By Kulbhushan Kain
I don’t remember being aware of going past 50 years of age and being afraid of “being old or ageing”. For that matter – not even going past the age of 60! I remember celebrating my 50th birthday in great pomp and visiting our family deity at Naina Devi in Punjab. I remember celebrating my 60th in a plush 7 Star Hotel in Dubai!
However, there are things I miss about being younger – chiefly the ability to pull off all nighters, trekking to high altitudes, chasing the cricket ball over green turf and throwing it back with such power that it brought out dust from the wicketkeeper’s gloves. I miss taking on the young “pretender” to my crown – my son – at the squash courts and sometimes not allowing him even a single point! I miss being surrounded by women who thought I was attractive, and I wish I had the eyesight, hearing and memory that I had 10 years ago…
I miss friends who have passed away, but I’m glad that I got to befriend them, at least, in their journey of life.
I miss the Dehradun of the 60s and 70s. I miss the city with “green fences and grey hair” that one doesn’t see in Dehradun these days. I miss the forests that have been denuded. For me, Dehradun is about a lost childhood in the beautiful suburb of Clement Town. I miss taking a bus ride through the lazy and traffic free roads from home to school or going in our Baby Austin car (MYA 9099!!) for shopping in Paltan Bazaar and Astley Hall. I miss Prem Singh, our domestic help, bringing us fresh hot rajma chaawal during the lunch break, peppered with desi ghee made from the cream of the milk of our own buffaloes. I can still get a whiff of it.
I also miss playing cricket the way it was played when I was young. I miss the lovely cricket grounds – the Rangers’ Ground, the Skinners, the RIMC Cricket Ground, those of St Joseph’s Academy, Welham Boys Preparatory School…
I miss my school and college and the way we romanced, which the cell phones, the computers, the iPads, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp have killed these days. We had to find ways to meet secretly! It required courage to say “I love you” rather than paste an emoticon of a beating red coloured heart!
I miss the great aura and spell that the actors and musicians of the sixties cast on us. If you see some of the early movies of actors like Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Shashi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Sharmila Tagore, Saira Bano, Gregory Peck, Doris Day, Elizabeth Taylor, Dilip Kumar, Paul Newman… you will agree that they were a sight for the Gods to see. Now, everyone looks the same. They walk the same way, they are built in the same way. I miss the great variety of the past stars.
Lest you think I am a typical “ageing and decadent” human being, let me tell you that I am happier and more comfortable than I’ve been at any point in my life. I have a wonderful and pretty wife who is empowered. I have watched my son grow into an amazing man, who is so steady that I wonder whether he was ever a teenager. I am proud of my ability to teach and to motivate. I am proud about the fact that people seek me out to speak on special occasions and at seminars! I have worked and learnt from “celebrities”, and know some of them very closely. I also have real and true friends. I’ve been able to do things I care about – speak freely, travel, write, eat and drink at the best restaurants, keep pets. Sometimes, I work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and yet walk my customary 12 kms (15,000 steps on Fitbit) to test my energy and stamina! I love my grey hair and thank God that they haven’t thinned yet!
Life has been kind. There has been very little I haven’t experienced. I have experienced physical pain, emotional trauma, loss, failure and, at times, life has made me feel small. But God also gave me more in terms of luxury, joy, ecstasy, success and recognition. In my job as a school educator – the kids made me feel like a celebrity.
I have travelled the world, met and seen amazing places and people – mostly post 50 years of age!
I wish time hadn’t sped so fast. Sometimes, I wish I had enjoyed more on the journey, and worried much less.
What does the future hold for me?
I don’t know. I don’t brood about it because, as a schoolboy who went frequently to Napoli Restaurant on Rajpur Road, I used to put a 25 paise coin into the jukebox to hear Doris Day sing –
“Que Sera Sera,
Whatever will be will be,
The future is not ours to see
Que Sera Sera”
Those lines got embedded in my psyche!
(Kulbhushan Kain is an award winning educationist with more than 4 decades of working in schools in India and abroad. He is a prolific writer who loves cricket, travelling and cooking. He can be reached at