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Random Forays: 50 is a number to celebrate

As this column completes a half century, here’s looking at the topics that it covered, the critical feedback of the readers that spurred ideas, and a promising future.

punjab Updated: Feb 04, 2018 13:01 IST
Vivek Atray
Vivek Atray
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Column,HT Column,Random Forays
The real value of 50 is understood by students who obtain the minimum of 50 per cent marks after great effort, and thus qualify for higher studies, since 50 percent is often the minimum qualifying mark. (HT File Photo)

As I sit down to write the 50th piece of this column which has seen many varied hues and is aptly titled Random Forays, a sense of celebration is bound to creep in. “Why?” is the question that you might ask, and perhaps justifiably so. But according to me 50 is an under-rated number, a number worth much more pageant and glory than it usually begets.

Those of us who turned 50 years of age in recent times would realise the significance of it a little more. The age of 50 comes along with a long sigh which could mean various things, and mixed feelings of the kind that few other milestones in life can generate. How many human beings have lived to be a hundred? A minuscule few. Most humans never get to that century mark in real life, and 50 is the next best bet for them to feel that they have ‘arrived’ at a landmark destination in their journey.

A 50th birthday thus becomes a cause for much bonhomie and a shower of golden wishes. A golden wedding anniversary is even more momentous. The couple in question has somehow found the wherewithal, the fortitude and the inner strength to withstand the tests of time, and to remain together despite the pressures that circumstances keep throwing up.

For such a twosome, the number 50 is an occasion to look back and laugh, often with a tear or two in the old eyes.

Some other aspects of life where we encounter the half century number can be found in cricket, in our wallets and in our mathematics marks! The last mentioned example is true for only a few of us, of course. The real value of 50 is understood by students who obtain the minimum of 50 per cent marks after great effort, and thus qualify for higher studies, since 50 percent is often the minimum qualifying mark.

Everything in life is relative they say, and thus the value of 50 cannot be underestimated for those who struggle to achieve even that many marks. A topper who is used to scoring 100 on 100, almost at will, will never understand the plight and mindset of the laggard who barely manages to scrape through.

And we have never given much weightage to the poor fifty rupee note in our country. When the bluish hundred rupee note was considered to have some value, it would always overshadow its pinkish sibling. And now that the hundred rupee note has been reduced to the level of a ‘tenner’ the poor fifty rupee note is almost like small change. Yet, for someone who cannot afford more and can actually buy a couple of meals a day for this sum, the significance of fifty rupees is immense.

As a milestone, the number fifty is glorified in cricket a little more these days, with T20 bashes shortening everything and even necessitating the acknowledgment of even a 25 run innings in a batsman’s career statistics. Thus when centuries are few and far between, a half ton is worth its weight in gold.

Of course, many a time we are confronted in our lives by a 50-50 situation, one that requires a decision to be taken one way or the other. It is said that tossing a coin in the air is a good idea at such times. When the coin is in the air, one instantly knows what the heart really wants!

This column has covered distinct realms of life in its journey as are denoted by feel-good write ups like ‘Good Looks Do Matter, But Not Much’ and a social media analysis in ‘Waiting For The Blue Ticks’. Also some poignant ones like ‘The Departure Lounge Can Wait’ and ‘Lost Lives Are Not Merely Numbers’. Even some entertaining ones like ‘The Vanishing Art of Dialogue’ and ‘Falling In Love With Cricket Again’.

It is the freedom to explore the quaint human experience in a rapidly transforming world which keeps this columnist going. And it is the warm as well as critical feedback of readers which helps to spur further ideas and forays.

Onward then, to more and better. It is indeed time to take fresh guard, as Sunny Gavaskar would do!

vivek.atray@gmail.com

First Published: Feb 04, 2018 13:00 IST