Millennium Post

How it’s cool being 60

Blogger and writer Ajay Jain tells us about his latest book, Don't feel Stupid at 60, in a tete-a-tete with Tania Ameer Khan.

Tell us about the idea of the book.

We have only one life. Unless proven otherwise. And we get a chance to live it only once. No re-takes. It is a one way street. And, barring some real bad luck, we will all hit 60 someday. It will then be a time to reflect back on the life gone by. And take stock. Of what we have done and not done over the years. Decisions taken and been glad. Or regretted. The quality of life led. And when you do, would you want to feel stupid about it? And kick yourself for pursuing what seems insignificant on hindsight, in the process wasting an opportunity to have lived life to the full? This is where the book comes in. It’s a compilation of ideas to make your life more fulfilling, enriched and healthy.

How did you come up with this idea?

At some stage in my life, about 13 years back, I figured I wanted more from my life than just the routine. I had till then followed the regular path - engineering, MBA, and careers in Information Technology and other fields. One day I woke up and decided to be a journalist, a writer and a photographer. Without any experience or training in the same, I applied to media schools and was in the UK within months of that wake-up moment. Since then I have been trying to lead a fuller life. When others saw my life, they wanted to know more about it, and after giving informal advice, I decided it was time to pen it down.

How is this book different from self-help books?

The book is easy-to-read. It is not talking down at people. It is talking to them. It is like I am having a conversation. It is also not too preachy or heavy. The idea is not to hand-hold. I am trying to prompt a thinking process. I am letting the reader figure what will work for them individually.

Why the fixation for the number 60?

This is just a number, a reference point. But let’s face it: It is an age after which we will not be able to do a lot of things. Depending on one’s health and fitness, 60 could be 60. Or it could be 50, 55, 65, or 70. But for most people, the age around 60 marks the onset, in many senses, of old age. We will start easing on the accelerator. We will have more time to stand and stare. And reflect. On the life gone by. And take stock. Of what we have done and not done over the years. Decisions taken and been glad. Or regretted. The quality of life led. And thus the reference to 60.

Has this book picked up with the 60-year-olds only or it appeals to others as well?

Frankly, the book is for those who are not yet 60. It is when you are younger - in your teens, 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, that you can still do things to make your life rich and complete. Like I mentioned above, there is not much you can do to change things after 60. Again, 60 is a relative number - for some, it may be 50, or it could be 65 or 70. Depending on your well being. But surprisingly, we have a lot of readers in their 50s and 60s who are reading this book. And complimenting the same. It is never too late to improve the quality of your life.

Your earlier books have focused on travel mostly, so how did you break from the norm and conceive this book?

One of the messages in my book is don’t be fixed on a set course of life. Look at it from many different angles. Be flexible, and creative with your life. Travel and photography were two things I started doing when I decided to improve the value of my life in my 30s. And since this book is based on my own experiences and experiments, I could write the book. I allow myself to be versatile, without being a Jack-of-all-Trades. One still needs to be good at whatever they do.

Do you have anything in mind for a next book? Are you writing something?

I am writing a work of fiction. The diary of an adolescent growing up in Delhi in the 1980s.
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