Eighteen Going On Eighty!

What is 18… or, let’s say, what is 80! Almost the same! It’s just a matter of juggling a zero with one! I would like my Math teacher – Mr. K T, to see me now juggle these figures. I could hardly do addition, subtraction, very rarely multiplication and even more rarely, division. I am no better now at age eighty! But I recently came up with a formula, somewhat like Einstein’s theory E=mc2, on time dilation. There is hardly any difference between being eighteen and eighty. I am 18 going on 80!

Mentally, I am sharp (?), fun loving, prone to playing pranks, mostly lazy when it comes to doing chores… and I love to be in company of pretty ladies. I try to capture, what the Germans call, ‘Zeitgeist’ or the spirit, the essence of the time when I was 18, now that I am 80. Truth is, most man hardly mature beyond the time they were teenagers – we remain Peter Pans all our lives – albeit with growing aches and pains.

With age, a chap grows wise… a bloody myth, I say! I am 18, going on eighty and just as ‘duh’ as I was six decades and two years ago! There was a time when at, just a drop of 50 paisa coin in the jukebox, I would be on my number-9 feet – dancing away with total disregard to my partner’s pretty feet. Now that I’m 18 going on eighty, I still love dancing – if you can call it that! I shuffle my arthritic feet with the same vigor and the same disregard for my partner’s feet!
Nowadays seeing younger guys in white flannels, or wherever color uniforms they wear, I wonder how they can stand under the hot Indian sun – whacking a ball or chasing it. I’m talking about the game of cricket, which George Bernard Shaw, once defined, as “A game played by 11 fools and watched by 11,000 fools.” Now that I am 18 going on 80, the number of players has remained constant, but the fools have multiplied considerably.

The sports world is divided mostly into two factions – one half comprises the wild and crazy soccer fans, the other half are the cricket fanatics. Our research department at PT has come up with a startling fact. Besides cricket and the soccer fans there is a miniscule group of about 60,000 who are impervious to the aforesaid two sports. No other activity can penetrate their minds, collective or otherwise. Their time is spent in discussing about the time when Team India team had at least three or four Parsi players. I still reminisce Umrigar and Mody and Contractor and Engineer. I still love the game, but it is now limited to watching in the cool shade of the pavilions or gymkhanas or on TV, sipping tall iced drinks. That’s coz I am wiser now that I am zesty 18, going on 80. I think the Chinese are smarter – preferring to play ping-pong rather than getting roasted in the sun.

When I was 18, I used to love dressing in jeans and t-shirts, to my mother’s disgust. Those were the days when even promenading at Marine Drive, called for a necktie as the minimum necessity. Mostly, Parsis who infested this promenade would don their Sunday best. Jeans were not a part of gentleman’s attire. For weddings and Navjotes, the dress code was even more rigid. A young man would be in white ‘Ducks’ (trouser material en mode then), duglee and a skull cap for boys and Phenta or Paghree for the male Parsi species. The jeans were limited to picnics and other such jamborees. Today, this form of dressing is de rigueur anywhere and for all occasions. I support it so long as it is not the torn or patched up ‘designer’ version, costing a bomb. Please excuse me – as I am 18 going on 80, I tend to find such attires’ incongruity of styles, grotesque and ludicrous.

Having just entered the New Year, the month is rife with efforts (in vain) trying to live the ‘New Year Resolutions’ – I have always broken them all – be it at 18 or 80! The only constant is the ‘Auld Lang Sine’ song that I remember since forever… and true to its words, often with moist eyes, think of all my friends dancing away in heaven, into the New Year, blessing us mortals – whether 18 or 80! Here’s hoping for more peace in a strife-ridden world and more of Love, Peace and Joy everywhere!

Dara M Khodaiji
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