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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sixty is the new forty

When people hit 60, most plonk themselves on their favourite couch and watch the remaining days of their life pass by quietly. What about the rest? They begin to enjoy life. Like Malini Kini who isn’t demure about her age or her newfound zest for life.

Before she reached the ‘age of retirement’, she was busy taking care of her husband and their children. Before she knew it came the day when ‘our two daughters flew the nest and I found myself at a loose end’.
Left with a lot of time on her hands, Malini began exploring her options. What stood out was that both her daughters are marathoners. “Among others, they have participated in the San Francisco and New York marathons. But they would never have gotten that trait from my husband. It must be from me,” she realised.

Despite being an indoors person all through her life, Malini decided to start running at 55. “Initially, I was scared to run even for five minutes. I feared that something would happen to me. But now, I can run 10 km  easily.” The confidence in her voice is unmistakable when she says, “I participate in the annual Sunfeast Marathon and, this year, ran the entire 12.5 km.”
By climbing. One year before she turned 60, Malini and husband Naveen undertook the toughest Indian pilgrimage — trek to Mount Kailash, the mythical abode of Lord Shiva in the Himalayas.

“Nothing can beat Mount Kailash,” she says grandiloquently. “It’s so tough, most people don't even attempt it. Normally, people start off with less strenuous pilgrimages to Badrinath and Kedarnath in Uttarakhand before embarking on Mount Kailash. But we started off with the toughest.”

Firstly, it’s not merely about climbing the peak. “You have to do a pradakshina (circumambulate the mountain), which took us two-and-a-half days,” she informs.

At 6,714 metres, the couple were introduced to altitude sickness (feeling of dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath due to insufficient oxygen). Plus, the couple and fellow travellers had to make do with minimum amenities. “No toilets, no running water,” she says before adding, “You really get in touch with nature there.”

These problems seemed minor when it came to the perils of the route. “The paths are so narrow that one misstep means certain death. We hired a pony for the last 54 km. At that height, the 54 km seemed like a 1,000 km. To help you tread the treacherous path, you hire one person to hold your hand and another to hold the pony,” she says. “When we finally reached the peak, we cried and called our families.”

As Malini relives the two-week-long journey, it becomes apparent that the experience has left an indelible impression. “It makes you realise there is more to life than just enjoying,” she says philosophically.

Stirred by the adventure, Malini undertook another challenging two-week trip to the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand. For Malini, an expert in Ikebana or the Japanese art of arranging  flowers, the choice of destination was a no-brainer.

That was a month ago. Right now, she’s planning her next trip.

Some 60-year-olds, it is difficult to keep up with.
“You are as old as you feel. I am into positive thinking. I never let any problem bog me down. I don’t crib about aches or pains. If someone talks about depressing issues, I immediately change the topic.

“I eat right and engage in physical activities every day, including yoga, swimming and walking.

“It is easy to look younger. For younger looking skin, do facercises where you pout, grin, frown etc,” Malini says.

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