On Ageing And Obsolescence

Old is when you suddenly find yourself on the wrong side of the generation gap. When you take time to figure out ‘LOL’ does not actually mean ‘Lots of Love’. When your boss is (was) a decade younger than you. When your four year old child/grandchild can make your smartphone do astonishing things, that you would never have thought possible!

When routines like dialing a rotary phone, rolling your car window, trekking to the photo lab to spend a fortune on developing film, sending snail mail signed with a fountain pen in cursive hand……..have all quietly slipped through the hourglass.

I try to hold on to the handwritten notes and the books, but have joyfully embraced the liberation from labour of the rest (even if it means extra work to keep it from showing on my hips).

So excuse me while I go Face Time with the kids. I hope you enjoy browsing through these ‘Old’ quotes and galleries.


We’ve put more effort into helping
folks reach old age than into helping
them enjoy it
~ Frank A Clark


For a long time on Earth humans didn’t
worship good gods; that’s a new idea. 
The ancient Greek gods, the Hindu gods, 
are fairly amoral, most of them. We get 
stuck when we insist that God be both
good and all-powerful
~ Barbara Ehrenreich

“Tombs are the clothes of the dead 
and a grave is a plain suit; 
while an expensive monument
is one with embroidery’

~ R. Buckminster Fuller


The poets’ scrolls will outlive 
the monuments of stone. 
Genius survives; all else
is claimed by death
~ Edmund Spenser


“Home is a place you grow up
wanting to leave and grow old
wanting to get back to”
~ John Ed Pearce

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

82 thoughts on “On Ageing And Obsolescence

  1. Wonderful reflection and gallery on aging and obsolescence, Madhu. Strange, I’m just now writing a Friday meditation on the question of fate/ and death.

      1. Thanks Madhu! I’m so far behind in everything right now because I’ve been so preoccupied with selling my car and starting to get ready to leave Oman! I need to catch up with you too. 🙂

  2. It was the Pears and Shakespeare that got me as I have both of those.

    Just been trying to sort out a neighbour’s mobile phone and failed miserably 😦 Now if she’d bought an iPhone I could have fixed it in a flash!

    1. I am struggling with my Iphone……hate it when I can’t multitask with it at my ear 🙂 Can’t tell you how many people it has dialled without my permission!!
      The fabulously illustrated Oxford dictionary beneath the Ibsen tome, is my favourite. It’s pages are crumbling, and i cannot seem to find someone to restore it.

      1. That’s because your iPhone is a HalPhone. All Apples are Hals (2001 Space Odyssey) and think for themselves and do what they want. You are lucky to be allowed one to use you. Can’t remember which of my blogs I refer to my Hals on, probably all of them, but intermittently.

        I tend to use halphone for emailing, usually on roaming, but I rarely use it for ‘phone calls. I tell people I don’t have a mobile 🙂

        1. Good idea! Unfortunately I need the mobile.
          I would use my trusty old Nokia for phone calls, but the clever Mr.Jobs made sure the sim cards can’t be switched!

  3. Oh, this is a sweet-sad elegy to living, and life. I love your knack of putting pictures i a way they tell an untold story. A poet’s scroll in a new medium – just the way you like it, right? Have you thought of putting all your posts into an ebook… for those little ones you face timed with! You might have a winner there!

    1. Thanks Meenakshi, that’s an idea!
      I wouldn’t need visual props to embellish my stories, if I could write eloquent verses like you do 🙂

  4. Not sure why we can’t LOL with LOL but as a one of the rents I know my place, or at least I let them think I do . . . . Great shots and lovely quotes, all of them a wonderful start to my day, thank you Madhu! Enjoy your Face time with the kids!

    1. Thanks Patti.
      With a preteen grandson I am picking up fast! My latest challenge is learning soccer lingo, in order to converse intelligently with him 🙂 They do keep us young in mind at least!

  5. Great post, Madhu. I knew I had encountered the generation gap when I went to a doctor who was younger than my children. Yikes. I taught at university and had no problem enlisting the help of my students when I had problems operating the tech equipment in the classroom or my office. They loved coming to my rescue and I learned a lot from them. Before or after class time I would ask tech questions like what is the difference between a tablet and an i-phone? This is what I want to do, what should I buy? We had great fun!

    1. Ha ha, that is young! In India he would have called you ‘Aunty’ 😆
      You are right though, being around young people does keep us young. I was the oldest person in my workplace and had some great times with those ‘kids’!

