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These 6 People Will Change How You Perceive Old-Age Forever

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By Disha Pandey:

In India, we love to stereotype everything. We put labels on men, women, colour, marriage, mothers-in-law, women who “drink,” women who do not “drink,” men who stare, men who do not stare, Punjabis, Bengalis, Gujjars, Jatts and almost every one we can possibly stereotype. This seems to be a convenient claim for justifying our own actions, and this makes all of us prone to it. Lately, we have been questioning stereotypes of all sorts, but there still exists a stereotype that remains unquestioned – the act-your-age stereotype.

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There’s a nagging fear of getting old inside all of us, because we perceive old age as a phase of life, which is bereft of passion and fun. If an old lady wears a bright red saree, we call her “Buddhi Godhi Laal Lagaam.” If an old man tries to look funky, we say “Buddha Sathiya gaya hai”.

Is old-age really an end of your passions? I thought so too, before I met him.

I often feel that I have little time left in my life. I am 24, and I have huge ambitions – so huge that one life would fall short of time for fulfilling all of my dreams. So when I met this man at a family get-together, I was dumbstruck or rather profoundly amused by his personality.

A Germany returned 70-year-old business man with an exceptionally charismatic voice has returned to his childhood dream of acting and singing in the Hindi Biz industry. His ambitions are high and defy all the age stereotypes.

By the age of 60 – when it was time for him to sit back and relax with all the luxury that he had worked hard for, he decided to take a completely different route that requires courage for even those who are young. I happened to spend some time with this man, who proudly introduced himself as Raman Kapoor. He was dressed in a floral yellow shirt, which I made fun of  and subtly giggled telling my cousin about the absurd fashion sense this man seemed to have.

As I discovered the real man behind that oddly vibrant form, I even started liking his weird yellow shirt. Maybe, it was just his age that made me find it inappropriate and if Ashton Kutcher was wearing the same thing, then I would have probably drooled all over him. I was surprised at how he had changed my perception of age in just a little over an hour.

I discovered that this man was everything we dissociate old-age with. He sings without a hint of old age in his voice (his latest song is Maula, and I love it). He acts with passion. He works hard for finding new roles, he does whatever befitting roles he gets and in this way, he works towards fulfilling his dream. Like a true fighter, when he has every option and reason for surrendering and giving in to the convenient option of relaxing and holidaying in whichever part of the world he wants to, he has decided to pursue his dream.

He loves his wife with a passion that even we – the young people – lack. He still meets his old school friends to play a match of football during the weekends. In this phase of his life he has an aim and he is striving towards it, while living his life to the fullest. I no longer fear aging because I know that I will not let myself be overpowered by the stereotypical view of old-age, especially when there are so many people in the world, who are flouting all the social conventions related to ageing and old-age. I have compiled a small list of such unsung heroes, apart from Raman Kapoor, who is the original inspiration behind my research.

1. A 61 year old pole dancer.
Greta Pontarelli

2. A 78 Year Skateboarder
Lloyd Kahn

3. Breaking The world Record in Cycling at the age of 102
Robert Marchand

4. 100 Year old Industrial Climber
Doris Long

5. 61 year old Multi-Career Woman
Cindy Joseph

So, when I saw what these people are doing, I thought to myself, “Why do we fight age?  Why not embrace old age as just another phase of life? Why make fun of old folks trying to live a life on their own terms? If we fight for young women’s right to dress as they want to, why can’t we just let old people have the same right without being judged?”

If we have the right to choose our career and relationships in our 20s, then old people should have the right to choose the same without worrying about how the society would react. Let’s break the age stereotype. Let’s start from the adorable oldies around us.

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  1. Frank Canna

    Thank you, Disha so much for sharing your very well written first published article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every word. You have a true gift for expressing your thoughts. Looking forward to many more up-lifting articles!

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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