There are no holidays these days

It’s the most dreaded question a present-day senior would like to avoid, “So, how do you spend your time?” No one wants to give the typical reply that once used to kindle envy in others but now seems oddly out of place, “Well, I’m busy doing nothing! It’s like being on a permanent holiday!”

On the other hand, a smarter response like, “I cannot wait to join my new assignment!” or “I have been accepted at the University to study for a doctorate,” would at once draw admiration and reposition the person’s image as a dynamic retiree ready for a second innings.

Like it or not, there’s a mild form of peer pressure through such comparisons even among seniors today. This could send some of those who’d planned to take the original concept of retirement seriously, on a guilt trip.

Conventional wisdom tells one that the time is ripe enough to call it a day and enjoy the fruits of labour invested in the prime of one’s life in order to be carefree later. But, the new-age theory advocates a relook at retirement. They cite the example of none other than our politicians who seem to come into their own only at an age when the salaried middle-class folks are sent home on completion of service. Now that age sixty is seen as the new fifty, seniority is no longer considered a ‘second childhood’ but ‘evolved adulthood’ where there’s scope for more before giving in to old-age woes.

One way or the other, a sequel seems inevitable now in a senior’s life. Would it be more or less a repeat of the pre-retirement stage marked by rivalry, one-upmanship and needless stress? Not really, they say. It’s not so much about power and pelf as it’s about keeping oneself engaged with some pursuit or the other which need not necessarily be a nine-to-five job. In the absence of any purposeful activity, one tends to lie down quite often on the bed leading to weakening of the muscles and immune system, thus hastening the process of old age.

Here, social media has a major role to play by opening up a range of endless possibilities. With many ‘dare’ videos doing the rounds, a few inspired elders want to try their hand at challenging tasks. “If a ninety-year-old can shake a leg to a peppy tune and post it on Instagram, why can’t I when I’m thirty years younger?” asks a doughty lady in our colony where the winds of change have touched the older generation. They believe that if one keeps the tempo, it could take one to the next level, almost akin to Gurudom. All you need is a wise all-knowing look (which comes with age anyway) with convincing tones and the rest is easy. One could give tips on just about anything under the sun– be it investments, health, or spiritual gyan. If one develops the level-headedness to accept both bouquets and brickbats in equal measure, following the performance, then he or she is firmly on the path.

Some enterprising neighbours have even decided to demonstrate some of their grandma’s forgotten recipes and traditional home remedies in their individual kitchens and post them on YouTube under cool brand names like ‘Cookbuddy’ or the name of the cook herself with the term ‘kitchen’ appended to it like A’s kitchen. Of course, what’s more important than these frills, is the need to exercise utmost caution and do a few trial runs before exhibiting one’s homegrown culinary or medical skills. No fun in being held responsible for causing a mini disaster in somebody’s kitchen by inadvertently suggesting a wrong mix and match of ingredients and attracting a slew of dislikes. Here’s one unique situation where one cannot possibly apply the usual disclaimer — ‘Do not try this at home!’

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