Sunday, 1 November 2009

It’s About The Ability, Not The Age

About one and a half months ago, it was a week of the not-so-young Indian players. Leander Paes won the doubles title at the US Open. And, the next day Sachin Tendulkar scored his 44th century, in one day internationals, clinching the Man of the Match and Man of the Series awards as well! Don’t forget, Paes and his partner Clara Black were runners up at the US Open.

Yeh hai yougistan meri jaan! That’s what a television commercial says! Not so long ago, all ‘self proclaimed’ cricket pundits were harping on how the game has changed with respect to the people playing it. How the Indian cricket team desperately needed fresh legs and youthful exuberance. Even idols like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid were completely written off. But Tendulkar, being the genius he is, managed to shut the so called youth of the Indian cricket with his super performance when his country and team needed it the most.

Leander Paes is almost synonymous with Indian tennis. He had put India on the world tennis map at a time when facilities pertaining to the sport in the country could not even be called decent. Even with all the improvement in tennis facilities across India, availability and affordability of foreign coaches and technological support for the game, India hasn’t been able to produce a sportsman of comparable caliber. Thus India still depends on a 36 year ‘old’ to win Grand Slams.

Till a couple of years ago, I quite strongly believed that one cannot do anything new after the age of 30. Well, I felt that way because my mind was very strongly influenced with all that I heard while growing up, also by many people I associated with. Looking back, in the past four or five years, I have met three people who made me realize that age is just a number. They said or did nothing extra to make me change my mind. It’s just by the way they live their lives, and the way they look and talk and behave, I got to realize that being in your 30’s is not bad at all. In fact, it is better in many ways. Well, I am not getting into writing about that aspect now!

Looking at Bollywood, the leading, successful actors are all over 40 years old; take Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Shahrukh Khan. There are scores of younger actors who are trying to make it big in the industry. So, clearly there is no significant barrier to entry in the industry. Even if ability is disregarded, the older guys are still the audience’s preference.

On the other side of the world, Susan Boyle is a sensation in the world of music, and she is 47 years old. Don’t know how many people watched her on her first day at Britain’s Got Talent. She was laughed and mocked at by the audience and the judges, the audience and the judges who appeared apprehensive and judgmental of her unpolished appearance. Though it’s a fact that will never be admitted, her detractors didn’t take an instant liking to her because of her age. Then she started singing and left everyone spellbound. Those who made faces at her looked like fools! There are so many surviving artists from the 70’s and 80’s who are still filling out large arenas and embarking on one world tour after the other.

It is not about the age. It is about the ability. I agree, with age, the body and the mind become slower for most people, but that cannot be the rule! I read in an article that former US president George Bush Sr did a parachute jump from a height of 13,000 feet to celebrate his 80th birthday, while astronaut John Glenn became the oldest man to fly in space at the age of 77.

Though biological age cannot be arrested or reversed, the mind-set and attitude can definitely remain positive irrespective of one’s age. While the youth is definitely the torchbearer of tomorrow, we cannot and should not undermine the contribution and untapped potential of the ‘not so young’.

‘’Twenty four and he believes for sure he’s got it made
Fame is here for good and looks will never fade, he doesn’t know
The game is never over till the cards have all been played
Eighty three and still he feels his best is yet to come
He believes that youth is wasted on the young, he’s alone
The only dream he ever has is being with someone’’ – from Silent Scream by Richard Marx