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The swinging sixties

Shobhaa De shares her views on why youth is wasted on our youngsters and why it is glorious and fun to be a — huh! — senior citizen.

india Updated: Sep 25, 2010 01:36 IST

‘Hum jab hongey sath saal ke…’ has been my theme song for the past two years. That I sing off key is another matter. Asha Bhonsle just turned 77 and celebrated her birthday performing at a concert in Singapore. Shabana Azmi joined the Sensational Sixties Club earlier this week and rocked her own party by dancing to the season’s big hit ‘Munni badnaam hui…. Darrrrrling tere liye’. Yup. That makes it official. Today’s 60-year-olds are Item Girls with attitude. And as that delicious strap line for an unhealthy snack goes, ‘I am lovin’ it’.

Far too much is being made of youth, and how wonderful it is to be a part of the under-30 generation these days. You know what? Keep it! Youth, I mean. I swear I’d hate to be a young person in India today. Ooof… total emotional atyachar, yaar! What can these dudes and dudettes in India look forward to? Come on, think about it? Unemployment, suicides, corruption, caste issues, communal issues, terror attacks, discrimination, quota systems, double digit inflation…. more corruption?

Youth is definitely getting wasted on the young. From the heady sex, drugs and rock’n’roll hedonism of the 60s and 70s… to this depressing mess? By comparison, celebrating one’s ‘Eksashthi’ (61st birthday) sounds positively sexy! I am having the best time of my life as a senior citizen — a far better time than I ever had as a broke, insecure, far-from-accomplished young thing. I mean, who needs struggle? Who needs the bloody tension of being considered cool or uncool based on the brand of jeans covering one’s far-from-perfect butt?

Naah. Youth and all things youthful are totally overrated. I see more worry lines on the faces of 20-something starlets (the bling and botox brigade) than on the 60+ and seriously gorgeous Hema Malini’s calm and contented visage. Dev Anand at well over 80 is a darn sight more stylish and does his sartorial layering with far more finesse than that Shirtless Wonderboy, Salman Khan. And yes, Dev Saab continues to be a chick magnet (eat your heart out Ranbir, Imran, Shahid and all you other callow fellows).

Really, ‘Jawani ki diwani’ is a huge con. Being jawan in India is a little like being a gay guy in a bordello — the equipment works, but there’s no application. When I look at the collective neuroses that has paralysed this generation of alarmingly young but essentially vague people, I thank my stars I was spared.

No Sir, we really are pretty okay at this age and stage. We have our lines (verbal and physical) in place. And what’s a li’l bit of cellulite idhar udhar between friends and accepting spouses? But that does not give us sleepless nights. We are entitled to our smugness! Our love affairs have always been with human beings not with laptops, BlackBerrys and other gizmos. We lived in the real world, not a virtual one, and men had sex with real partners, not with Savita Bhabhi. Our communication was face-to-face instead of on Facebook.

At 30, we were pretty sorted. We didn’t have to hang around dimly-lit clubs waiting to meet some impossibly perfect god or goddess, who, like Godot, didn’t bother to show up! We settled for the best ‘alliance’ going, moved into rented apartments and didn’t worry about e.m.i.s and other such financial annoyances. We paid our bills with real money, not plastic. And most of our assets were tangible — mother’s gold bangles, father’s Rolex, that kind of stuff. We had the best parties and weddings that weren’t super productions or ‘events’ marketed by hawks counting every extra orchid and barfi.

For our honeymoon, we didn’t think beyond Simla, Darjeeling or even sweet old neighbourhood hill stations like Mahableshwar. Istanbul, Ibiza or Sao Paulo for bachelorette blowouts? Not a chance! We held hands at soppy movies and licked the same ice-cream cone by way of erotic symbolism. The ipill didn’t exist, and only bad girls ‘did it’ with their boyfriends.

There were always people with more money, better boobs, fancier cars, bigger homes. But the ‘Lifestyle’ disease had not grown into a lethal, full-blown, worldwide virus that it is today. Of course, we died of jealousy when the neighbour bought a Fiat or an Ambassador. But we also believed ‘Mera number aa jayega’.

Impossible is nothing? It’s not as dumb as it first sounds. We were a generation of believers. We naively believed Gordon Gekko when he stated, “Greed is good”. Today’s kids chant “Money never sleeps”. Neither do they!

What the young in India need more than almost anything else today is a dream. I am just happy and relieved my generation got to live theirs. Picasso, that randy old goat had grandly declared, “Youth has no age.” It so doesn’t.

Botox for the soul, anyone?