  6. 🙂 lovely post Madhu Aunty! And would u believe it I have already started dreading it! And no, not for cosmetic reasons! True beauty anyways shines thru! I just feel that when I look back, I find that everything is just so fresh in my memory and time just seems to be an illusion! So, I start wondering ! What would it be like twenty years hence, for instance! None of us really feel like we r ageing! The body surely ages but “we” don’t! Do we!!!! And every phase of life brings with it, it’s own beauty and charm! What do you think 🙂

    1. This is a travel blog Anetrabyle (Sounds like a Mangalorean family name!) and travel is what i focus on. This one in fact is a deviation.
      Thank you for the comment and reblog 🙂

    1. He he he, that one i knew Debra….being so close to the IT capital of our country 🙂 But had to look up BBL, B4N, BTW!

  7. I’m still trying to straddle both worlds. Texting LOL with my kids and writing cursive to my grandmother. I’m tipping over the edge into being on the older side of the generation gap, but am also embracing it. I try to feel lucky that I know how to use a rotary phone, change the channel on a TV without a remote control, and cook popcorn on the stove. Poor kids. They don’t know what they’re missing.

    1. Yes, being on the cusp has been very exciting, and finding the balance a lot of fun. I feel sorry for the kids too.

  8. Beautiful post images and write up Madhu, specially the last pic with the quote..wonderful
    “We’ve put more effort into helping
    folks reach old age than into helping
    them enjoy it“
    ~ Frank A Clark–this one took my breathy away what a beauty

    1. It grabbed me too. What is the point of spending so much on research to increase lifespans, without any thought to the security of those prolonged lives?
      Thanks for the kind words Soma 🙂

    1. Oh thank you LuAnn! The credit goes to all those wise men whose quotes I have liberally sprinkled through this post 🙂

    1. Ha, might be a good idea to go to the nearest kindergarten, if grandkids are not anywhere on the horizon 😀 Thank TBM

  9. what a beautiful post you have given us! i loved every word and every image, though the final one of your home, paired with my memory of your touching post about that home, is my favorite! z

    1. Was surprised by how many things represented old for me! Thanks Lisa. Those images of ‘home’ hold a special place in my heart 🙂

  10. You said it well Madhu, one of my family friends has a daughter who at two years old learned how to unlock her iPad! Apparently she even went a while thinking that every screen (including the TV) was a touchscreen.

    I love how you extended the theme from people, to historical structures, to literature before ending with one idea that would inevitably touch us all. As for that final quote, it brings to mind that 94-year-old knitter who has now become a Twitter sensation…

    1. James, I am not very active on Twitter, but I just looked up ‘Quilting Muriel’ and was blown away! Here’s her latest tweet: “Mental exercise keeps brain young. Going to memorize 5 names a day of senators who voted against gun bill. & maybe learn some curse words.” Thanks for the comment and the intro 😀

    1. Thanks Gilly. You will love my little shrine then…..a rough stone ‘OM’, with this little Ganesha beneath. My contemporary take on the traditional ‘Puja’ room 🙂

  11. Lovely post and photos, Madhu. Things change so rapidly in the world. Spending time with the grandkids is always enlightening. How wonderful to look back at all of our memories, but also look forward to, and experiencing the new things in the world.

    1. I love him too. He is the sole occupant of my Puja alcove Kasturika 🙂
      I loved that quote too. Our mythology revolves around the escapades of our Gods imbued with very human qualtiies. And yet we have the fanatic moral brigades trying to enforce their version of life on us. Wonder where they get that from?

  12. Very powerful and provocative post, Madhu. Images beautifully chosen, as are quotes. But of them all — C.S. Lewis is the one to hit the mark.
    (I’m 78, and claim some authority to know 😉 Always some thing or some one new to discover, to become excited about —

    1. That one seems to be the most popular by far! I hope I will be half as ‘young’ as you when i reach your age 🙂 Thank you for your lovely comment.

  13. I love the last quote by CS Lewis. It’s so easy to think that once you hit a certain age, your time has passed to go get that degree, learn something new, or go on that adventure. But with the right mindset, we can always maintain our youth 🙂 Thanks for the lovely post.

    1. In India we can’t get our degrees after a certain age, not in school at least. Cut off is some ridiculously young age – under 30 – if I am not mistaken!!! A photography course I was keen on had a cut off age of 45!!! Have been meaning to barge in there and ask them why, but haven’t found the time.
      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment 🙂

      1. I had no idea there was an age limit on schooling. That baffles me that such a policy would be in place. We should never stop learning!

