Thoughts On Another Birthday


Bhagyasree’s “Qaid Mein Hain Bulbul.” Sunil Gavaskar curled up like an armadillo defending against Wayne Daniel. Imran Khan sending Michael Veletta’s stumps walking. Vinod Kambli crying in Kolkata. Zico missing that kick. A man in front of a blackboard and a long wooden stick explaining election results on DD. News of Indira Gandhi’s assassination stopping the commentary of an India-Pakistan match. Cheering for VP Singh as the Congress gets drubbed. Mandal and feeling betrayed by the same man we had once cheered for. Hawa Hawa. Oye Oye. The taste of Re 1 chumchum. All of these feel just as fresh and as vivid as if they happened yesterday. But if you ask me about things that happened in the last few years—all the movies, matches, events become a jumbled mess of color and noise and I have to pause, hem and haw, trying to unravel the tangled web of what passes for my short-term memory.

I guess this is what getting old means.

It’s not a bad thing after all. This passage of time.When you are young, you want it all. Not only that, you do not even know why you “want it all” except that everyone else does and you are afraid that if you don’t you are going to miss something. It’s kind of confusing and overwhelming. Once you pile on the years, you realize your own limitations, which of the “I want it all”s you *actually* want and what kind of things are you willing to let go for each item on that list. That simplifies life. A lot.

Of course, it’s not all fun and games though. When I was younger, there were two kinds of food—-good and bad. You had as much as you could of the former and gulped down the latter. Now the same thing had become a most complicated beast; every bite being tarnished by words like “carbs”, “saturated fat”, “cholesterol”, “triglycerides” and the vilest two words in the English language “portion control”. For the mid thirties man, eating is the equivalent of watching porn in one’s teens—an experience almost always accompanied by a gnawing sense of guilt.

But then again, it’s not that bad. The pressure to look like John Abraham reduces every year and you get more comfortable looking like Amar Singh—the love-handles, the double-chin and the bald spot. It’s age after all. I am not twenty-five any more you know. To be honest, despite the outwards sign of bravado, you do feel really tense when the results of your physicals come in but then again, it’s the exact same butterfly-in the-stomach please-I-will-do-better-next-time sensation you used to have when your report-cards were given to you after the annual examination.

The most important thing about becoming old is the realization of how little everything really matters. When I was young, I thought getting thirty-seven in my pre-HS tests would ruin me forever. It didn’t.Β  After my disastrous performance in the Joint Entrance Examinations,Β  I thought my career was over. That wasn’t the case. When I kept on sending my writings to assorted publications, all in vain, I thought I would never be able to realize my dreams of becoming a writer. There too I was wrong. And through the years, if there is one thing I have learned (not that I don’t re-learn it every now and then) is what seems a matter of life and death today becomes a mere footnote tomorrow, a heartbreak in the morning becomes a “Oh man what the fuck was I thinking” by the evening and that in life,Β  there are just a very few things that are truly important.

And what are these things you ask?

A K Hangal knows. So does Shahid Afridi.

And, I guess at thirty-five, so do I.


94 thoughts on “Thoughts On Another Birthday

  1. Dear Arnab – Many happy returns of the day. Also, many thanks for enriching my life – being 37, probably belonging to same social mileu and have a strong emotional Calcutta connect, i identify with your musings a lot.

    Happy B’day


  2. Amen to that. It’s another story that the realization of what looms large today, is but a speck tomorrow has made me more lax than I should be (if it hasn’t begun to backfire, now that I have kids), but I’ll save that conversation for another day.

    In the meantime, a very happy birthday to you! This (and this) brought me here.
    (Aside: I had always wanted to time travel.)

    (I’m a bit embarrassed right now, but see, I’ll laugh over it tomorrow :-|)

    Hope the coming year is everything you want it to be πŸ™‚

  3. I am a few years younger than you (or somewhat less of a geriatric), and I look forward to being 60 someday and reading your post on 30th December 2039. You will be up there with the best thinkers and the polymaths of that age – I am sure.

  4. Happy B’day GB, Just brilliant stuff (as usual). I can’t put in words how you make people think about various (unrelated) things and make a wonderful little story with every post. Many people have commented before that you put things in right perspective (and words), all those things which a lot of us could only think of. You inspire your readers!!

    Have a prosperous new year.

  5. Heh Heh. Happy Birthday Grandpa!
    Bachpan ka dhamaal has perhaps gone by but you are far from that budhape ki shaal. Well, at least your writing’s sharp as ever; as in jaaaaani…. ye chaaku he!

    So here’s lookin’ at you and wishing you Dev Anand’s longevity, Big B’s visibility, Dharam-ji’s mileage and N.D. Tiwari’s rampage.

