Old is gold, it is always said. When I was a five-year old, some sixty years ago, my elders said their olden days were gold. Today, my son, who is around 30, says, “old is gold.”
I always wonder why everyone's olden days are better than their present. Old music and songs were good. Old films were outstanding. Old clothing were of better quality. Old craftsmanship was worthier. Old silk sarees were good. In the olden days, food was of high standards. Old vessels and wares were of high quality.
Times are changing fast. Values are eroding. Goodness is replaced and it is now measured by smartness to get on with life. We have become excessively vigilant, touchy and more suspicious for no real reason. Today, we frisk everyone, inwardly at least. We take things with a pinch of salt. Though today's material comforts — that could not even be dreamt of a decade ago — are aplenty, still something is amiss about life. What is it? Peace? Happiness?
There was contentment. Competition was less cut-throat. There was concern, affection and true bonding. There was togetherness. More important, people were patient. No doubt, there were poverty and scarcity, paucity and difficulty. But there was beauty in life and comity among all. Disputes were quickly and amicably sorted out. Courts had fairly less business.
When China invaded us in the early 1960s, there was acute rationing of essentials. Sugar disappeared. But people were happy with jaggery. Wheat replaced rice in many south Indian families as a one-time staple food. Fasting and starving were daily affairs. People helped each other. There was a total blackout and people went without power for days on end. There was camaraderie. Places of worship were serene and tranquil. There was no terror harbored, either in the mind or for real. All communities co-existed amicably and people waited for better times.
Old teachers were excellent. Old schools were better centers of learning. Old furniture pieces were more appealing. Old houses were user-friendly, airy and well ventilated. Old games with minimum but crude gadgets were more enchanting. The old All India Radio entertained us all with high quality programmers. Old friendships were more reliable. Old wine was tasty. Why this old kolaiveri di and da? Is it something to do with one's psyche? No. It cannot be brushed off or wished away simply like that. Old is, and was, really gold.
There was give and take, and there were real tears during hard times. Roads were free of flashy four-wheelers. Dresses were tailor-made and not readymade. Hoteliers served fresh food. Food was never refrigerated. Fruit juices were fresh, never tinned. Home food was oven-hot, never re-heated.
Today, it is use and throw, be it a battery, a gadget, a gear, father or mother. Those days, it was use, remember and respect. Old homes of the past are old-age homes now. Donations to charities and orphanages are bountiful now. Temples are mushrooming in every colony. Yet, humanity is drying up, and about divinity, the less said the better.
Health was not a worrisome issue. It is a psychic issue now. We market ill-health in so many names today. Medicines are a “buy-one take-two (diseases?) formula” now. Divorces were few and far between. Every wedding anniversary is a milestone now.
There was commitment in what one did those days.
There is commerce in everything we do today. There are Valentine's Day, sister’s day, father’s day, mother’s day, friendship day, doctor’s day, nurse’s day, husband’s day, womens day, water day, sparrows day, diabetes day, AIDS day, TB day and every other day. There were only Mondays, Tuesdays and so on earlier. Forget the past, someone said. Why should one? Is it because the present is unbearable that the mind should not be tortured with the glory of the past? It is said not for nothing that old is gold.