Nepali Times
Under My Hat
The old and the beautiful


Before any of you get carried away and start sending me unsolicited birthday cakes, let me give you a few useful tips that I snitched from the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine on how to age gracefully. If you need to develop a double jowl to get some respect around here, then so be it.

The trouble is that with advances in science and technology, we as a species have become so good at keeping our youthful good looks that we can fool most of the people most of the time even as we approach five-oh. Like tourists, older people in our country are regarded as gods. But how can you actually tell that you are in the presence of an elderly gentleman if he still looks like Brad Pitt? How can disgustingly young whippersnappers barely out of their diapers and recently weaned from mama's mammaries accord senior citizens like us the reverence that we deserve in the autumn of our lives?

As I was saying. Wait a minute, what was I saying? Right, without any further ado around the bush I'll let you in on some tricks old fogeys like me use to look disgustingly younger:

1. Hair. With recent advances in Follicular Transplantation Techniques and the development of the Community Forestry Programme, it is difficult to tell that a guy is old just by inspecting his or her hair. Hair can be deceptive. For one thing, a person may have a full head of hair, but it may not be his or her. To test this, give the senior citizen a playful pat on the head, clutch a handful of hair in your fingers and yank it suddenly. If older guy yelps out in pain, then Aha! he's not that old. Older chaps tend to lose hair from where it is supposed to grow (head, chin, chest and armpits) and gain hair where it is not supposed to (ear canal, eye brows, nostrils, bath tub outlet). That is why one peek into the ear canal of a supposedly-young senior citizen which reveals the tangled undergrowth of a tropical rainforest with bottom feeders crawling about is sufficient proof that you are indeed in the presence of a venerable old gentleman.

2. Teeth. Take it from me: the older we get, the fewer of these we have. That is the general rule. But some of us wily geezers try to fool society by donning a mouthful of 32 artificial manmade teeth. It takes an expert to tell whether the ivories are the genuine article. This you do by carefully observing subject as he takes a bite at a guava slice. If teeth attach themselves to guava instead of the other way around, then subject is in the autumn of his or her life, and you should accord him and her all necessary respect and assistance.

3. Belly. According to Newton's Third Law of Thermodynamics and the Archimedes Principle, a body floating in space attracts another body floating in space with a force equal to the square root of the acceleration of both bodies. This is why my lower abdomen has of late started moving in general direction of the Centre of the Earth. There are several ways that us older people try to get our tummies to defy gravity. One is to wear wired undies that give our soft underbellies some cantilever support, but the trouble with this bit of engineering is that it thrusts forward our innards thus making them even more prominent. When you hear young passersby say: "Geez, that one's got guts" don't take it as a compliment.

4. Clothes. One way to fool people that you are not as old as you look is to take tips from teenage magazines and dress like younger people. In this day and age, this means wearing jeans that begin in the general vicinity of your appendectomy scar and expose to all and sundry the bales of lint that have gathered in your belly button, and end several fathoms beneath your feet. Your trouser should actually be a hand-me-down from Michael Jordan so they are easy to get in and out of. And never, and I mean never, tie your shoe laces. That's like so uncool.

5. Speech. Clothes aren't everything, bro, and it is important to learn, like, to speak like other young dudes and liberally sprinkle your conversation with the word "cool" (pronounced "cuawl") so no one can tell that you're actually just another old dork. Speaking of sprinkling, I don't even know whether I should tell you this, but when you get to ripe old age like me, "toilet training" takes on a whole new meaning. We need a GPS to keep track of all urinals and arsenals in our immediate vicinity.

Good thing I'm wearing Michael Jordan's trousers these days.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)