Rahul Da Cunha: Are you 55 running?

Illustration/Uday MohiteIllustration/Uday Mohite

So, I turned 55 yesterday. Yeah I'm a Cancerian - I get that smiling nod from most people, everyone's an astrologer, right? Followed by a classic back-handed compliment - "Accha Cancerian, huh? Moody artiste, typical crab, sideways movement, so lateral thinker, but you hide your emotions, hard shell but soft interior."

Fifty-five is a nothing age, not like 18 where you can start driving, or 21 where you can vote or 71 when you can stand for Indian Presidentship. Fifty-five is an age that fits somewhere between being a millennial and a new millennium.

Senior citizenship awaits me in three years, but I look forward to it with bated breath - just the thought that I will be entitled to Air India tickets at half price is so exciting. Young people will offer me a chair at a free seating David Guetta concert.

"Rahul uncle please sit."

"Don't call me uncle, I'm not your father/mother's brother."

"Okay Rahul sir, please sit."

The inevitable question is always asked when one turns a year older.

"Are you 55 complete or 55 running?"

I've never understood that phrase – 55 running?

In any case, at 55, you shouldn't be running… you should be, at most 55 sauntering or walking.

Then, there's the average Mumbai faux pas. Here's an example:

Faux pas person: That movie, La La Land, nice but was totally for the 'oldies' generation.

Me: What do you mean 'oldies' generation?

Faux pas-ist: You know, fifty plus types.

Me: Uh I'm 55.

Pause. Three possible comebacks from that 'foot-in-the mouth moment.
1. "Uh sir, you know what I mean."
2. "Dude, you don't look 55. You're too cool for your age."
3. "Uh sir, excuse me, I need to take this call."
And then the issue of birthday presents.

Alas, no more gift coupons from Rhythm House - the erstwhile music store is becoming a jewellery showroom, though I'm hoping to get gift coupons worth R20,000 for golden earrings, a pearl necklace, or a silver bracelet.

Giving physical gifts seems passé now, everything is an e-present. I'm not asking for wrapping paper, a red ribbon. I'm even saying give me a vase someone else gave you. Anything. Just something holdable. Don't make me go online to check an email where I need to click on a link and first three ads come at me, for Roopam saris, to purchase Adani realty in Kalyan, or order a Dominoes pizza before I get to my present.

So, if it's a low network area, or Reliance has dug up the cables outside my home, or I forgot to pay my Docomo dongle bill, I have to wait for '56 running' to download the 'tohfa'.

Yesterday, someone sent me an e-cake. How do I blow out candles facing a laptop screen without looking stupid? And the most vitally, how do you eat an e-cake, without someone saying pityingly, "Uh Rahul, are you 75 running, can I help you? RTI is around the corner if you want to eat something sweet." So, dear reader, you can e-wish me. I will be 56 running. And, next year I will be the same number as the PM's chest.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62@gmail.com

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