Here I am sitting in the Business Lounge in the new beautiful Kolkata airport. Flight leaves at 4:10 AM (ugh 🙁 ) and the Lounge is pretty deserted. In fact two more passengers other than me.
One of them is an old gentleman (I figured a little younger than my dad) sitting not too far from me. He suddenly walked up to me and asked me “I know you are very busy but can I ask you for a help? Can you keep an eye on my luggage – I need to go to the toilet”. I, of course did not tell him that I am not really busy – just blogging.
When he came back, just so that I remain confident that I have not lost the art of irritating my wife and kids by making friends with complete strangers, I decided to take some interest in his story. Boy, am I glad I did.
He asked me if I have come on business – I told him about my parents and their health and why I travel to India for personal reasons not business. He seemed concerned and asked me about my dad’s age. I said 75. He asked me if I could guess his age. I figured a little less than my dad – he is traveling internationally by himself – so I pegged it around 65-68. He said 87 !!! I was like WHAT? a 87 year old Indian, by definition should be in a wheelchair in any airport. Or that is the impression I have gathered watching elderly Indians traveling at various airports.
Evidently, he has four daughters – in SFO, Houston, Philly and London. He visits them one by one once a year. So, I asked him what does he do when he is not visiting his daughters. He fished out his business card and said “I practice”. From the business card, looks like he is a tax lawyer. I was just floored by this.
So, I asked him – “Help me understand this. You do not need money. You are 87. Why are you working???”. He said his wife left him many moons back. And when his daughters left the country, he just was too lost to know what to do. So, he went back to the one thing he knew – practicing law!!
I wonder if forty years from now, even if I wanted to, can I possibly work in my domain? Also, will I be strong enough to travel internationally all by myself?
There is something to be learnt from Mr. Mahapatra from Bankura – you are only as old as you think you are!!!