If you continue to live and not kick the bucket in a hurry, one day you will become old. Old age is inevitable. There are a number of things associated with old age - failing health, falling teeth, loss of hearing, balding, decreased physical fitness, forgetfulness, boredom and so on. These are well known and documented exhaustively. What I find funny are some hidden aspects of old age which no one wants to talk about.
As we grow old, we slowly develop unusual ways to communicate with our friends. This new development afflicts one and all in some fashion or the other.
We tend to become repetitive in our social interactions and sometimes narrate the same incident or anecdote over and over again. There is a friend of mine ‘Repeat Raja ‘who joins me occasionally on my walk. I have heard his narrative on how he repaired a boat engine some thirty years back, at least a dozen times. I know all the details of the repair, the leaky ‘Gearbox Lube Oil’, why Vertex Ratchet is better than ‘Montstar 17 mm Two Way Wheel Spanner” etc. If I should even dare to try and change the subject, he brazenly tells me not to distract him till he completes his narration and the story continues. His repertoire includes many exciting and captivating stories such as – “How he transferred 243 tons of Furnace Fuel Oil in 6 hours flat (1974)”, “Exchanging used oil for prawns in the Indian Ocean (1977)”, “Boiler cleaning and black soot” (1980) and so on.
Recently, my friend and I drove long distance by car to attend our common friend’s 70th birthday party. This one loves to hold forth on some obscure topic and talk endlessly in a monotonous tone. There is no escape from this onslaught. Unlike the repetitive kind, ‘Boring Babu’ embarks on a fresh topic each time he pontificates. This time, I had to endure him for more than an hour, while he educated me on ‘Sewage Treatment Plants’ and ‘Composting’. Fortunately for me, the host served lots of chilled Tuborg beer and loads of meat for lunch. The return journey was extremely calm and peaceful as we snored our way home.
Another kind is the one who offers unsolicited advice on almost every subject. Some of us sit in the garden in our colony after the end of our evening sabbatical and exchange pleasantries and indulge in some harmless banter. I happened to mention that I was to attend a function the next day in a nearby locality and was travelling by ‘Uber’. This was sufficient to trigger an unsolicited response from my friend ‘Helpful Hari’. He then went on to dole out advice (unsolicited, of course) on why I should not use ‘Uber’ and instead take my own car. Unfortunately the conversation did not end there. He went on to explain the entire 12Km route in great detail, with all the turns, road names, land marks, one way streets etc.
The next morning I went by ‘Uber’.
Then there is the harmless variety. This one gets easily distracted and mid way through the narration he forgets what he was saying and slips into silence. I am still in a state of suspense regarding the final outcome of his dog biting his mother in law. He is yet to narrate the ending of the fateful night when he returned home past midnight full of spirit from the local club. ‘Forgetful Frankie’ is yet to complete any narration in a single attempt.
The next is the ‘Hop Skip and Jump’ variety. He will start in right earnest, “Pubs you must hear this funny incident, I was returning from the airport and … talking about airport taxis, we took a Toyota Etios… Roads are in such pathetic state …GPS is not for India…I must say this new phone 1 Plus 3 is damn good… see the hospital on the right, this is where my grandson was born … and he continues to HSJ through the entire conversation.
The worst one is ‘Hypochondriac Haridevan’. He starts “Hey, not met you for a long time, how are you?” Then you make a tame but conventional comeback, “I am fine, what about you?”This one statement is sufficient to trigger a massive response. “I am not well, in fact the doctors have told me to stay indoors as I am just recovering from ‘allergic bronchitis’, added to this I have ‘Gout’ and not forgetting sleep ‘apnea’ at night. Just about the time you have recovered from this medical impact, he starts again,” be careful of this strange skin rash my neighbor has got – OMG, it’s all over him, to top it all it’s contagious, I too may have contacted this”. That when I do an Usain Bolt on him.
I do not know what diet they eat at home but it makes them go daggers at all things they see and hear. ‘Angry Arun’ is let out of the cage every day from 5PM to 8PM. He occupies a vantage point in the park and methodically stalks his prey. Once in his deadly grasp there is no escape, you have to hear all his cribs and complaints till some other unsuspecting prey happens to fall into the trap. Hopcoms vegetables are rubbish, Nandini milk is adulterated, security staff is useless, dhobi requires a kick, my neighbor stinks and so on ad nauseam.
And finally it’s ‘Silent Satya’ who takes the pride of place. He joins us regularly on the bench in the park and does not utter a single word. He has no news to relate, gossip to narrate or information to share with others. His stony silence is extremely exasperating to say the least. Yet he sits through the entire evening – physically at least.
I am very sure I belong to some group or the other for believe me, there is no escape from this syndrome unless we try really hard. Even then, we may just come up with a new category at best…which someone else will probably write about.
It’s up to you to see where you belong.
Till then, cheers and happy reading!