Those Middle Age Blues

I was feeling kind of bored that Saturday, having gone around the usual places, picked up this and that for the upcoming trip to India and completed some of the long pending home repair activities. I had already cooked lunch and polished it off with gusto, but dinner cooking was not on the cards – you see, my wife was not at home and was already in India having left earlier on vacation. While driving in, I met my neighbor who asked if I was interested in eating Chindian noodles of the Gujarati style, but I was not too keen as lunch was actually Chindian fried rice. Not another Chindian session and that made up the decision for me to go to our local Udupi joint (joint – old college parlance for meeting place).

As I entered, I saw the elegant faced lady and her family sitting at the corner table. In a flash I knew who she was though I had never met her in person before. I had corresponded on musical history matters with her, for she was very adept in such things. I wanted to pass by her table and say hello, but however much I tried; I could not remember her name. So I ambled off to the other corner, not meeting their eyes and slouched over the menu, not really reading it but racking my brains..what in the hell…what is her name? I had written to her, listened to her on stage, but why was her short South Indian name not coming back to my lips? This time, it was not even at the tip of my tongue; it simply would not come out of those dark recesses in the grey matter contained within that little head of mine. What was it? Sita? Sudha? Seema? I had this inkling that her name started with an S, but nothing beyond that would form in my brain, to pop out a name…

I ordered a Chana batura. The lady and her strapping sons and husband were in animated conversation and did not even glance to my side; the lady’s back was turned to me, mercifully. But then again, I should not have worried; there was no way she would know who I was even though my picture was in my blog pages. The waiter took my order, marched off and was back in a jiffy with a humongous batura for which Udupi was famous. No time to think, for many S’s whirled about in my brain, but to no avail. I polished off the batura in record time and slunk away from the dark restaurant and got back home. Picked up the magazine where she contributes, turned the pages, there it was, the name…

My cousin, with whom I shared this anecdote, pulled my leg, saying I just had what they call a ‘Senior moment’. I ‘pooh poohed’ her….. but naturally. Senior moment, of all things…that is perhaps a long way off..I said.

The other day our friend Anu was also questioning…. ‘Do you remember everything? You write a lot of stuff on lots of different things”. I replied stating that I did not and that when I reread some of my older articles, I wondered myself about some parts of which I had little detailed recollection. In fact I even pat myself on some writing, telling myself, ‘not bad, man, that read good, not bad writing’. Anu sighed with relief, and said ‘phew, I thought only I had that kind of a problem’.

Well, that my friend is one issue with middle age, for you forget some things that otherwise occurred to you in a flash. You may not forget faces, but you forget names and sometimes things you have read long ago. As the hair line recedes (making one think if Indulekha was to be applied), as the paunch starts to appear like a baby bump (Picked that up when one of those celebrities got preggered (typical slang used in UK for somebody who got pregnant) and they were talking about it on TV), your gait becomes less animated but your conversational style becomes more animated instead and you talk on and on, sometimes repeating yourself. Many a time you do not quite realize it, till your better half nudges you and you are jolted back into getting to the point.

A time when you start making lists of things to do and when you sometimes forget a planned meeting, realizing that it is time to use the calendar function on your smart phone. And you ponder about the term they used for ages, something associated with professors - ‘absent mindedness’. A time when the body is slowing down, when you cannot eat and digest as much as you once did, a time when you sit back at the end of a day and doze off on the sofa as the wife is watching a serial on TV or your snores start to get louder and when belches, farts and burps start reappearing in your daily hours. When you try out your hand at your sons high speed car chase video game and crash in no time or get shot at within the first minute of the war game, you know that things are a little slow somewhere, no longer swift as it were when you were clambering up the tree in your youth or running away faster than Ben Johnson after breaking the pot, as a child……

 Friends, that is middle age encroaching into your life’s territory, that is what it is, some dread it, they start with creams to get the wrinkling skin look healthier, then comes the hair dye and moustache color, when the belt is tightened a further notch to get the belly out of sight. As your mind rebels, you start to chase after the youth that is passing by, you start wearing brighter colors, that you would have otherwise kept far away from, you watch your sons carefully or listen to figure out what is cool, you pick up the trends quickly to be in sync. People start to use youngsters usages like that stupid ‘anyways’ and you think about changing your car to a ‘hep’ version, like a sport coupe. The point is that you do not want to appear like a fossil…

But then fashion rebels too, the shirts today, the new wave type are a tragedy for the middle aged. They are tight slim fit ones and when you have that little paunch, it does look odd, well actually terribly and miserably horrible on a middle aged body. We have unfortunately been caught unawares, and the looser shirts are out of fashion, after office. And the shoes today, ugh! Long and pointy or square tipped like the ones we wore during the post Beatles 70’s.