  6. Happy Birthday Arnab πŸ™‚

    Whenever you write , it speaks for all . Let it be that 10 rs. saloon post or todays. Every one will feel that you are telling their story .

    It just shows you are not indifferent , you are just normal common man thats why you are able to understand “common peoples life”.

    Hats off to you …and more than that Thankful to refreshing my childhood and Teenage πŸ™‚

  7. Happy b’day dude. I guess it is lot easier to get old with people you know. When we are 20 then all our friends and siblings are around that age and even the thought of becoming 35 years old is scary. But now in thirties … spouse, friends and siblings are all in 30’s so it doesn’t feel odd or scary. Now the kids give me the sense of being young and I feel as young as my kids.

  8. Happy Birthday GB!

    Erm… just a question. How did you get into Jadavpur Comp Science if your joint result was disastrous?

  9. Happy B’day Bong…
    another Great Blog from GreatBong..cant get few words together to weave a superlative adjective for some of your write ups, they all pale in comparision… have a great year ahead and also the next 364 days till you reach your B’day..

  10. Happy Birthday GB.

    –what seems a matter of life and death today becomes a mere footnote tomorrow, a heartbreak in the morning becomes a β€œOh man what the fuck was I thinking” by the evening–

    Gem. Period.

  11. Yes, at 35 who can be with ranjit listening to ‘Mango Mango Mango’ and not get engaged to your father’s best friend’s daughter who loves the hero…. being 35 is nice.

  12. Happy Birthday sir….and a happy new year too….Sir now it is wrong to place you just under the category of blogger/writer….with every post you inspire people who might be feeling low…..I really want to say this today….I have been through the worst year of my life(both personally and professionally)…and when the going was really tough i by chance discovered your blog….I can tell you with all honesty that things have improved a lot…yah my effort were there but that inspiration,ray of hope it has been ur posts sir…..I will always be indebted to you for starting this blog and sharing your thoughts with us….Thank you sir…thank you very much…..

  13. Arnab,

    Many happy returns of the day. A nice introspective post. Your opening lines made me nostalgic as usual.

    May you have a fulfilling and peaceful life ahead.

    God Luck and Godspeed,

  14. …and that in life, there are just a very few things that are truly important.
    And what are these things you ask?…

    Ah I wish I did too! And why is life always such a bundle of dissapoinments all the time, be it your pre HS test, job interviews or heartbreaks! One after the other. Bummer!

  15. …and that in life, there are just a very few things that are truly important.
    And what are these things you ask?…

    Ah I wish I did too! And why is life always such a bundle of dissapoinments all the time, be it your pre HS test, job interviews or heartbreaks! One after the other. Bummer!

  16. Thank you for everyone for the wishes. Happy New Year.

    @Mohit Roy, I gave my JEE again next year. First year I got Metallurgy in JU and studied it for 1 year.

    @Some Nostalgic Moments: Thank you so much. I am glad to have had a positive effect on your life.

  17. Happy Birthday GB.

    This is one of the posts which when I read, I just want to say ‘God, why didn’t you give me the power to write like this?’ You, sir, are genius.

  18. I hope more people soon wake up to see what a supremely talented writer you are.. that you are much beyond the blogger brigade and also many mainstream print guys we have today. Like I said before, rather Watterson said once ‘Genius is never understood in its own time.’ I hope that never comes true in your case. Cheers!

  19. Speaking of Bhagyashree and β€œQaid Mein Hain Bulbul”, the movie had a significant philosophical influence on my life.

    Before I was delving into Hindu Darshanas, before I had heard about the constant balance between “prakruti” and “Purusha” and the “scientific ways” of Sankhya Yoga; Bhagyashree and her husband Himalaya Patwardhan (i think that was his name) had conclusively proven one thing to me.

    That the combined hotness of a married couple is always a Constant. The hotter the Prakruti (female), the choo**a the Purusha (husband).

    Ofcouse there are exceptions, but generally speaking, thats the rule… and that makes me happy, the rule I mean, not the exception.

  20. Happy birthday GB !

    I am a lousy reader generally. Your blog is one of those few things that i make it a point to read regularly!

    Hope you had a great birthday!

    Keep posting! πŸ™‚

  21. Such a nice post, ended abruptly. Was so interesting that I was expecting more to read. Next birthday, maybe πŸ™‚

  22. Happy (belated) Birthday!

    But ‘old’ at 35? Come on, with life expectancy running into 80 in the US, you’re not even halfway there!

    A little bit of time in the gym, a little less of the chom-chom and ‘all izz well’.

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