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Archive for January, 2009

Going over the hill to push up the daisies

January 27, 2009 8 comments

A word of advice to those of you contemplating a move back to India: if you’re on the “wrong” side of 30, you should be prepared to be reminded of your advanced years – over and over and over.

 

In September 2007, while my wife Deepa and I planned my family’s move back to India with a certain amount of trepidation and angst that usually accompanies any foray into the unknown, I foresaw a variety of issues I would have to contend with. One that completely escaped me was the “age” issue. While not a whippersnapper, at 34 I was fairly certain my best days were yet to come and that the proverbial foot wasn’t in its anointed position in the grave, yet . I guess someone forgot to hand me the script before I moved back.

 

I once read somewhere that roughly 70% of the Indian population was under 30 according to the last census and educated projections thereafter. My first day at work in Bangalore indicated that if my colleagues’ ages were anything to go by, this was a gross underestimation.  Youthful exuberance (and a collective collegiate hangover) was all around – in the form of boisterous birthday parties for colleagues (where perfectly good cake was thrust into the unfortunate victim’s face – a practice peculiar to India, I guess?), in the rambunctious bonhomie that was so much a part of lunch every day and of course, in the numerous courtship/flirting sessions I frequently observed in progress in coffee corners 🙂.

 

My many friends (and this list includes my wife  :-)) will likely break their necks nodding in vociferous agreement – when it comes to being exceedingly dense, I’m a natural. Owing to the fortunate happenstance of my manager being on vacation the week I started work in Bangalore, I flew in under the radar, so to speak. I spent a week trying to make friends of my new (and very young) colleagues. Aware of, and wishing to avoid the reputation for snobbery that returning Indians have rightfully acquired, I insinuated myself into their lunch gatherings and birthday celebrations in order to fit in with the esprit de corps – and doing a damn good job of it too, I thought. As time has gone by, the scales have been ripped off my eyes. In hindsight, I can see that what the script called for, was for me to play the elder statesman, whilst looking indulgently avuncular from a distance. My younger colleagues have spared little effort in illuminating the reality of my dotage. In one instance, one of the younger girls in the group, after having read the introductory email from my manager welcoming me into the group, and trying to justify the rashness of his decision to hire me, by pointing to my long tenure in the industry – exclaimed “I had no idea you were sooooo old!!”. Daft as I was, I simpered modestly, sucked in my stomach, puffed out my chest, squared my shoulders and interpreted this to mean I looked amazingly young. Alas, I now know that she was expressing some measure of disbelief and a greater measure of disdain at the fact that a senior citizen like myself could have so brazenly joined the festivities clearly meant for a younger crowd. Another sobering instance of ageism came to light during a recent lunch with my colleagues, when someone remarked on the fact that I follow a distinctly un-South-Indian diet by not eating any rice. I should have hotly denied this all too-true observation – instead, I sat on a gastronomic high horse and extolled the virtues of eschewing simple carbs. One of the pretty young things around the table understood my drift all too well when she nodded appreciatively and chimed in: “At your age… you really have to be careful”. At your age… – OUCH! Cut to the quick by her brutal honesty – and in no small measure because she was very pretty – I asked her just how old she thought I was, to deserve the “at your age” put-down. “Well, you must be at least 30”, she ventured – trying to soften the blow through some good old-fashioned flattery, no doubt. I guess 30 looks very far away when you’re just out of college and all of 21.

 

As the weeks at work have turned into months, I’ve received many other similar rejoinders at not acting my age. The most recent one was when one of the young ‘uns expressed surprise at my enthusiasm for Facebook and said – “Wow, I thought Facebook was more of a youth thing…”. Hey! – I am “youth”… or youth-ish at least… sigh… what’s the use. Sorry Facebook – through my hosannas, I’ve single-handedly ensured that a lot of potential users are now turned off – they aren’t going to use something that a lot of us geezers are singing praises about.

 

So, forget all you’ve heard about 40 being the new 20  or any other such combination of descending numbers. 30 is still the old 60 here in Bangalore and you’d do well to remember it.

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Categories: Musings Tags: ,

Unreal Estate

January 6, 2009 4 comments

Unreal Estate

 

‘Tis a harrowing tale I now tell

I’ll be able to laugh yet, if all goes well.

A tale of blatant identity theft,

And of the land it has left me bereft.

 

It all started in ‘96

With my dad needing his real-estate fix.

A piece of land he did buy

When the prices weren’t as high.

 

Fast-forward to ‘07,

Oh my! The prices here are touching heaven.

Dad wants to sell the land now,

Thinks he’ll make a profit, and how.

 

Dad asked a buddy of his to help him out

Got referred to his son – a lazy layabout.

My dad then committed a sin most cardinal,

Gave the rascal some documents – alas, all original.

 

What happened next? Take a guess…

The bachelor’s son sold the land, he doth confess

Impersonated me in front of the registrar

Doesn’t look as good as me, the cur, by far.

 

Signed away my rights to the land

And took his ill-gotten gains in hand.

His foul deed a week later came to light,

Boy was I itching for a fight!

 

With the police I am now well acquainted

With fingerprint ink my hands have been tainted

Running pillar to post, justice I seek

Cavorting with cops and robbers, week after week

 

The saga shows no sign of ending

I fear the income tax bill may still be pending

But I’m damned if I’m paying capital gains,

When all I’m left with are aches and pains!

Categories: Nonsense Verse Tags: , , ,