Friday, December 16, 2011

There is something about Japan - aging gracefully

Of various countries I have travelled, Japan is very special. There is something different about this country, something very special about how people age here. Looking at ageing people is a paradigm shift in Japan. It is incredible to see so many people who age so gracefully together. Officially, Japan has become the first country in the world whose population has started declining. It is evident as you move around in Japan, the high proportion of old people hits you on your face!�
What you notice almost immediately is the ageing is not sad, pitiful, waiting for the death kind of ageing. The ageing active, graceful by leading a normal life. Men after they retire find a job, get dressed nicely in their formal coats and work. It is very easy to spot a grandma whose age might be hovering around 80 riding a bicycle in shopping area.�
In Japan context 70 is not old. I discovered this the hard way. I was quite impressed and taken in by their politeness. Somehow, i had this urge to match them and feel belonged in this foreign country. I was actively looking around for opportunities to be polite and nice to others. I saw this 70+ kind of a gentleman standing in the train next to where I was sitting. I stood up and offered my seat to him and...boom... He got offended. He not only refused to take the seat but also murmured something which sounded like " young man, buddha hoga tera baap.Arigato gozaimasu" Out of courtsey he did accept the seat. A little while later an old man in 80's appeared on the scene and the 70 year old offered the seat to him. Couple of stops later a woman in 90's appeared and got that seat. It is incredible to watch such old people living and ageing gracefully.

There must be something about this country where peole age so gracefully.
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