I’m only as old as I want to be

The husband is an ardent believer in the “age is just a number” concept and a steadfast practitioner of the “you’re only as old as you want to be” theory. It helps that he is constantly proving this to be true by behaving half his age when he chooses, like when it comes to doing chores and errands around the house; and swinging all the way to the other end of the spectrum when the situation calls for it, like when we go out partying and beg him to push his bedtime by a few hours. Of course he rarely agrees. Conveniently declaring he is “too-old-for-this” when he can’t fight his sleep any longer, but finding mysterious reserves of youthfulness when it comes to packing in that extra slice of chocolate cake that he could really do without.

It’s probably why even though I have always had mostly older, male friends when I was single, our life together has drawn a steady crowd of younger, energetic and youthful company. I’m no good at this see-saw business. And I choose to stay pretty much child-like ish. It could also be that the larger part of out years as a couple, we have been in Goa surrounded by precisely that kind of company. And while we’re loud and boisterous hang-out company, we’re also the people our friends come to with conversations about life, career moves, marriage and other issues of settling down. It’s a bit like enjoying the best of both worlds.

As we drove home from dinner yesterday the husband looked visibly bored and drained from an evening spent with men his age, but far older in their heads. While I was fairly bright eyed and happy at an evening spent in company refreshingly different from the kind I usually enjoy.

“It’s nice to do this once in a while,” I said, having fully understood the perks of being a wallflower. The odd ones out, in a gathering of people mostly in the next phase of life. The phase we find ourselves still comfortably distanced from. The phase we will probably never fully embrace, in the way Indian societies expect us to.

“So nice to be around women once in a while,” I confessed to the husband, “It makes me realise how all my life I’ve almost always been surrounded by boys.”

The husband shushed me, very matter-of-factly, “Yeah because that’s your style. You don’t do chicita or aunty-party.” And because it is in my nature to compulsively over-think, ponder over and analyze such statements, I thought about it.

We were at a birthday dinner yesterday And once the typical social pleasantries were exchanged, drinks handed out and the port wine began to warm my insides, I couldn’t help but notice that unlike the usual settings of clinking glasses punctuated by loud guffaws amid spirited chatter, yesterday the sound of a child yelping in excitement was the loudest, fast drowning out everything else. Punctuated only by the shoes the child had on. The funky kind that go poink-poink-poink, with every step the baby took.

When said funky shoes are on the feet of a cherubic baby who has just discovered the joys of walking, you quickly go from cooing at every adorably-unsteady, but determined step he takes, to trying your level best to zone out the endless symphony of poink-poink-poinkpoinkpoink-poink-POINK-POINK-poink-poinkpoinkpoink-POINK-poink that fills the room around you.

I looked around me. While each one of us was around more or less the same age (28-35), give or take a few years; and had enough basic similarities (having left behind homes, families and friends in other Indian cities and moved to Goa for work; sharing a professional background in communication/advertising/design field) to bond over; almost every one else (except us) in the room were either already in the “next phase” of life or desperately trying to get there. I’m talking about babies, of course. The favourite Indian hallmark of being “settled”. Babies seriously alter social dynamics. Between married couples, between them and other couples, and in larger gatherings too.

That was some seriously unfamiliar territory for us. Many of my friends have been married for years and some have had babies, but my immediate social circle has always been filled with boisterous boys, mostly single, and our idea of hanging out has always been unorganised fun, with lots of backslapping, guffawing, vehement conversation and quite unlike the situation we were in yesterday. But here’s the surprising change. I quite enjoyed myself.

It was refreshing to be around women, for one. It was nice not to be amongst the oldest people in the gathering, for a change (we were probably the youngest couple around). And it was even nicer to be placed in that wonderful cusp; with one foot firmly stuck in the dregs of my 20s and everything that comes with it, and the other teetering into the fringes of the 30s that are soon going to come upon me.

Despite being surrounded by fathers fawning over their children, mothers who sought kinship in discussing the woes of playschool, vegetable prices, and travelling in the rain, and the incessant poink-poink-poink that refused to fade away, I found myself feeling kind of pleased. But mostly in that wonderful way that a wallflower manages to. Of knowing I didn’t quite fit in, but managing to blend in. Not quite fully noticeable, but present enough to soak it all in with a smile.

It was refreshing. And even though I had very little to contribute to conversation, I managed to stay afloat and actually enjoy the evening. Enough to want to do it once every so and then. The old me would have spent those few hours tearing my hair out wondering when we could silently slip away. But it seems I might have learned to cleverly straddle age in that convenient way that the husband does. Maybe I have finally learned to enjoy the company of married 30-somethings, as much as I do the usual bantering bunch that I have come to love so much. Maybe when the next opportunity comes along, I will enjoy being around them and their kids too, without wishing for some peace and quiet. Maybe I’ve finally figured out the formula to be only as old as I want to be.

Except, next time, I’m going to subtly take those damned shoes off the babies’ feet first.


21 thoughts on “I’m only as old as I want to be

  1. :D Tiny got a pair of those as a gift on his first birthday from someone. They were promptly passed on to someone else!the theory of feeling younger in the company of youngsters totally makes sense! i feel like a paati these days cos the people i hang out with are ajjis and tathas and auntys and uncles!!!


    1. I think being in the company of younger/older people definitely plays a part in how you end up feeling over time. But I dont think it is the only thing that matters. I know you personally, and I know the child-like giggly girl you are, so you may FEEL like an ajji sometimes, but Im sure deep down you are not. Its just a questions of getting out of that zone maybe..


