The philosophy of marriage has been a beautiful institution, bringing a young man and a woman into partnership leading to a family life for regulating sexual behaviour, reproduction and nurturing the offspring. It was meaningful to talk about the medieval aesthetics of marriage as a delightful procreative art and integrity of marriage. The modern civilisation where individual freedom is a coveted commodity has caused contemporary marriages very fragile. The perceptions and relationship of marriage are no more ethical, bringing chaos in the family.

Doctors can read the mind of the 'dead', who a decade ago, would have been certified dead, cremated or buried. Mind is the invisible part of thought, which is processed by the brain. Half a century ago, while I was a young doctor, we certified patients dead when their hearts stopped beating. I had another confirming sign to look for to clinch the diagnosis. That was to look at the arteries in the retina inside the eyeball. They should be empty of blood. But many a time it was a bit of hit-and- miss.

It’s hard not to cavil. It sticks in craw. it’s a craze that women in the whole retirement shebang want to start a family. I know old age is not always old age for someone who has a healthy mind and physique, untouched by the pillages of time. I only felt old two years ago, which I noted down in my diary. Since then I’ve counting the days when I’ll kick the bucket.

There are many people in the world who think they know the truth, different from the truth of others. There are people who prefer to believe in a story just because it was believed by the tribe’s ancestors rather than accept uncertainty, such as a beautiful heaven above where all the virtuous souls go. I don’t criticise them. We are free to believe what we want. Only that, If Copernicus, Newton, Einstein and Stephen hawking had not deviated from their ancestors’ accumulated knowledge, our knowledge would have been stagnant.

’m not in the habit of seeking banana skins on which to slip. Or, anti-social to a pathological degree. I’m just imperfect. The world we live in is also imperfect. The present is built on a foundation of a flawed past and the future will rest on the remains of the present. We come and die, thickening the outer layer of the earth. As we get old we summon past events to our mind; some are pleasant and some are not. This we call memory that never dies.

Fashion is something we associate everyday for the ‘feel-good’ factor. Among the Meiteis in Manipur, wearing the humble “khudei” (loin cloth), we choose the colour and design. This however, does not blend entirely with Shakespeare, who wrote: “The apparel oft proclaims the man.”- Hamlet.

The coming of a New Year inevitably brings on many past experiences to reflect upon. One of the lesser pleasures of Christmas this year was to watch my ageing wife to work so hard to celebrate Christmas twice with the same verb as my daughter, her husband, and the grandchildren could not make it on Christmas day because they had to work on that day.

The rain had stopped. The clouds had parted. Christmas was over. It was a pleasure watching our children and grandchildren, who have no affiliation to Christianity, opening their presents by the illuminated Christmas tree in our lounge, after the traditional Christmas turkey lunch, while I was rearranging my thoughts.

Technological breakthrough is always fun as everyone gets his or her deserts in due course, like Eastern Indian Railways are coming to Manipur by 2020 after 149 years, while driverless cars will be on the global market by 2020. Self-driving computerised cars with artificial Intelligence, especially with “deep learning” (ability of computers to use logarithms to solve problems) are taking humans out of equation. Artificial Intelligence provides the autonomous cars with real time decisions and human perceptions to control actions, such as acceleration, steering, brakes, stopping at traffic lights and changing lanes.

It’s hard to escape a sense of diminishing returns as you age. All the same, old age is to be envied. After a lifetime of hard work and responsibilities it’s time to relax and enjoy life, as I am doing. But I didn’t realise until two nights ago how my face looks so weird and alarming until I met a couple of class fellows with ancient faces, from my undergraduate B Sc class in Nainital. My wife, refreshingly, told me I look the same.
Old age is not like 20-something who goes down the pub to have a couple of pints (beer). It can be a little monotonous on its own; but pep it up with the ravages of time, it has all the predictable peaks and troughs ploughed in on the face, bearing scant relation to the historic face. These are perks of old age. It’s mind over matter, with a fountain of youth that restores youthful mind to anyone who drinks it.