Phone numbers are difficult unless they are entered into the smart phone with pictures to boot, but you do remember quite an important few. Sometimes, they ask you for your home phone number when in some office discussing something and the first thing that comes to you is the number you had many years ago in some other place, not the number you have now. And it all gets exacerbated when you are working in the middle of a university campus and you see the breathtakingly beautiful girls walking by and you start getting a little wistful….but then the bones are still not starting their creak though the joints tend to get a little stiff at some places, and you start getting stiff necks and sore shoulders at times, and you start to see that little sag under the eyes or the skin here and there..

You suddenly see that some of your office colleagues who were driving dowdy Toyotas and Hondas have switched to a Porsche, BMW or a Mini cooper. And you see that people suddenly blame others for all the problems, and things are not just your fault. A time when your dreams have wound down and you realize that some things are no longer in your reach. And it is the time when some rediscover themselves and find new hobbies, for it removes bitterness from one front and cover it up with the thrill of discovery in the other, where you are a young new student once again..

But then it is also the time when as some say, you should relax, slowdown and enjoy. That is why the rich and famous pick up skimpy clad, buxom young things while speeding in racy cars as others are coasting along to a duller home-office-garden-phone routine.

But then, experts state that my problem with the name has nothing to do with not eating enough okra while a child. They explain with elan that it is nothing but a rite of passage. They say that it is akin to your climbing up a flight of stairs and wonder why you went up in the first place and go on to explain that it has nothing to do with an onset of Alzheimer’s or any such thing. It is just a matter of not getting enough sleep, or anxiety or some other underlying issue. It could as some doctors say, be a case of vitamin B12 deficiency, resulting in low energy, fatigue and slight memory problems. Anyway why leave that to doubt? I went and purchased a bottle of ‘one a day for men’ and have since then religiously started ingesting one of those fat pink looking pills a day, chock full of vitamins and all the minerals and metals in the world.

Other doctors and experts say that the best thing to do is take a brisk 30 minute walk thrice a week and so my wife & I have been at it for a while now, walking around the community after office. As fall approached, I took out my new metal clad 600 lumen torch much to my wife’s disgust, checking out its awesome one mile beam. She thinks I am kind of silly flashing the torch now and then, remarking that all that is left is wear a monkey cap and a sweater, to make the look reach the ‘silly limit’. But I like my torch and I have to use it, for it is my latest acquisition (know what? I have many torches… a weakness like my collection of pens and watches) with its yellow super-bright LED and so on and the sleek gunmetal body…

And yet other doctors tell you to read a lot (perhaps they want you to nod off on your sofa reading them), solve crossword puzzles or play Sudoku (never tried any of those – I am racing cars or playing angry birds on my phone instead) like my MIL does. But I heard that my MIL has also started playing games on the phone these days. And wiser doctors state that you should now start to establish patterns and stick to them, so that you worry less. I think that is OK, but the problem is that when the unexpected occurs, you are really thrown off balance. So the question is if you should stick to a tight pattern or a loose one, I will find out from experience and tell you the result one of these days. A solid advice is to travel, but well, I think that needs time and money, so better to leave it for until later, I suppose.

Nevertheless, you are, as they say, as young as you feel. Then again, you do feel bad, if you had been going all around the house searching for your glasses till your wife points out that it is atop your head and that it is time to hang it round your neck on a chain or cord. Perhaps that is the right thing to do, but dear reader, these are all small things, irritations so to speak. If the result of all this is anger, depression or irrational behavior, it is something else, it is time to seek a doctor.

