There was a time when the thought of a grandmother — across all classes — would instantly conjure images of an old lady, her white hair tucked tightly into a neat bun, sitting on a rocking chair, knitting while telling stories to her grandchildren, who would be sitting in rapt attention around her. Songs like Nani teri morni ko moor lay gai which little children grew up listening to helped consolidate this image.
Imagine how perplexed those kids of yore would be if instead of someone who fits this description of a grandmother they were to come face-to-face with the urbanite grandmother of today, her hair blow-dried to perfection, attired in the latest designer dress, carrying a smart, fashionable bag and wearing stilettos!
Don’t get me wrong — the kids may be surprised but I am in no way suggesting that grandmothers should look their age. The credit goes to them that they have taken care of themselves so well that even in their 60s they can easily be passed off for being in their 40s. The trend to take care of one’s health and physical appearance — provided one can afford to do it — is a laudable one and has given rise generally to a more smartly turned-out older population.
In fact, Aqil Amin of AQ Power Yoga, who has been holding yoga classes for the last five years, says that even people in their 70s come for yoga. He generally holds separate classes for people over 40 but occasionally there come people in their 50s who are so fit that they not only enrol in the more strenuous classes but are also able to cope much better than those far younger than them.
Hasan Rizvi, proprietor of BBRC (BodyBeat Recreational Centre), where various fitness and dance classes are held, corroborates this view. He says that both women and men eagerly sign up for the different classes offered there, depending on their stamina, while some classes are held exclusively for women. And guess what, even here age is no barrier.
He thinks people are generally more fitness-conscious today; while the relatively young prefer the more strenuous and innovative methods of exercising — some are into pilates, some into zumba or choreographed aerobics, or fat torching programme (popular with would-be brides and grooms) while others are into boot camp (a combination of TRX and circuit training) — women who are in their 40s and above mostly enrol in yoga and aerobic classes that are held exclusively for them. Often, mothers and daughters come together for the same classes, each serving as inspiration for the other.
I like fitness-conscious people and especially appreciate those who being on the wrong side of 40 take extra care to remain in form. However, my grouse is with the near-60-year-olds who, not content to look like 40 something, want to pass off as teenagers. With more and more centres guaranteeing weight loss and a transformed persona —with treatments that range from the non-invasive ones such as body wraps, cellulite loss massages, face toning massages, personalised diet plans, etc., to the invasive ones such as botox, stomach stapling, laser, liposuction and what not — both men and women are turning more and more towards these methods for looking younger and smarter. They are a lot quicker and less strenuous than a workout regimen, even if heavier on the pockets.
But heck, who cares? As long as a person can be transformed practically overnight from an amma or abba into a youngster, why fret?
One wonders what happened to the good ol’ concept of aging gracefully and elegantly. These days the trend to look young, fit and beautiful has taken over the aunties brigade in such a big way that you have to do a double take to recognise the once familiar faces — so much under the scissors have their faces and bodies come.
It is sad, but after a point the person begins to look so fake that one feels they would have been better off had they let nature take its course. But who knows? Always the one to look at the brighter side of things, let me put it this way: maybe a time will come when we won’t have an aging population to speak of — at least looks-wise. So what if our great, great grandchildren will no longer be able to draw images in their minds of traditional-looking grandparents?