirvana on a daily basis and Bill Clinton was in office with the Monica Lewinsky scandal breaking out and Ayrton Senna died – are now 20 years ago. 20 years! There was a time when it used to be just a few years ago.

Time is flying like The Silver Surfer with little wings on his feet and his helmet and his wrist-cuffs and with rocket boosters under his surfboard; time is galloping like Seabiscuit on the home stretch straining every muscle; the clock on Big Ben (and everywhere else around the world) ticks ahead at the frenetic pace of one second every second. What are you doing to keep up?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Generation Gap - II

I am flying back to Bangalore from Mumbai. I find my specially requested seat in the emergency exit row 12. In 12A and 12B sit an elderly lady and her husband. 12C is currently empty, though it will be occupied soon by a Sardar almost as tall as me and bigger than I who, I think, is on his way to a job interview. Then comes the dividing no-man's land, also known as the aisle. I sit in 12D and next to me are the 2 daughters of the afore-mentioned elderly couple, both somewhere in their twenties, I presume.

The older daughter, her hands intricately embellished with mehendi, leans over and tells her father, "Switch off your mobile phone."
The parents fumble around for a bit before a helpful piece of advice - "Press the button on the top" - is volleyed across from the younger generation. In tandem, both parents immediately reach up and press the button calling for the air hostess on the shelf above their heads.

The older daughter once again leans over a little later and asks her mother, "Amma, pass Appa's iPod."
Her mother industriously goes through her handbag before triumphantly producing a piece of plastic.
Her daughter gently tells her, "Amma, I asked for the iPod, not the ID," while her younger sibling tries hard to suppress her giggles.

The flight is well and smoothly on its way. The older daughter is reading a travel book about an Indian author's journey to Mount Kailash, while across the aisle, her father is poised asleep over an open newspaper, his face wearing an intensely serious expression of reading and the laughing eyes behind his black reading glasses closed.

Friday, May 07, 2010

The Generation Gap

I'm playing basketball with a boy probably in his early teens.

Me (leading 14-6): Ok, I won't go in for any more lay-overs.
Kid looks at me quizzically.
Me (realising my mistake): I mean, I won't go in for any more lay-ups.

Me: When you go in for the lay-up, drive aggressively so you can draw the foul.
Kid: That's called 'earning a foul', right?

Me: What's the matter? Don't you drink Glucon-D? You're flopping all over the court.
Kid: No, I drink Gatorade.

Kid: How old are you?
Me: 26.
Kid: Whoa!
Me: Yeah, I know, I look a lot younger than I am.
Kid: No, if you were under 18, then you could have grown some more.

I'm 6'6".