I REMEMBER, AS A TEENAGER, TRYING DESPERATELY TO LOOK OLDER AS I THOUGHT grey hair was more valued than grey cells in the brain in the profession I was keen of joining.
Having got the first two bylines in a publication at the age of 16 and called by the editor after he accepted the third one. I tried to look older by wearing zero-power ‘spectacles’ as he thought I was a boy running errands for the contributor.
Now that I have natural grey hair I wonder: Does grey hair bring respect to people more than the ‘grey matter’ in their brains (symbolizing intelligence)? Do people jump to a conclusion that a very young person is immature and that a grey-haired person has more intelligence coming from greater experience.
In Hindi there is a saying , “I have not got this grey hair just from exposure to sun”, i.e. the grey hair indicates not just age but also experience. Is grey hair, therefore, something to be proud of and exhibited?
Just as grey hair gives some dignity to a person, it may also result in his being looked down upon. In a country where people shout at a stumbling blind man “Are you blind?”, an old man can be ridiculed as a “Buddha” or pitied.
The country does not have a policy for the elderly — only some concessions for senior citizens. Their potential is wasted. In India grey hair is no guarantee of maturity. Yes, experience does give one knowledge, which may or may not mean wisdom.
Just as pleasure is not happiness, knowledge should not be confused with wisdom. Or degrees with education.