Or is it the onset of Andropause or Meopause? One research states that adults between 40 and 60 have changes in their brain activity that make it difficult to switch focus. A doctor says that ‘our ability to turn down our default mode, the state we are in when our brains are just ruminating, diminishes (Cheryl Grady, a senior scientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest – See Barbara Turnbull’s article). The doctors also point out that it is a bit slower in onset for men compared to women who see it earlier and quicker. So it is time to make that extra effort to tweak the brain or nudge it back into shape…

Reminds me, many a man I have talked to has not the faintest clue about Andropause, though they scoff at female menopause, so it is in order that I educate them some.. Not a medically accepted term as yet, likely because "andropause" is more a term of convenience describing the stage of life when symptoms of aging appear in men. This as definitions go, relates to the slow but steady reduction of the production of the hormones testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone in middle-aged men, and the consequences of that reduction, which is associated with a decrease in Leydig cells. Andropause is, to put it in simple terms, a decline in the male hormone testosterone. This drop in testosterone levels is considered to lead in some cases to loss of energy and concentration, depression, and mood swings, including loss of libido and potency, nervousness, depression, impaired memory, the inability to concentrate, fatigue, insomnia, hot flushes, and sweating…………

So when you are in that meeting or extempore speech and you stumble on a word that should have automatically come to your lips, you do not have to worry yourself to death; it is just onset of midlife. All you need to do is prepare better instead of rushing into it as you were once capable of, or as they say try learning a new language or something like that to activate the brain more by challenging itself. Do not give in or be a grouch and grumble about the ill effects, just come to grips with the events and manage the effect, that’s all.

And most of all, don’t try and strive for a six pack on your abdomen, but go for building a one pack in your brain instead. Remember that experts and scientists, Nobel Prize winners included go through exactly the same phase, every single one of them. Neurologists explain that memories are stored in neural networks which are shed or lost throughout your life. Actually the cells that insulate them are lost in the ageing process and as this insulation thins out, you have some small issues. Also, as you grow older, your brain is getting filled up with all kinds of information and gets a little fragmented, nothing stands out anymore (Karen Gram) and this shows in the case of children where each second can stand out from the first. But then again this is interesting, for we are actually talking about a problem with children and youth where the issue is forgetting what they need to do. In the case of adults, the problems is something else, it is about forgetting what you did.

Nevertheless, I am going to start reading a very interesting book on this subject written by Barabara Strauch, which I just received in the mail. I have to provide you a little insight into it by quoting from the book blurb..

While we might not be able to find our keys, our brains still have dazzling talents. We may lose some gray matter but we increase the white stuff (Myelin) that lets us process information faster. As the grown up brain reorganizes itself, it creates powerful new systems that cut through complex problems to find unique solutions. We often become happier overall, since our brains manage emotions more calmly. Even if the brain cannot cram as many civil war battle dates into its databank as it once did, it is at the top of its game. Because of better pattern recognition, we know how to size up situations and find answers quickly. We know how – with incredible ease- to juggle hundreds of emails, negotiate a complex deal, and cope simultaneously with a car that talks and a teen ager who doesn’t.

While windows has a solution to this where you defrag the disk and bring order into the storage facility, the adult brain does not seem to have one unless you can call a vacation one of those methods. I had a good one and I will have a quick and short long week end this year end. Not that I will be a teenager after the vacation, but I surely will have a lot more to talk about and write on, after being refueled, rejuvenated (I even had a proper ayurvedic massage this time) refurbished and recharged…and ladies, worry not – according to a British study, women are better at recollection than men at middle ages…

“Middle-age makes people miserable, so don’t blame your job, your kids, your spouse, your income or lack of it, proclaims Sharon Jayson’s article, but friends, worry not for middle age is not such a bummer, and now you know some of the why’s……….

and so….‘hum honge kamyaad, we shall overcome’…slim shirts or not, sharp shoes or whatever………….

In the meanwhile, wishing you all..

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a great 2012

Pics from baby boomers r and other sites thanks


harimohan said…
Maddys middle aged blues is a lively departure from the conventional
seriously Maddy i feel we bloggers are bit more good in sharpening our brains !not that i myself have anything to ascertain that
Happy Kitten said…
and ladies, worry not – according to a British study, women are better at recollection than men at middle ages…

so the men are doomed in every way :)

while facing andropause, they would have to listen to all the "Didnt I tell you so?" statements too..
Interesting read. I have started wearing bright colored shirts and T shirts with logos etc. What next? I wonder.
Maddy said…
thanks hari
this proved to be a very interesting topic, still reading up on it..
Maddy said…
thanks HK..
just the point...
Maddy said…
thanks PNS..
have to figure that one out.

Popular Posts

Head facing north

Tipu, Unniyarcha and Wodeyar – truth or fiction?

The Monsoons of Kerala

Kuriyedathu Thathriyude SmartaVicharam

The Kohinoor Diamond