Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fading Glory: Moving On and Rocking On

Saurabh Ganguly’s decision to retire from all forms of international cricket reminds me of the late Vijay Merchant, a renowned cricketer of his time and the time he chose to retire – at the peak of his career. When asked by a reporter as to “Why” Merchant turned around and told the reporter that the reason was precisely that – he wanted people to speculate constantly as to “Why”, why did Merchant retire, and not go on till the point when people began asking the question Why Not”- why is this man Merchant carrying on endlessly, when he so obviously has passed his prime?

Vijay Merchant obviously had a point but it seems when applied to Ganguly, every thing is not quite black or white- every thing is a shade of grey and looking around it seems that both sets of questions – “why” and “why not” are being asked. Did he retire too early or too late? When is it ever the right time to retire? Is there any? Should one go on for ever or if not for ever, for as long as one can, if one is clear about what will be possible and what will not be?

Taking the topic of retirement beyond Saurabh Ganguly to the common man, the discomfort of retirement today is magnified by the fact that whereas life expectancy across most sections of society has increased astoundingly, the skills that one brings to the table typically gets obsolete far more rapidly. So what is one to do? one wants to work for as long as on can, both for fulfillment, pleasure as well as the sheer necessity of earning a living for the long years that one has now to live and without the definitive assurance of any support or assistance from one’s children as was the expectation in the old days.

One can of course choose not to retire and continue on in oblivion driven and motivated by created urges provided one has the resources to do so. Dev Anand would be a suitable example. In the fifties and sixties, he was part of the trinity of Hindi Film heroes including Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and himself. Today Raj Kapoor is dead, Dilip Kumar is retired but Dev Anand at 86 has just started his new film Chargesheet and post that, he has already thought through the subject of his new film after that based on Pandit Ravi Shankar. In many ways Dev Anand has grown irrelevant as hardly any ones watches his films any more and one never knows when his film is released and where. And yet Dev Anand goes on and he has said many times over that he has no plans to retire from film making. Ever. Period.

In the end perhaps, may be we should not be talking of retirement but of retooling, of moving on into new and more relevant things … but not fading out into oblivion. Today’s generation does not value age or experience much … and yet the discernment that age brings, that experience brings, can never be replicated through case studies and lecture notes. After all life can not be simulated… it has to be lived in real time… and so be it Saurabh Ganguly or Dev Anand or the common man… We sooner or later need to vacate wherever we are now and yet as we move on… we can still ensure that we still Rock On……

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