Friday, October 8, 2010

If 16 is sweet, 62 is svelte

This appeared in The Hindu
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Evening is the new De
She grows old but refuses to age. That's Shobhaa De for you — prolific author, one-time editor, long ago model but all-time icon. She turned 60 around the same time India celebrated its 60th Independence Day, and that's when she came out with “Superstar India”, a saucily appropriate title to sum up the parallel she was drawing between her personal experiences and the trajectory of a young nation.
And now at 62, she has turned to more personal matters. In her recently published “Shobhaa at Sixty: Secrets of Getting it Right at Any Age” (Hay House India), she looks back at her own six decades and shares advice about enjoying one's time as a senior citizen. Advice is never welcome if it comes from someone who has done everything right the first time round. Luckily, the author is frank about her own mistakes and drawbacks, and in coming to terms with them inspires others to be as frank. In this e-mail interview, the Mumbai-based author answers questions on the concept of age and ageing in her own sweet-62 style.

Do you think traditionally in Indian urban society people didn't feel the pressure to remain young as they do now? After all, there was a pattern to life — studies, marriage, job, children, grandchildren. Within that, growing old was accepted, just as it was accepted that women never got to retire. Yet there was no superwoman tag to live up to.
What an interesting perspective! But you must remember, the mortality rate for women used to be very high those days. Most didn't survive beyond 50! Today, we eat better, live smart, are fitter — it's a worldwide phenomenon. The old pattern is no longer applicable. Women have broken through the mould. But yes, the ridiculous superwoman tag has generated a new kind of neurosis and unfortunately, too many are succumbing to the pressures of looking ‘hot'!

In India, the official retirement age is 60 or 58, whereas people's lifespan is increasing. Do you agree that we have a fictionalised impression of 60 as being ‘old'? Is it something like teenagers' horror of turning 30, with its connotation of being boring and staid?
Well.... let's be realistic — 60 is not young! But 60 today is not the same as it was during my mother's era. Our mindsets have changed. Women view themselves differently... more positively. Sixty is no longer the end of the road. In fact, 60 can be liberating on several levels. I have never felt this free from pressures — certainly not when I was 30. There is a wonderful acceptance that comes with age. One more thing — age and ageing are two different stories. Women are victims of a society that pigeonholes them.

You write that women “over invest” in their physical selves, and often don't develop their inner lives at the same pace. With everyone trying to cover their grey hair, and with new brands available, the national hair colour seems to be auburn. How important do you feel it is for a woman to look good in the conventional sense — good figure, dressing snappily, etc?
These are really vanity issues. It is a matter of choice — to remain grey or not. I believe if a woman feels more confident about herself if she uses a suitable hair colour and camouflages the salt and pepper, so be it. The problem starts when women and men begin to obsess over their appearance, neglecting every other area of their lives. That can get unhealthy. But there is nothing wrong in looking after one's appearance in a sensible way. If you believe you look good, chances are you'll FEEL good too!

You have given some comforting advice about 60s being ‘me' time? What are the things you would like to do and are doing that you were not able to do before?
Frankly, I have doled out excellent advice that I believe in completely ... but don't always follow! My life is busier than it has ever been. I am always short of the one commodity that falls into the ‘priceless' category — time! I would love to attend summer courses on a stimulating campus where I'll be able to learn and interact with like-minded people. I'd love to grow a kitchen garden. And dance the tango — preferably in Buenos Aires.

Youth, as you have pointed out, is a time of insensitivity. Do you ever look back at experiences in your life and think you would have liked to do things differently had you then had the wisdom the years have gifted you?
Oh yes! Several instances of gauche conduct... impetuous decisions... idiotic behaviour. But really! Who needs ‘wisdom' at 20? I am a risk-taker. Have always been one. A certain amount of recklessness is essential in life — how dull it would be otherwise! Who needs ‘safe'?

Your prolific writing record and your self-confessed workaholism have us wondering what will next flow from your pen. Anything on the cards?
I am always working on something new. But ssssshhhh — let's not spoil the fun by discussing it!

24 comments:

lawyerjourno said...

It is quite a fact - Some women when reach to sexual worthlessness try to show that some worth is still remaining. When you have hit the wall and no one is looking you an attractive women from any angle; how can you consider yourself 'sweet.' Now what remains with cougars is boasting their financial independence and professional success!!

Neha said...

Great Interview!

Malvika said...

Nice interview....Could you please read this ?
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/102961/purr-enchantment.html

cmpershad said...

Good Evening to Evening icon :)

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@lawyerjourno W.r.t your profile @ blogger, you certainly are making this world a better place to live in by spewing venom. Really, what gives you the right to talk like that to someone who's lived a life? Learn some manners.

Harman said...

gr8 answeres..Justified!

Cooking Blog Indexer said...

Shobha De is 62!!! No way! Great interview...

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goodluck said...

Yhe interview is interesting. Both the questions and answers.
If only time rolls back. Not for gaining physical youthfulness, but to correct mistakes which hurt others and which haunt us forever.
The most annoying part of ageing is the time one has to invest to colour one's hair and other things.
Being busy is good, but being contemplative in a leisurely manner makes one a philosopher.
One will reach the end whether one runs, walks or simply stops. Each to his or her own.

sonal said...

Way to go gal!!

Pnrazdan said...

Excellent thoughts. I am 71 and have experienced all facets of life. I take old age as a vacation. One should not overstretch by work, physical activity or stress. The beauty of this part of life is the absolute freedom and unstressed life one can live. Make the most out of it by socialising,travel,internet,family chorus etc. It is wonderful to live in old age free of commitments, worries and responsibilities.

sharmila said...

Class and beauty you're blessed with

vijit said...

What a nice blog. I found it through google suddenly. I have a blog too but not like this one.

ruchi singh said...

As I create the write up on the larger than life - Shobha De I cannot help but admire her. Looking forward to see her in person at our Founder's Day function, and I do hope she likes the write up I do for her!!

Appu said...

Simi Garewal style?
Maybe hair style
The only difference:
- She always in white And you in black within the pic.

Jean said...

you go girl!!!!!

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Christine said...

Loved the interview and completely loved your pic - you looked way better than Danielle behenji!!! way to go :)

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blogger said...

Any age is a good age to be - all a part of the Book of Life ! If you live well , age is just a number .

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