Raising a toast to Bryan Adams’ 18 Till I Die, a large number of not-so-young, but definitely fancy-free residents of Delhi are making a song and dance of age.
At 63, Greater Kailash resident Dr Dinesh Singal is reliving the movies of the ’60s through piano classes. Ask him what prompted him to enrol for piano lessons now and he laughs, “As a young man, whenever I would see Dilip Kumar or Sunil Dutt singing at the piano, I too would long to do so. I finally have the time to pursue my dream. I’m not a bad singer either.”
Like Dr Singal, a number of senior citizens are now chasing dreams that took a backseat while making a career and raising kids. “We have at least five people who are more than 50 years old coming to us for piano lessons once a week,” says an official at the Theme Piano Music School, Greater Kailash. Most of them are from South Delhi — and retired. “Some of them call it a form of meditation,” the official adds.
At 59, Neerja and her 61-year-old husband Rajesh Dhamija have chosen salsa “to stay fit and young”. Says Neerja, a housewife, “Our children are both well settled and busy in their careers. Our time is our own again.” The two of them spent many months away from each other with Rajesh’s job as a marketing head of a company requiring a lot of travelling. Now they are finally together again. “This is the second innings of our marriage,” says Rajesh. “And we’ve decided to play it our way, without any more responsibilities to shoulder,” adds Neerja. For the time being, this involves twice-a-week dance classes and a game of bridge with spirited, old friends every weekend.
“An increasing number of elderly men, women and couples are putting on their dancing shoes,” says Neena Varshneya of Jhankar Beats. “Only recently, a 65-year-old gentleman from South Delhi came to learn bhangra,” she says. The institute also had a group of four friends — all women aged over 50 — from Kalkaji who wanted to learn “Bollywood dance”.
“Dance is a great form of cardio exercise,” says 62-year-old Manjari Sinha, who retired as a teacher and now lives in Rohini. “But to keep fit, basic weight-training is also needed.” She spends at least an hour in the gym three to four times a week. “I’m trying to convince my husband to join the gym too, but he would rather go for morning walks,” says Sinha.
A writer, a poet and now an aspiring singer, for 73-year-old Moti Bagh resident Surbir Singh, melody holds the magic. “I’ve been writing poems and ghazals for decades. Some time back, I felt that I should also be able to sing my ghazals,” says Surbir. He promptly joined Passion, The Music and Dance Institute. “He has been learning music here for the last two years,” says Ranjit Ahuja, owner of the institute.
Clearly, the greying tribe of Delhi is singing a different tune — that age doesn’t count. Youth is forever, if you set your heart on it.