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The age factor: Slowly, slowly catchy monkey

The author is a brand consultant with an interest in music, cricket, humour and satire
Published : Jun 18, 2019, 3:10 am IST
Updated : Jun 18, 2019, 3:10 am IST

As a general rule, the words ‘Confucius say’ prior to the actual quote will add credence, never mind whether Confucius actually said it or not.

Could have been another ancient Chinese philosopher, probably over 110 years old.
 Could have been another ancient Chinese philosopher, probably over 110 years old.

Man does not grow old. When he stops growing he becomes old. Chinese proverb.

At my age, and I shan’t be specific, the bones and the joints start foreshadowing incipient signs of creakiness. For long periods of time, particularly during one’s late forties and into the fifties, when the tell-tale symptoms first start to manifest themselves, you tend, as it were, to look the other way. Surely this can’t be happening to me. And if you glibly assume I have just dropped a hint as to what my age profile (that’s what they call it these days) might be, I could very well be having you on. Beware the proverbial red herring. I digress, which is also an age related symptom.

He keeps meandering. All over the place. Anyhow, age is only a number, as some smart aleck once said. Could have been another ancient Chinese philosopher, probably over 110 years old. I have never quite figured out why the immensely long-in-the-tooth Chinese have cornered the market on smart sayings and pithy homilies pertaining to the human condition and all-round wisdom. Longer wisdom teeth? I jest, but who knows with the inscrutable Chinese. Mind you, I am not complaining. Comes in handy when I am struggling to nail a suitable quote. As a general rule, the words ‘Confucius say’ prior to the actual quote will add credence, never mind whether Confucius actually said it or not.

Let’s get back to those wobbly joints. It’s when your wake-up alarm jangles alarmingly at six in the morning that, jolted into sitting bolt upright, the recalcitrant sleep lines deeply embedded around your eyes, which refuse to open anyway for at least three minutes, that’s when the knees first protest. You are advised not to jump out of bed instantly, else you could face some sort of breakdown. Take it gently. Sit for about two minutes and slowly stand up, and let the blood circulate freely. Your centre of gravity and sense of balance will right itself. You can now hobble to the toilet, there to conduct your ablutionary functions in a relaxed and contemplative manner. This is sound advice to all those who have passed their second or third flush of youth. Which could be anything above the age of 50. Speaking for myself, I am well past that seminal landmark, and a ripe candidate to take heed of such sensible precautions.

You will have observed that I continue to be cagey about my exact age. Funny thing, age. When you’re in your early teens you are desperate to overstate it. ‘I am almost twenty Pops, I demand a key to the flat.’ ‘Demand all you want. You are not yet 18, so there. Back home by eight, homework, dinner and to bed.’ As an enforcer of home discipline, that stricture made sense in the ‘70s. Today, the child is only too happy to be locked up in his or her bedroom, with a smartphone for a huggy pillow and a whole world of dubious entertainment for company. And the cyber chats, lest we forget.

I really must resist this temptation to keep veering off at a tangent. Again, it’s this age thing. Now where was I? Oh yes, creaky bones and how one deals with it. The condition includes cricks in the neck, back spasms and general catches that catch you unawares. Regular exercise is highly recommended, but you need to do it under proper guidance by a qualified physiotherapist.

That is exactly what I proceeded to do. I engaged a professional physio to pummel me into shape and advise me on the kind of exercise regimen I should diligently adhere to. Decent chap, my physio. When he asks me to touch my toes, and I am unable to stretch beyond my knee roll, he is very polite about it with an encouraging ‘Keep doing it Sir, and you will succeed.’ If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Fair enough. Unlike my P.T. Master in school, Mr. Vincent, who would howl mockingly, ‘This is a boys’ school, laddie. Can’t even climb that rope? My mum could do it in her sleep. Run round the field three times. Sissy!’ Hard man to please, old Vincy.

The other thing my physio was very particular about was that I should drink at least three litres of water a day. That’s three normal sized bottles. Is he kidding me? Sooner said than done. The best I can manage, with great difficulty, is two bottles. Three and my bladder decides to down tools. It’s all very well to say you need proper hydration, but drinking that much water entails my sitting at home all day, needing to visit the loo more times than I care to remember. At which point your family doctor mumbles something about prostate. And I am not sure all that water draining out of your system does not wash away vital chemicals which need to be retained. I fully intend seeking a second opinion.

Let’s get real. I am not training for the Olympics, nor am I representing India at the World Cup. My aims are modest, which is to get up early in the morning without sensing that earth tremors touching 8.5 on the Richter scale are about to engulf me. Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey. Another snappy one from the Chinese lexicon. I have no words of wisdom to offer on what you should or should not eat and how much alcohol is safe to consume daily.

Each to his own, as one’s constitution will allow. All that claptrap about two small pegs of hard liquor every evening being good for the heart is just a lot of bull. Perhaps a glass of red wine is beneficial (all those antioxidants) but I won’t say, ‘Cross my heart and hope to die.’ Why tempt the fates? Au contraire, I concur with the wise guy who said, ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.’ Confucius.

Tags: regular exercise, chinese lexicon, hard liquor