by Dr. Madhav Prabhu
The only figure that is true is that of age, I mean for men, women don’t age. We grow up, we age and we mature. Men grow up and when I say this I am sure many women may not agree with me, ” but we do grow up, even though our hearts remain young”. That’s the conflict that men remain in denial with all their lives ” an ever-young heart in an aging body”.The most difficult time for men, however, is the middle ages. You know the term “Dhobhi ka kutta, na gharka na ghat ka “, well that is the caricature of a middle-aged man, he neither has the exuberance of youth not the maturity of old age, its a nightmare coming to terms with the fact that young age is going by and you can’t catch it.
By definition, middle age dawns at forty-five, but the life expectancy of an ordinary Belgaumite is in tune with the national average of around seventy years, so let’s assume middle age is around forty. I don’t mean to hurt someone by calling them middle-aged too early, but you need to wake up and smell the coffee when you are forty.
I guess the first symptom of middle age is the fact that you are called an “uncle”, one word that makes you feel like hanging off the cliff. To the middle-aged, uncle feels like a fungal disease, once you have it, it never goes, it itches but you can’t scratch in public, you are embarrassed about it but can’t show, it hurts you where it should not.
I guess if I had known the word hurts someone so much, I would not have used it so often when I was small. Your neighbor’s kids, your friend’s kids, your sibling’s kids, the watchman, the vegetable vendor take extreme pleasure in calling you an uncle. It hurts most when young college goers say it, especially the girls. The college guys say it merely to impress upon the girls that they are younger to you. But eventually you do come to terms with it I guess, and you are in the phase when people call you uncle and you call others uncle, it’s the time when uncle is the most painful word you will hear in your life.
This is the phase in life when your schedule goes as per someone else’s plan, you just have to fit into it. You wake up so you are in time to get your kids to school. Your breakfast, lunch, and dinner are dictated by your wife’s mood and daughters choice, you work at your bosses mercy, whims and fancy, you shop as per your wife’s shopping list, you party when your friends can convince their wives, you eat, you drink, you live to the mercy of everyone around you. It is this hopeless age group that we will shed some light on today. There is this funny Facebook challenge going around these days and aunties around the world are making futile efforts to show just how they have changed for the better. Sometimes we feel like telling them that in ten years it is only your weight that’s now a little positive.
Let us first understand the changes that occur with the poor victim of middle age. Ordinarily, there is some hair loss, well that is if you put it in simple terms. On a second thought hair loss is not that simple. The male of every species is at a constant struggle with time to look attractive to the world. In birds the feathers, in lions the mane, in insects the colors and inhuman the hair are meant to attract, and losing it is a big insult to the idea of being young.
Although they say bald men are sexy and bald men are never poor you can walk around Khade Bazaar and you can easily see the exceptions. Being bald is not easy, you constantly try to hide the patch of skin on your scalp, you grow hair in the sides, you wear a cap, but it’s like love, you can’t show it, you can’t hide it. Then you have your friends who will constantly advise you about the virtues of a hair transplant.
It’s time your memory also takes a jog, initially you don’t notice it but then it becomes a norm. You tend to forget names at first, your colleagues, your friends and sometimes your better half. Then you forget the things to do, anniversaries, birthdays, phone numbers and so on. It’s not actually intentional but people tend to never understand. The eyes also tend to get a week, you get the traditional “Chalshi cha Chasma”, the perfect 6/6 vision Derrick could identify beautiful women from miles away is now history. There is trouble seeing people and people can easily take you for a ride.
Then the tummy makes its grand entrance and your pants become uncomfortable. Some wise man once said, the tummy is like squeezing a toothpaste, you can get the paste out but you can’t get it back in. You start everything possible, start going to gym, diet, give up on everything you love but nothing works, relentlessly the tummy just buldges more and more. So with a receding hairline, a poor memory, poor eyesight and a bulging waistline, we have the middle-aged person, who for obvious reasons is irritable and much short on temper.
Now that we know what happens to the middle-aged man we need to understand his struggles.
His first struggle is with technology; Technology changes every day, young men are tech savvy, they keep in tune with what’s happening, middle-aged just don’t have the time, most of the investments of the young in technology is courtesy of the parents, the problems start for middle age when you have to earn to buy your latest iPhone. Money is never adequate and salaries don’t grow unless you are in the government service. It is time you switch over to a cheaper phone. You can walk around Ramdev Galli and see that young and elderly have I phones, the poor middle ages stick to Samsung. The struggle does not end here, its even more embarrassing when seven – eight-year-olds come to you and teach you a lesson or two, I guess it hurts your ego more than anything else that even a small child is more tech savvy than you.”Uncle is very easy they say “, and uncle is all red-faced. You are a hapless softy with no soft skills.
The next struggle is at the job, at forty you are in the middle of the ladder. You have an ever pestering, demanding boss at the top who expects your every effort to be superhuman and will set you impossible goals to achieve and at the lower end you have your juniors who will never do anything to your satisfaction. Your happiness is subject to both the sides of the ladder. The job is like your second wife now, when young wives look beautiful and so do jobs, but in the middle ages, you always find the job and wife of others more beautiful. Getting up and going to the job is a pain, your tummy does not allow you. You tend to get late and the least you do is blame the traffic and the morchas at Chennamma. Actually the road is your best bet, you can take out all your frustration from home and office on the traffic rule breakers, I never feel offended by middle-aged men abusing at signals, poor them where else can they raise their voice they don’t dare in front of wives, bosses don’t allow them and politicians don’t listen.
Middle-aged men find solace in the gym. It’s not easy getting yourself to the gym early in the morning, the body is too tired. Being the new uncle in the gym your only happiness is that everyone calls you sir, wishes you and gives you an artificial smile, you have a personal trainer since you can afford him, and he is bent upon seeing that you don’t come the next day, putting you under all sorts of stress. Little boys and girls around you remind you of your days of glorious past, for a moment you are back in the company of angels. Then again you may tend to get a little carried away on the treadmill or with the weights and then mess up with your back. The back actually becomes your enemy, aches, pains, sprains and as a result, you will have to rest all the time.
Yet somehow to avoid being called an uncle, to try and put that tummy inside, to try and build up that ever ending stamina, middle-aged men never give up on the gym. Yoga, swimming, running, jumping, middle age men try everything, but time is running against them.
The next challenge for middle-aged men is with food. Food is Devine retreat for every emotion, tension hogging, sweet tooth, spice tonic all these are emotional people. Food is the only thing that gives pleasure to the middle ages. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach they say. In middle ages, however, men are kept away from food to keep his heart safe. Everything that we ever tasted and loved becomes restricted on diet charts. Suddenly everyone seems to be interested in preventing a heart attack. Your wife allows you only oats, your tea is cut down, ice cream, nonveg is off the menu. Alcohol goes off the table. Your taste buds undergo atrophy and your emotions are hypertrophied. All this torture and you as told its all for your heart.
It not that you are merely deprived of food, your body refused to digest it too, bowels turn into silicon tubes they don’t absorb or digest, they act only as conduits. All in all your friends become cautious too and you have none to give you company after two chicken legs and two pegs of whiskey.
So this is a typical middle-aged person, who is struggling to adjust to what’s happening within him and around him. If you ask what happens to women in middle ages, I really don’t know, women don’t age, at least they don’t let us know they do, you can’t ask them their age, so let’s assume they are always young. But the moot point is that men suffer a lot in middle age, the least you can do is to be a little more considerate, a little more understanding, a little more loving, and finally a request if you can please resist calling him an uncle.