The Young and the Old

I always live in the future, 50 years from now. And I frequently travel back, not to now, but to 50 years ago. Then, and only then, will I understand what is happening to me today and prepare me for what will happen tomorrow.

The depth of a culture can be gauged by the way it treats two very important generations: the Young and the Old. The elderly are important because they are responsible for the good we have today and can help us comprehend the bad that is happening today. The Young are important because they are the future and they will be creating what will become tomorrow.

It was in Japan that I saw this being played out time again. A little girl talking animatedly to her attentive mother, both oblivious to their surroundings. Grandfather and grandson contemplating a bird chirping on a tree. Someone offering a seat for an old lady. An old man being helped across a street by a stranger. A mother saying goodbye to her child at the station. Father and little son off to a baseball match. On the surface these oft repeated events may not seem significant, and you never know the undercurrents that could be flowing beneath such scenes taken in isolation, but they do reflect a deep sense of love, respect and affection that the Japanese shower on their Young and Old. Somehow this touches me deeply. Not the convenience of the subways, not the neon lights and skyscrapers, not the security and comforts, not the hightech gizmos, not vending machines. But this intangible romance with the Young and the Old, the Future and the Past. Of wishes and hopes, and of gratitude and indebtedness.

This will be something I will always cherish of Japan.

Hari Srinivas

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