  14. Very well written and some very well captured photos – time runs fast… 😉

    By the way when I was in the early 20s – I was boss for about 35-40 people – some of them were 40 years older than me – I learned much of them, hopes they learned from me too… “lol”

    1. That must have been mutually enriching Ledrake. Somehow I feel older people are less welcome in the workplace these days. Appreciate your comment 🙂

    1. Powerful isn’t it?
      With the disintegrating family system old age is going to be a huge problem here in India.

  15. Unfortunately many things [I mean good ones] have “quietly slipped through the hourglass”, and never coming back. I love your post, Madhu!

  16. What a beautiful post .. and that finishing quote by John Ed Pearce is so spot on – is that your home??? Beautiful … just by the river. The whole post is so delicate put together with words and photos combined.
    “We’ve put more effort into helping
    folks reach old age than into helping
    them enjoy it“
    ~ Frank A Clark
    I wish that was what happen to our elderly, but it’s not … they are forgotten or put away somewhere … we don’t respect them as we should and they are the ones that made our life what it’s today. They worked so hard for it .. so we can enjoy what there is to enjoy today. They built our standard of living.
    I know that in some countries the elderly are very respected and they have a high status in their family .. but not in the western world. We go and visit me when we have too, too busy with our own lives. Terrible.

  17. I’m still smiling at the notion of your phone dialling people without your permission, Madhu! The ring of truth…
    Some beautiful old faces, but yes, Frank Clark is sadly right.

  18. Madhu, your photos are wonderful as usual – but the portraits of the persons are special. You captured their emotions and the moment.
    And speaking of old, my 6 year old has just been telling me “Mommy, I know more about programming and computers than you do!” And he certainly does. 🙂

  19. I love old things. I am an antique myself. LOL!
    Great post and pics Madhu! 🙂

  20. Some beautiful pictures and quotes, Madhu. CS Lewis, being my favorite. I was touched by my 8 & 10 year old grandsons who are the technocrats of the family choosing some pretty ancient memorabilia of (Ron’s mother) to have as keepsakes. It’s nice to know their great grandmother was loved and remembered in this way.

  21. Well written article! The thing is, some of us younger folks actually did a lot of those things too! I definitely remember waiting for the postman to bring my letters, I still roll up my car window (it’s a 1994 model !) and I used to wait forever for photos to develop. I agree, that way of life has slipped away, but it lives on in the memories of people such you and me!

  22. Post, pictures, quotes – wonderful and – it’s Life. I can read it again and again. Beautiful. Your house in the end, remembering your story…

  23. As you say, it’s all relative – though don’t you hate it when the person interviewing you is 20 years younger and you see it in their eyes they’re going to have a problem with that? The shot of the old Mangalore house is gorgeous – but how did you get the photograph superimposed onto it?

    Wonderful response, Madhu. 🙂

  24. Great post. I have my grandchildren to thank for keeping me young and computer savy. Not only do they keep me up to date with technology but also with music and the abbrev. LOL, BFF etc.


  25. Love this post Madhu, don’t know how I missed it. The Clark quote is wonderful, but all of the photos and quotes are terrific. Great job

  26. beautiful post madhu, those old people are all sitting down … a position that has crept up on me of late too … thanks for the reflection on old gods, i guess they are going the way of rotary dial telephones .. those old books are classics, we have the Pears Cyclopedia too, from my grandfather … wonderful quotes, especially the last about never being too old to dream and set goals 🙂

  27. Changes in the way life is lived can be unsettling for many including me from time to time. Memories of how things were are hard to discard. It’s best to put them in a place in our hearts and mind to keep safe for us to view when we need to. I cannot stop writing letters for snail mail as I enjoy the calls when they are received because they are unexpected. To hold a letter in your hand brings the words to life with the energy on the paper that is held by the receiver. I liked this post very much. Both the images and the words give the reader a sense of times gone by.
    Lovely ….

  28. I’ve passed many of the milestones you mentioned, Madhu. I hope the youngsters remember that “with age comes wisdom” and they don’t rush to outsource us too quickly.
    I love your photos and quotes, especially the one about home by John Ed Pearce. So true.

  29. As the mid-40’s settle in (and hopefully not exclusively on my hips!), C.S. Lewis is the thought I hope to hold onto the strongest! The lightning speed advances of technology have been amazing over our adult years.

  30. I have a box full of letters, some from the ’70s and ’80s. Other than birthday cards and holiday cards, I don;t think I’ve received a handwritten letter in years! Kind of sad. Nice post, Madhu!

  31. Wonderful, Madhu!
    I still make and send handmade cards, although fewer than I used to since they take a lot of time to create, but I think there is something special about the handwritten note that can’t be conveyed through email.
    However, I do like having the conveniences of technology also – just not all the time.

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