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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Middle Aged ? Not Yet !

Last month, I finished 30 years of my life and just when I had started to think that perhaps technically I have turned middle-aged, I corrected myself that I would be middle-aged only if my estimated life span is 60 years.I did a quick search and figured out that as of today's statistics , the average life expectancy of a mallu female at birth is 76 years, which means that I have at least another 8 years to get there :) .But I'd presume that by that time the life expectancy rate would have increased further and I would probably have few more years than 8 to be middle-aged.

I recall my days (in Kerala) as a kid, when women (by the time they turned 30) would have already had at least 2 school-going kids , a flabby belly and looked like they have already lived half their lives . As I write this blog, I can without much effort count at least 5-6 of my female friends (whom I went to college with) who have already turned 30 and have either not identified their life partners or haven't even started actively thinking of conceiving , which is quite a contrast to the earlier setup.

Few months back , a round table was conducted in my office where women with an experience range of  around 8-10 years were randomly picked up from different teams. The goal of the meeting was to take a peek on how women handled their personal lives along with work pressures and thus each of us had to share some basic information about our family. Even though only 10 women turned up, I was very surprised to find that every single woman had a unique status. For eg,. only half of us were married and within that there were women who had kids, no kids, expecting, one had decided not to have kids; in the unmarried set , one had decided never to be married, one said she's was thinking of adoption and so on.I was glad to know that today women have and exercise lot more flexibility than they did 30 years back.

Having said all about flexibility and joy of  celebrating youth even in one's 30s , I am not trying to paint a rosy picture. From what I see around , the marriage market still has a high demand for the young & the naive (not talking about men of course). One of my male friends told me that when his parents started bride-hunt for him (when he was 25-26), his parents went looking for a 21-22 year old bride.Even after 4 years, when he turned 29-30, the expected age for his potential bride remained static at 21-22. The justification is fairly simple. A 21-22 year old bride would have just enough education but wouldn't have explored the world yet or developed her own preferences or independent thought process. Such a woman could be easily moulded to fit into one's requirement and can be easily controlled .Then of course there's the added benefit of many years of the biological clock that can be used to space two or more offspring before she turns 30.

As I had already secured a job by the time I was 21 , my parents were more than eager to get me "married off" . I have only myself to thank for,for having resisted it. When I finally got married 4 years later by my own choice, I was considered too old by my potential in-laws to be considered for a dutiful daughter-in-law post and my age had become a factor of much negotiation and debate even though Vinod's age is 3-4 years more than mine. By the time I was 28, my in-laws , relatives and friends had shed all their modesty in reminding me that I was too old and that my chances of conception itself was meagre.Vinod and I often got to hear things like -"Her age is the factor. She's too old. Maybe she should be checked with a doctor ! "  .

Considering the age-related personal experiences I had, I am now sure that even celebrities like Aishwarya Rai would have a story to share about her struggles to balance a career and personal life , both of which closely revolves around her age (esp. because she is is in the showbiz industry).I am sure that the doctors and other medics reading this post might subscribe more to the school of thought that it is best that women deliver babies in their 20s as they are physically tuned better at that age but as Vinod puts it - There are two graphs in everyones life -  the physical one and the mental one.Both the graphs need to intersect , whether it be marriage , kids or anything else in life ,even a vacation for that matter !

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