What does it take to age well? Some Bengalureans give their take
To me, this combination of having a passion, a routine that includes physical activity and family, and a hobby that keeps you engaged and surrounded by people is a great way to age. But hey, that’s just me.
Deepa Mohan is 66-year-old, a naturalist, theatre reviewer, punster, singer, mom, grandmother, and takes interested people all over Bengaluru on nature outings called “Deepa Mohan Walks.” She blogs about it too. To me, this combination of having a passion, a routine that includes physical activity and family, and a hobby that keeps you engaged and surrounded by people is a great way to age. But hey, that’s just me.
What is the secret of aging well? I asked different questions to some thoughtful Bengalureans.
How are you approaching your ageing?
Psychiatrist Prabha Chandra: For me at 60 years of age, it is about being authentic in everything I do and having meaningful connections and conversations with people of all ages. I still like to look good and pay attention to my appearance and attire but now it is more about what appeals to me rather than how I appear to others. Fortunately, I have eager young students who keep me on my toes with their discussions and questions, so the mind stays active. I like to be on the move and physically active with my husband. We have a five-year plan of covering as many wildlife national parks as we can!
What does ageing mean to you?
Manipal Global Education chairman Mohandas Pai: When you get older, the days seem to end too fast. You realise that life is a complex unwieldy interaction between people. You learn to listen to other people’s views. Talk less. Maintain relationships. Family becomes very important. Older role models have resilience, courage, a sense of spirituality and proportion, and find peace within themselves. They also accept that one day they have to go and meet their maker. If you experience this kind of quiet acceptance, you find that it is the only real way to be. Aging is a process where you try to make peace with yourself, find new relationships and new levels of happiness, of quiet and solitude.
Who is your role model with respect to aging? What is the secret to aging?
Prestige Group managing director Rezwan Razack: My role model is my older brother, Irfan. He is 69 but behaves and believes that he is 29. The secret of aging is that you don’t retire. You have to work till your last breath. I haven’t missed work in 50 years because of sickness. The bottom line is that if you eat right, have a regimented lifestyle and work well, you won’t have time to think about your health problems. I have seen energetic happy people who hang up their boots. Within a short time, their thought process changes. The mind starts playing games. They complain of pains, headaches, chest congestion. Look at Biki Oberoi. He goes to work at 93. I plan to do the same.
What does age mean to you?
Physician Anindita Bhateja: We hear this all the time. Age is just a number. But it’s not. Metabolic changes happen all the time. We slow down. But what we have on our side is experience and the ability to get in touch with our inner self and a stronger mind. If we train our minds, we can train our body. I am 52-year-old. Today I can do almost everything, albeit slowly. I can climb mountains, dive in the ocean, learn cycling, simply because I want to. So go ahead and do what you want. Don’t let age come in the way.
Who is a Bengalurean who you think has aged well?
Bangalore International Centre director Ravichander: My choice is former chief justice MN Venkatachaliah. He was a towering judicial personality with charming old-world values of decorum in sync with his constitutional responsibilities. Post retirement, over the last 25 years he has found a way to impart his considerable wisdom and deep reading to audiences in India and overseas. He epitomises the traits of a generation gone by. They don’t make many like him anymore! He has achieved this by staying engaged on issues of the day. He draws inspiration from our ancient way of life. A few months ago, his talk on ‘What we owe each other’ at the BIC drove home the symbiotic nature of our relationships which define us humans.
What is special about Bengaluru for aging?
Koshy’s Cafe owner Prem Koshy: Bengaluru was always called pensioner’s paradise. It was a sanctuary. You came to Bengaluru and dropped all your pangas. Bengalureans have formed strong bonds across age groups. In Koshy’s, I have seen this happening. There was always a culture of walking, cycling, running in our gardens and parks, or rowing in our beautiful lakes. There is spirituality through the Sathya Sai Baba or Sri Sri Ravishankar ashrams. So we have it all. What I advocate is a few things: learn to breathe properly, have a zest for life, be in nature. Because the universe is listening to every thought of yours. It only gives back what you put more energy into. So share your love. And you will be loved in return.
(Shoba Narayan is Bengaluru-based award-winning author. She is also a freelance contributor who writes about art, food, fashion and travel for a number of publications.)