  2. I can do older people, not sure I would enjoy younger. Maybe just a tad younger would be okay.

    But lately I have been enjoying people who are out of my comfort zone. Like a couple of days ago I met this old uncle, friend of parents, and his son, who is my age but kind of fresh-faced and enthu. I actually enjoyed hanging out with them and having the kind of conversations you’d have in my parent’s drawing room.

    Although I’m in “that” stage of life, most of my friends aren’t. These days I’ve been itching to hang out more with people who are in “that” stage though. I don’t talk about my kids that much I can safely say, but the glazed look (which I was probably guilty of myself) when people ask how my kids are and then blank out has begun to infuriate.


    1. Hehe, see thats not on, no? When people feign interest? I genuinely love some of my friends kids and think I can spend hours with them and their kids and not feel bored/disinterested. But thats just with some people.

      This batch at the party was a new set, mostly people I had never even met before. Which brings me to your other point about lately enjoying people who are out of your comfort zone. My next post is about that actually..Because I am increasingly surprising myself with how outgoing I have become. I used to be (and still am to a large extent) all about the comfort zone, but over the last 6 odd months Iv sought out friendships with people I wouldnt normally try too hard with. Locally, its connected me to old friends and rekindled friendships, some with girls I couldnt have imagined I had anything in common with, some people in “that phase” like at the party I suggested some of us make plans to join a pottery class together, and most recently I made friends with a 70+ yr old couple and the husband and I are having drinks and dinner with them next week! This is really new and refreshing for me, so I get what you mean


  3. LOL! Poink-poink indeed!! You don’t even need to take off the shoes – there are little removable plastic pins at the side of the shoes that can be removed for instant relief. Trust me. There was a time when the only shoes available in Puttachi’s size were these Poink-poink shoes. I would throw away the pins the moment I bought the shoes.

    And have you seen those shoes that blink red and blue lights when the kid walks? You’ll beg for the poinky shoes if you experience those.


  4. Whhhhhy you would put those shoes on a kid I don’t know. I haven’t quite hit that stage yet in terms of parties (I’m one of the more “younger” ones to have a kid) so it’s still all good in terms of conversation and the right buzzed ratio. Also have a range of friends younger to my age so I’m kept relatively youthful because of that. But now half of them are married and gotten a little boring :P I can’t talk really – I am finding my own brain declining somewhat. I need to get out more lol.


    1. Im pretty sure hanging out with younger friends a lot keeps one “younger” (some people might disagree and call me downright childish, hee) but i know what you mean.

      And those shoes! God. I dont know why they would do that to the child and more importantly the rest of the crowd at the party!


  5. LOL! Poink-poink indeed!! You don’t even need to take off the shoes – there are little removable plastic pins at the side of the shoes that can be removed for instant relief. Trust me. There was a time when the only shoes available in Puttachi’s size were these Poink-poink shoes. I would throw away the pins the moment I bought the shoes.

    And have you seen those shoes that blink red and blue lights when the kid walks? You’ll beg for the poinky shoes if you experience those.


  6. dude i want to KILL those shoes. but otherwise i understand. i am surrounded by boisterous boys. even the ons my age, OA and his buddies, its always woooooo lets get SMASHED!!! which is why i love love love when i get to have a party where every gets pleasantly buzzed has dinner and a conversaiton and goes home. i can’t do PARTAI more than once a month and i depserately crave civilized sit around remember everything that happened evenings


    1. Dude are you sure youre not second me?! I want to ditto all that you said. We dont have the smashed till you cant remember anything parties too often. But mostly its just a lot of testosterone and silly me in the midst of it all. Sometimes i have to stop myself from eating drinking and sending like a boy. So it was nice to sit around with a drink get fuzzy and watch this poinkpoink tamasha and see how married-with-kids parties are so different. Full entertainment!


  7. Meera Parameswaran

    Loved the write-up, for one and I am known to be enjoying my self with people from the age range of 5 to 90 – so guess I am already there! As for you, good luck with it! ;)


  8. R

    I read the last paragraphs with rising alarm, until I came to the last line. All *is* well with the world. :p
    I think I know a little, what you mean. But this doesn’t always happen with me. So I thought about it and I realised I mostly have the other women to thank for it. Cos there are the ones that will talk about motherhood and babies and poop and diapers in a way that leave you completely fenced out of the conversation (and imagine, I am non- mommy and single. Killer combo) and then there is the other kind that will speak all but thankfully some more (I like to think of them as the ones that did not drown in the sea of mommy- hood and lose their identity) and never have you zone out of the conversation or the company.
    Enjoyed reading the parts about VC – funny and warm writing, like always! :)


    1. Hahaha the baby was adorable da. Ao damn cute. But those shoes were getting on my nerves. And how!

      Also, i totally get the women who lose themselves in mommyhood. I have the same peeve with those who lose themselves in new found love. I mean i can be happy for both, but really do you have to go and lose your own identity completely?!

      I think i was more comfortable with the novelty and rarity of the situation i was in rather than that exact situation I was in. Which is probably why i could do this only as often enough as it remains interesting to watch. To often would not be as interesting i suspect.


  9. LOL on the sound of the baby shoes…I agree..they can get really bugging after a while :)

    and its great that you enjoyed yourself in that gathering..most people who dont have kids often get bored when moms go on about playschool and potty training :)


    1. I cant say I enjoyed the conversation in particular, but more the experience of watching a situation that I am not usually exposed to. Which is probably why I wont be able to handle this too often. Once in a while, to be an observer, is okay i think :P


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