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Meet Mrs Rip Van Wrinkle

Meet Mrs Rip Van Wrinkle

india Updated: Aug 15, 2006 03:35 IST
Neha Mehta

Year 2025 might be just 19 years away, but purely in terms of the gargantuan leaps — both technological and socio-cultural — we are poised to take, it may as well be a geological age away. India is projected to be the world’s third largest economy by then, and Delhi would have a spanking new look, possibly having hosted the Olympics and the Asian Games. The Commonwealth Games, of course, would be history. And yet, my impending middle age doesn’t allow me to particularly look forward to 2025.

The prospect of being a 40-something hurtling into a mid-life crisis, completely at sea with the Technopolis around me, is, well, quite horrific. Being chided by the teenybopper gizmo-guzzler at home for being a Flintstone with my PC and manual SLR camera (like I chide my mother today for not having quite figured out how to text message) just completes the picture of the dark Middle Ages of my life.

Though I hope I’ll be smart enough not to devolve into a Lady Rip Van Winkle, there’s no escaping the fact that I would be Lady Rip Van Wrinkle two decades from now. Besides the city’s chrome-glass-concrete good looks, there would be the svelte Mrs. Jones’ to keep up with in the battle of the bulging adipose and sagging epithelial. I don’t think I will ever get around to acquiring their accoutrements: Stem cell facials at the neighbourhood parlour (that would boast of latest imported treatments), hair that never needs a snip, lipstick that self-repairs, clothes spiffed up with nanotech so that they never stain or crease. Considering that a sizeable chunk of our population which is under 25 right now would be nineteen years older in 2025, I am fairly certain that 40-is-the-new-17 would be everyone’s mantra. And given my extreme inertia to reigning fashion trends, I can just see an acerbic Mrs. Goel next door arching her permanently talon-like eyebrows at me and muttering, “What a frump.”

Trends in the West today are sure to have permeated and overhauled the Indian consciousness by 2025. Expect the ‘with-it’ couples who are infertile to hanker for ‘designer’ babies conceived and gestated at a comfortable distance from them — perhaps with no biological resemblance to them whatsoever. So Mrs. Chopra, with her neo-colonial hangover and peroxide blonde hair, could perhaps ‘make’ babies with ‘yellow hair and blue eyes’. Mrs. Iyer, who remembers her 20s as one long bad hair day, could ensure that her kids are born with straight hair, so that they never bemoan their genetic make-up. And the teenybopper gizmo-guzzler at home who wasn’t conceived in a lab like some of her peers, is going to grow up resentful and complexed.

If my prognostications of doom haven’t depressed you already, here’s the macro picture: By 2025, India will be a demographic time bomb with 1.4 billion people; we are likely to be a water depressed nation; there will be 57 million diabetics in the country... All our beautiful people, with stem cells coursing through their mummified bodies, may not be able to live their plastic dreams after all. HIV would take its toll on an estimated 16 million Indians.

Another niggling issue: Though I would like to be sanguine about the fate of Man-kind, the current stock of men that will grey simultaneously with me, doesn’t give me much hope. I do hope that the much-hyped cyborgs of the future go beyond making humans redundant at work: they are programmed to be smart and sensitive, and great cooks too. It may not be such a bad idea to take one home to mom.