The biggest secret to feeling young is to never stop meeting pretty girls. It’s one of the first things I learned in life. I was 19 when I fell in love with Pearl, my first wife. I wanted to marry her, and my parents, who were quite strict and rather traditional, asked me how I could when I didn’t have a job or money. And Pearl had two daughters from her previous marriage. But I defied my parents, and that’s how I ended up getting into advertising — my first job was as a copywriter, for Rs 300 a month.
I’ve had three marriages. Pearl was a wonderful person, and we were ecstatically happy for 10-15 years. But eventually, I found the adventure had gone. Any product, whether it’s a marriage or a food product, has a sell-by date. It gets stale, boring, and monotonous. I’m a creative person who’s over-influenced by Picasso and other artists. I believe that you have to have a muse. For me, that has always been women. And the muse can’t be the same all your life; you have to renew the idea. So I found another. And then another. And yet, I don’t share a bitter relationship with my ex-wives. I’m close to all my kids, and share a wonderful relationship with them.
Life should be full of joy, and I’m a great believer in the saying ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. Even if you’re down in the dumps, and a tragedy or a big problem arises, the sun is waiting to peek out. Most young people today have never learned that. You must get involved in life, to not let a single minute go without thinking of something exciting, whether that’s your girlfriend/ boyfriend, or even a big exam. The attitude should be ‘wow, what a challenge’, and not ‘what a problem’. The word ‘problem’ should be banished from the dictionary. The only antidote to anxiety is action, together they make the three As.
When I wake up in the morning, I have my breakfast, and then work on two lists. One is a hate list, which, as the name implies, includes things like paying my insurance, going for a medical checkup, phoning clients who owe me money. My love list is calling up my daughter, my son, my girlfriend, and read at least a chapter from a book I find exciting. In fact, I love Shakespeare and he helped me find a solution to something I find very boring – exercise. The doctor said I must walk and I got a treadmill which I would use every night while watching my favourite show on TV. And when that ended, I stopped using the treadmill. My daughter, Shazahn, said she’ll get me some more DVDs but I thought of a solution. Now every night, I walk up and down my hall, and I recite Shakespeare. I’ve already done seven of his plays and I intend to do the rest of the 28.
I have been recently invited to New York University to give a talk on Indian playwrights in October. Many people wonder if this is the age to go abroad. But my daughter will be coming with me, she’s a wonderful companion, and we’re going to have a great time. The other day a friend asked me, what is it that you’re most excited about when you go there? Surely Broadway? I said yes, I will go on Broadway and also see the plays off Broadway, but what I’m looking forward to the most is going to a very famous disco that has just opened. I love dancing and go to Hard Rock Café in Bombay at least once in a month. Now, I’m going to go to the New York one. People often tell me, “Alyque, act your age.” I do. I’m 17 and studying at St Xavier’s college.
I’m very happy to be alive and when I have to go, which will be in some time, I tell my friends, don’t grieve. Just say he lived a full life, falling in love with everything. That’s my philosophy – fall in love with life, every day. As Frank Sinatra sang, “If you’re young at heart...”
- As told to Shikha Kumar
From HT Brunch, August 21, 2016
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