Old is gold, it is always said. When I was a five-year old, some 55 years ago, my elders said their olden days were gold. Today, my son, who is around 30, says, “old is gold.”
I always wonder why everyone's olden days are better than their present. Old music and songs were good. Old films were outstanding. Old clothings were of better quality. Old craftsmanship was worthier. Old silk sarees were good. In the olden days, food was of high standards. Old vessels and wares were of high quality.
Old teachers were excellent. Old schools were better centres of learning. Old furniture pieces were more appealing. Old houses were user-friendly, airy and well ventilated. Old games with minimum but crude gadgets were more enchanting. The old All India Radio entertained us all with high quality programmes. Old friendships were more reliable. Old wine was tasty. Why this old kolaveri di and da? Is it something to do with one's psyche? No. It cannot be brushed off or wished away simply like that. Old is, and was, really gold. But why?
Times are changing fast. Values are eroding. Goodness is replaced and it is now measured by smartness to get on with life. We have become excessively vigilant, touchy and more suspicious for no real reason. Today, we frisk everyone, inwardly at least. We take things with a pinch of salt. Though today's material comforts — that could not even be dreamt of a decade ago — are aplenty, still something is amiss about life. What is it? Peace? Happiness?
Peace prevailed earlier, despite wars. There was trust. There was hope. People relaxed better. There was no clamour for things that one did not possess. The absence of those, that were not deemed essential to own, never made any difference to a happy life.
There was contentment. Competition was less cut-throat. There was concern, affection and true bonding. There was togetherness. More important, people were patient. No doubt, there were poverty and scarcity, paucity and difficulty. But there was beauty in life and comity among all. Disputes were quickly and amicably sorted out. Courts had fairly less business.
When China invaded us in the early 1960s, there was acute rationing of essentials. Sugar disappeared. But people were happy with jaggery. Wheat replaced rice in many south Indian families as a one-time staple food. Fasting and starving were daily affairs. People helped each other. There was a total blackout and people went without power for days on end. There was camaraderie.
Places of worship were serene and tranquil. There was no terror harboured, either in the mind or for real. All communities co-existed amicably and people waited for better times. They tolerated deficiencies in others and accommodated idiocies, shortcomings and pitfalls of others. They took oddities in their stride without murmur. Rank consumerism was non-existent.
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Old is gold — yesterday, today & tomorrow - The Hindu